EXCLUSIVE by Eloise Horsfield

A BRITISH expat has come forward believing to have seen Maddie McCann in Nerja – exactly five years since her disappearance.

Rose Johnson, 70, reckons she saw the missing girl playing on Penoncillo beach – between Torrox and Nerja – last summer.

The Frigiliana-based pensioner hopes her sighting will help Portuguese police who sensationally sent a request to their Spanish counterparts to investigate other sightings in Nerja just a fortnight ago.

The former cleaner, who has lived in the area for a decade, has spoken out after reading an article in the Olive Press, last issue.

She revealed how she had made the sighting while eating at Merendero restaurant with her partner in August last year.

“We were quite taken aback when we saw this Maddie look-a-like walk off the beach and join a table of what we could only describe as a party of Spanish people or similar,” said Johnson.

“They were completely different to her. The whole family was dark skinned, whereas she had fair hair and pale skin and obviously was northern European.

“It was very, very strange. She was about eight and seemed really airy-fairy, and in a world of her own.

“She hardly spent any time with the family and didn’t sit with the people she was with at all.”

Johnson later saw something equally startling.

“As we crossed the road to our car, just up the road was a dark blue or grey car, a people carrier or similar – possibly a Citroen Picasso or Renault Scenic – with a Portuguese number plate,” said Johnson, originally from Buckinghamshire.

“We, like a lot of people, and especially her parents, want her found and any information we can give we would like to think it could help.”

Regretting that she did not take a picture with her mobile phone, she added: “We hope people don’t think we are jumping on the bandwagon, looking for publicity. This is simply about Maddie and trying to find her.”

Her sighting is remarkably similar to another Olive Press reader Yvonne Tunnicliffe who insisted she was ‘100 per cent sure’ she saw Maddie while out on a shopping trip in Alhaurin two years ago.

She described seeing a blonde girl who looked just like her dad Gerry McCann with a man, who appeared to be ‘a gypsy’, in 2009.

It has been confirmed that Spain’s Specialist and Violent Crime Unit (UDEV) is investigating the Nerja connection.

Last night, the Olive Press passed over Rose Johnson’s contact details to police to help in their search.

Meanwhile Portuguese police have refused to reopen the case after British police revealed there were 195 new leads, despite Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood saying he ‘genuinely’ believes she could be alive.

In addition, a former senior Met officer has said Maddie was ‘most likely abducted by a couple’ who ‘wanted her as part of a family’.

Having spent a week on the Algarve, Ian Horrocks, is convinced a paedophile would have found many easier places to snatch a child.

He also believes the original investigation was flawed because police were looking for a dead person and got it into their minds that the parents were to blame.

Meanwhile the Met Police have issued a photofit of how Maddie might look today.



  1. This has made me gasp as I reported seeing a girl like Madeleine 3 days after it happened in 2007 with a family in Cabopino Campsite,nr Marbella they also had a dark blue people carrier. She too was with them but apart and distant,I reported it several times but don’t know if it was investigated thoroughlly. It too was a very haunting image as she was not interacting with the family and looked very sad.

  2. Hi karen, we would love to talk to you about this…we have now had at least half a dozen very good ‘sightings’ of maddie on the costa del sol…I really hope somebody can produce the killer fact!
    Give our newsdesk a call on 951166060

  3. Dear Portuguese police,

    Please re-open this case and followup the leads you disregarded 5 years ago.

    Maddy is probably living in some kind of a sub-basement where she is confined, doesn’t remember who she is and they’re probably keeping her drugged up on anti-depressants.

    Please find her alive and return her asap to her parents. Please.

  4. This sounds like it was madeleine mccann, and the portuguese police needs to search for a Madeline mccann hwho is alive! And they must do everything they can to find this girl and bring her home to her parents, that she very much need, becuase of this artickle i am shore she must be miserable, and she could be sick (mentaly ill) so i cant see why this couple is not returning her back to her real family,cause she must be unhappy.

