Disappeared and Abducted Children and Young Adults > Suspects

Creepy Man (Gail Cooper statement)

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Gail Cooper's first witness statement, 21 May 2007

Daily Mirror Jan 8th 2008

New lead on Madeleine
A second British tourist has reported seeing a mystery man hanging around Madeleine McCann's holiday flat just days before she vanished.


Hunt for new Madeleine McCann suspect


The Scotsman 21st January 2008

More like the police than the police - new tactics in hunt for Madeleine


Gail Cooper's second witness statement, 16 January 2008

On the 21st May 2007 I made a statement to the police regarding an incident which occured whilst I was on holiday in Praia da Luz in Portugal. I reported that a male had come to the villa collecting money for an orphanage. I made the statement following the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, as I believed he was suspicious, and I felt the information could be useful to the enquiry. Since making the statement I never really gave it much more thought until my daughter ***** (crossed out and amended to mother *****) pointed out to me an article in the Daily Mirror newspaper which said something about a man had been approached by a male collecting for an orphanage. The story related to Madeleine McCann.

This then made me think about the man who had visited me at the villa. The article dated in the newspaper was Monday 7th January 2008. My daughter ***** contacted the Daily Mirror newspaper as there was a telephone number asking for people to contact them with any information.

Later on in the day on Monday 7th January 2008, I received a telephone call from a man at the Daily Mirror wishing to come and see me. However, we decided to discuss the information over the phone. I told him about the man who had gone to the villa and gave him the description as I stated in my original statement.

On Tuesday 8th January 2008 the information I passed to them over the phone was printed in the Daily Mirror.

My daughter ***** also saw it and mentioned some further information which I had originally forgotten and it related to two further potential sightings of the same man on the beach at Praia da Luz which I describe as follows:-

On Sunday 22nd April 2007 whilst I was holida on holiday as per described in my previous statement, I was with my family at the 'Bar Habana' on the promenade area of Praia da Luz. The bar faces out towards the sea and is surrounded by other cafés and bars.

I was with my husband Jon, my son *****, my daughter *****, my eldest daughter ****, her husband *****, my mother ***** and my two grandchildren ***** and *****. As we were sitting there, my attention was drawn to the sound of children descending onto the promenade area. They all came onto the beach along the wooden boardwalk and there were approximately between 6 and 12 of them. They ranged from about 5 - 8 years of age. I was also aware that there were adults with them, and realised they were from the 'Mark Warner' Holiday complex as the adults had got white shorts and red tee-shirts on. I believe they had the name 'Mark Warner' on the front of the shirts. All the children went towards a play area where there were some swings. The time was between 11 am and 12 midday.

As I watched the children I saw a male walking behind them. He was approximately 10 - 15 yards away from where I was sitting. He didn't really do anything, he was just walking behind them, and I initially thought he was with the group, but as they got to the beach he turned right towards where I was, along the promenade area. He did not stay with the children at all. As he walked in front of me, I was immediately drawn to the fact that he looked exactly like the man who had been to my villa on Friday 20th April 2007. He had exactly the same hair style, dark collar length which was quite untidy looking. He had the same moustache, and looked the same age. The only different thing about him was that he had a Navy blue tee shirt on, round neck style with short sleeves. It was all plain with no logos or anything. His trousers were quite a neutral colour.

He was not carrying anything. He was the same height between 5'7" - 5'10" and slim-medium build. He appeared to be by himself, there was no one else near to him.

He was only in my view for a matter of seconds, but I had a clear unobstructed view of him and the weather was bright and sunny. I saw about three-quarters of his face as he walked by, he did not face me full on but I saw more of his face than just looking at his side profile.

I even commented to my daughter ***** that it was the same man who I spoken to at the villa.

The man walked away and I did not see him again.

Since all that has happened around Madeleine McCann, I have thought about other things that may have been suspicious.

I can recall that on Friday 20th April 2007 about 1 or 2 o'clock I was sitting on the beach front again in Praia da Luz. This was just before the man came to the villa later on that day. I was sitting at the 'Bar Parisio'. It faces out onto the sea and is near to the 'Bar Habana' I mentioned earlier. I was with my friends Trudy and Lee Dawkins, my husband Jon, Trudy's daughter Leander and her 2 year old son *****. Leander's husband Steve was also there. It was raining on this particular day, and I recall seeing a man walking alone on the beach. I thought it strange because of the weather. He was only in my sight for a few seconds and was some distance away. I could not fully see his face but as I have sat and thought about the suspicious man, I feel sure it was the same man I saw at the villa and again on the beach on the Sunday.

He was the same height, age, had the same hairstyle and the only other thing different is that he had a khaki green or stone coloured coat on.

I did not report this information to the police at the time I made my first statement as I just did not see the full relevance of it until I saw the article in the Daily Mirror in January. It had not even crossed my mind until I started going over what I had done and seen during my stay in Portugal.