  5. For goodness sake why have all these clues not been chased up and investigated, this is a life we are talking about here, everything possible should be done to find this child and reunite her with her parents, I stayed in Portugal and I must say there were many gypsies in the area, that did make us feel a bit uncomfortable, can everyone today on the anniversary of her disappearence please please pray for her return, you cannot underestimate the power of prayer, just look at Patrice Muamba he is living proof of prayer

  6. please can everyone at some point today on the anniversary of maddie mccanns disappearance prayer for her safe return , the more people that do this the better the chance of it happening just look at what the power of prayer did for Patric Muamba he has been described as a miracle

  7. SUSAN WALKER says: For goodness sake why have all these clues not been chased up and investigated,” and at the same time ask why all these people ALWAYS wait a year before telling anyone. There is a pattern emerging.

  8. When my son was about 6 I went to pick him up from a party in a ball park, he wasn’t there, and the host couldn’t remember when she last seen him, we immediately launched a search and within ten minutes found him playing under some balls. In those ten minutes my heart pounded like a hammer inside my rib cage, I felt an unbelievable pain, I don’t think I could of managed 20 minutes of that, and these people have lived that pain for 5 years. Yet people still like to be cruel to them.

  9. if it is maddie these witness had sightings off ,why would the people who took her let her be in a world of her own ,they went to the trouble of kidnapping her ,and if it is maddie draw attention the way they are supposed to be , it does not make sense .i just hope the next person to to get a sighting ,does more about it at the time ,

  10. It’s horrible that I used to live around this area where she has continuously been sighted and not think to look out for her.
    Going out to Nerja in June this year, so will be keeping an eye out with my camera at the ready.
    Hope we can find Madeleine xo

  11. Amy. If you do see Madeleine you MUST play by the rules, and not report it until the next anniversary, or the launch of the next book. On no account must you stay close to the child, or speak to her, or speak to the people she is with, or look at her right eye, or note the registration number of the car they get into, or use your mobile phone to take a photo, or even to ring the police. The best thing to do is to walk away and wait until next spring, when you can have your 15 minutes of infamy.

  12. May, you are so wrong on all counts, just because details of registration numbers etc are not published in the press does not mean they were not gathered,just because reports were not published in the press earlier does not mean they have not been reported to the police,several times. You know how the enquiry was run, sightings and evidence have not been acted on efficiently by the police which is why it is no further on 5 yrs down the line. No-one wants to get famous out of this they just want to know that their evidence has been taken into account and eliminated so they can move on. The Mccanns asked for anyone who knew anything to come forward again in case it had been missed.

  13. Karen Sisson, did you not read the article here where a lady spotted Madeleine and was 100% sure it was her, but she had guests over at Xmas and couldn’t get away for a whole week to report it. You are having a laugh. Last time I checked, people in costa del sol have both landlines and mobiles.

  14. Karen Sisson … The Mccanns asked for anyone who knew anything to come forward again in case it had been missed.” *** – – But when Martin Grime took the best trained blood and cadaverine detection dogs in the world, they dismissed them as “notoriously unreliable”. If your child had gone missing and a dog indicted blood and cadaverine in your house, would your reaction be simply to say it was impossible, or would you fold up with grief and dread at what it actually implied ? And when you were asked about “Sightings” of your child, would you grin and laugh, or would you be on the phone to the police in that place, even if you did not go yourself ? And would you actually search for your child, or spend the first evening deleting calls and messages from your mobile phone ? And so on.

  15. They don’t. They could not see my comment No 11, which you have now taken down on this one too. The one about your changing the name of the witness on a previous article. Luckily we have screen shots and copies of the articles and the comments before and after ‘amendment’. We have learned to do this with anything associated with this case.

  16. PM, why are you posting such horrible lies and jokes about the search for a missing little girl? Why are you running back from here to that obnoxious little forum which is the mouthpiece of the arch stalker of the McCanns, Tony Bennett, and gloating about your posts here? The fact is that the PJ when co-ordinated by Amaral were incompetent. He stated that himself only a few days ago. They failed poor Madeleine McCann by their incompetent policing. They ignored lead after lead because it did not fit the theory about the parents which Amaral still has not managed to show any proof for. And now Scotland Yard are actually looking into all the evidence (not just that which fits one theory) and have stated that on balance it points to stranger abduction. Your mocking posts here and on that forum and your silly conspiracy nonsense is quite awful in this missing child case. You are an amateurish internet detective who thinks he knows better than real police officers who have access to all the information unlike you and Amaral. If it weren’t such a serious case it would be hilarious.

  17. Well done Karen for having the courage to come forward and say what you saw. I’m appalled that nobody contacted you after you reported your sighting.
    I wonder how many others came forward with similar sightings that were just ignored. I would urge you to contact Scotland Yard or Crimestoppers and tell them.
    Don’t let people like PM intimidate you (or anyone else) into not coming forward. All it takes is that one piece of the jigsaw to help this child.

  18. “PM says:
    It is not a question of conspiracy theories, it is a question of whether we can believe anything written in the Press.”

    But you’ve based your conspiracy theory on what was fed to the UK press by the leaks from the PJ in the early days. The Leveson Inquiry heard evidence that the press were fed lies.

  19. PM, I can assure you nobody is ‘placing’ these stories and there is no deliberate timing on anniversaries, book launches or anything else for that matter…people are just coming forward because they genuinely believe they may have seen maddie right or wrong…if we don’t put a comment up from you it might be because it breaks certain rules…

  20. Jon. I am not suggesting that YOU save up all these ‘sightings’ and place them at the correct moment, but after four long years we have had too many astonishing coincidences. We bear in mind however the presence in TM of Mitchell, who in his own words is there to ‘control what comes out in the media”.

    Just to continue, we are now approaching the holiday season, and the Costa is about to be invaded by several thousand families from Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, many will have blonde children of about 8 years old.

    Can you advise the public on what to do if they see a blonde girl aged about 8, in the next five months, on a beach anywhere between Sotogrande and Nerja. Clearly waiting till the spring is not an option.

    Sadly this is not a frivolous point. I fear that many parents are going to be hassled and inconvenienced and have their holiday ruined for their ‘crime’ of having a blonde daughter and the coincdence of being seen by someone who believes in any one of the official scenarios.

  21. Dave, you haven’t a clue what people are seeing. Only they do.

    PM: You accused Olive Press of changing names of witnesses and being part of a cover up. Now you are backtracking and accusing Clarence Mitchell of making up sightings?
    You need to sort your conspiracy theories out before you post?

    If someone sees Madeleine they should report it. Most decent, normal parents would understand if someone got it wrong.

    You seem to be a self-appointed guardian of all blonde girls, which is very odd.

  22. Dave says: “Sam: I believe people see what they WANT to see.”

    Really? They go out to lunch or dinner and think ‘I want to see Madeleine today?

    I think it takes them completely by surprise. I think it’s a bit arrogant to dismiss what people see based on what YOU think they are seeing.

  23. Unless you have her Dave, then you don’t know that.
    With people like you saying she’s dead, don’t look for her, they could take her anywhere they liked.
    It’s not wishful thinking. I can’t imagine why you’re so adamant that she can’t be found or people should just ignore her if they think they see her? There’s a cluster of sightings around Nerja, not just one or two. The abductor is relying on people like you to look away. I’m relying on people like the woman in the article to do the thing most decent people would do; tell someone you may have seen her.

  24. My goodness is there any wonder that the police struggled to investigate this case. Thousands upon thousands of sightings, whipped up media frenzy and hysterical holiday makers thinking every blonde child is Madeleine. Then they all wait weeks, months, years before reporting it, making it virtually impossible to follow up and eliminate. Of course they are all 100% sure it was her!!!

  25. Just reading back over the comments and realised there is another Dave posting, so just for clarification purposes my first post about this article is number 43, although I do fully agree with Dave’s sentiments in his number 41 post.

    However, in future to avoid any confusion I shall just call myself Dave2.

  26. “My goodness is there any wonder that the police struggled to investigate this case. Thousands upon thousands of sightings, whipped up media frenzy and hysterical holiday makers thinking every blonde child is Madeleine. Then they all wait weeks, months, years before reporting it, making it virtually impossible to follow up and eliminate. Of course they are all 100% sure it was her!!!”

    Why the hyperbole Dave? ‘Hysterical, frenzy, thousands?’

    There haven’t been thousands and thousands of sightings. And the woman in the report above is an expat not ‘an hysterical holiday maker’ – well used to seeing the type of people who come and go.

    And Karen, who commented above reported her sighting straightaway; days after Madeleine went missing. Nobody bothered to contact her again. Like many, many other witnesses.
    Why the insistence that you know better than the people who report sightings? Or better than Scotland Yard?

    There is hysteria Dave, but it seems to be coming from you?

  27. Of course there has been thousands of so called sightings around the world. The PJ have investigated many and recently they have been accused of ignoring hundreds more haven’t they? Now lets not forget the the 3 sightings a week on average the Spanish police say they get, that works out at around 750 over five years in Spain alone.

    Indeed lets also not forget the UK Crimewatch team that didn’t bother to hand over hundreds of possible leads to the UK police. Why did they do that you might ask, well it was something to do with being inundated with calls. So my friend I think you will find there has been thousands of calls about this case, most of them irrelevant but time consuming to deal with all the same and a distraction from the investigation.

    AS for this lady being an expat that has nothing to do with my post as many of these sightings have come from holiday makers, hysterical or otherwise.

    Just a final note, if this lady was sure it was Madeleine and the police didn’t contact her again, then why didn’t she contact the mccanns or their detectives?

  28. Dave, she came forward after she read that portugese police have been looking into links in the Nerja area.
    Thank god some people kept their eyes open and have open minds
    Pls contact us at the Olive Press with any more sightings… We have had around a dozen so far and have investigated all, with around half knocked down…
    as it happens we found Madeleine in An Axarquia village last week… Same age, looking similar, but NOT her!
    For a moment our hearts missed a beat

  29. I think you miss the point completely Jon, if she thought this was Madeleine when she saw her why wait a year to come forward? and only do so when she hears the police are looking at other local sightings. If you are that convinced it’s her you would have done something about it sooner.

    People have become hysterical about every blonde child who doesn’t seem to fit in with the family they are with.

    I’m not surprised the German family who have had their privacy wrongly invaded and their names splashed across the internet are extremely annoyed. All because someone got a little hysterical about a blonde child not looking as though they belong in the family.

  30. This claim by Karen Sisson has now, like all the others, been disproved, as reported here: “http://www.bild.de/news/ausland/maddie-mccann/urlauber-familie-spanien-fall-maddie-24049614.bild.html”

    and here: “http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2141774/German-speaking-Swiss-native-interviewed-police-spotted-driving-blonde-girl-identical-Madeleine-McCann-away-campsite.html”

    Perhaps these many claims of alleged ‘sightings’ of Madeleine should be treated with considerably more circumspection by the media in general and journalists in particular, so that innocent people are not harassed and alarmed unnecessarily by unwanted media attention. We all hope that Madeleine is found alive and well (unlikely as that may be in view of the indications that the Portuguese and British Police found in PdL back in 2007), but it would seem that the continual media obsession with this one missing child has generated a climate of where people are seeing things that they want to see. As a parent myself, I would be very concerned if a stranger started staring at either of my 2 daughters (both of whom are blond) and I’m sure that it won’t be too long before there is a serious incident, where a totally innocent child and their family are terrorised by someone trying to grab the child in the mistaken belief that it is Madeleine.

    Anyway, I am convinced that TOP would want to bring its reports up to date with the above information and, hopefully, will add a warning to its readers about the considerable dangers involved in misidentifying a child and thereby causing uncalled for trauma to a totally innocent family.

  31. Mr. and Mrs. McCann; What a mistake they made leaving the children. I am sorry for them and my heart goes out to Madeleine whatever happened to her. This is a dreadful business and I have studied quite a lot about it. However, I am not a detective and most people involved are not either; this in my lay and unqualified opinion. I read lots of statements from people who were present when Madeleine disappeared and I wonder who it was that took her away. Some of it does not add up very well. Then I read about Insp: Amarals findings and the two dogs, Eddie the Cadaver detecting dog and Keela the bloodhound. How can anyone possibly denigrate these expertly trained dogs?. I am of the opinion that their alerts are correct and I believe Insp: Amarals investigative findings are correct as well although this does not seem to prove much in connection with finding out what exactly happened to Madeleine or where she is. A cadaver must have been in that room at some time for the dogs to alert just like they alerted to the McCanns rented car. I do not know who this cadaver could be, or indeed if the cadaver and blood scent is the same scent both in the flat and the rented car. The dogs are unable to tell us. I do not think the McCanns deliberately harmed Madeleine though whatever happened. If someone can put this business to bed then now is the time to do it. Please God may Madeleine be found safe and sound, Although I am not sanguine in this area. MIKE.

    I do note that Mrs. McCann seemed to be very upset when she met the Pope no doube grieving about Madeleine.

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