Signed and witnessed


20th January 2008

News of the World

Witness reveals chilling clues about Maddie suspect 

By Sara Nuwar

This is the man suspected of snatching four-year-old Maddie McCann.
It is the FIRST detailed likeness of a stalker thought to have kidnapped the toddler. And it's based on sensational new clues unearthed by the News of the World.
If you have any information about the man in this new picture contact the confidential phone line 0034 902 300 213 based in Spain now
As a massive new manhunt began last night a McCann family source said: "This is a stunning breakthrough.
A British woman who came face to face with the suspected Maddie McCann kidnapper revealed last night: "He made my blood run cold and gave me the creeps."
Granny Gail Cooper, 50, was staying just 600 YARDS from the McCann family's Portuguese holiday flat when she had THREE separate chilling encounters with the moustachioed mystery man.
After the News of the World probed her evidence further, McCann investigators analysed her detailed description.
It tied in uncannily with descriptions by family friend Jane Tanner of a man seen carrying a child in pink pyjamas from the resort of Praia da Luz the night Maddie vanished.
Based on Mrs Cooper's evidence an FBI-trained police artist produced the the FIRST detailed likenesses of the stalker—pictured above.
And last night, armed with the new pictures, detectives in Portugal and Britain were joined by Interpol in a desperate race to trace the suspect.
The man is 38 to 45, with sallow skin, lank dark hair, distinctive droopy moustache, large teeth and speaks broken English.
As the dramatic development raised the McCann family's hopes a source at the heart of the probe admitted: "This is a stunning breakthrough. We now have a manhunt. Where is this man now? We need to find him as soon as possible."
Over the last seven days Spanish private eyes Metodo 3 and the Find Madeleine campaign worked round the clock after the News of the World conducted a detailed review of the case. We studied all material in the public domain homing in on witness reports we felt had been overlooked.
When we spoke to Mrs Cooper at length it soon became clear vital clues were buried in her account of a "creepy man" loitering at the resort.
Two of her sightings were also witnessed by her husband. And we can also reveal that a NEW witness, a 12-year-old girl, has come forward to back up her story.
Mrs Cooper first spotted the man on the beach at Praia da Luz on April 20 at about 1pm when she went for lunch with friends at the Paraiso Restaurant.
She said: "He was wandering about on the beach alone even though it was pouring down with rain. There wasn't another soul about. I watched him for a few minutes before I went back to chatting to my friends."
Later that day, at around 4pm, Mrs Cooper was startled to find the stranger knocking on the front door of her holiday villa.
She said: "He must have seen my husband leaving because the bell rang only seconds later.
"He flashed what he said was an identity card but it could have been anything.
"He seemed really strange. It was a warm afternoon but he was wearing khaki trousers or joggers, a T-shirt and a bomber jacket. He said he was collecting for an orphanage in nearby Espiche that was caring for three children whose parents had recently been killed in an accident on the main coast road.
"It just didn't add up. Everyone would have known if there had been a tragedy like that.
"The man was rambling and becoming agitated. He really unnerved me even though my two grown-up daughters and two grandchildren were with me.
"I thought he was a conman trying to pull a fast one."
Mrs Cooper also said her eight-year-old grand-daughter had been playing on her own in the pool near the villa and was clearly visible from the road.
She added: "This man was very unpleasant and creepy. I'd put his age at 38 to 45. He was very scruffy and had a 70s-style black Mexican moustache.
"He wasn't Portuguese—I think he was North African, either Tunisian or Moroccan."
Mrs Cooper, a community healthcare co-ordinator from Newark, Notts, added: "In my job I have to assess people and make a judgement.
"My judgement is that this man was very suspicious and could have been the kidnapper everyone is searching for.
"I'd recognise him immediately if I saw him. His appearance has really stuck in my mind."
We can confirm the orphanage does NOT exist and that there is no evidence of the fatal car crash. Mrs Cooper saw the man a third time, two days later on April 22, as she lunched with her husband Jonathan at Bar Habana on the beach.
There was a children's outing there from the Mark Warner Ocean Club at the same time. The man was again alone and standing near the group of youngsters. Mrs Cooper said: "He looked odd and out of place."
When Madeleine arrived at the resort just a week later, the youngster went to the beach three days in a row with the children's club, including May 3, the day of her disappearance.
Although Mrs Cooper rang police on May 7 and gave a statement at her home on May 21 she heard no more. But it is now clear how important her account—and the facial likeness built from it—may be. On the night Madeleine vanished from the apartment while parents Kate and Gerry—both Leicestershire doctors—were dining at a nearby tapas restaurant, family friend Jane Tanner saw a man carrying a child away from the apartment on foot at 9.10pm.
Jane has now told the McCanns: "The man in the new suspect picture strongly resembles the person I saw on May 3rd."
The sketch by qualified police artist Melissa Little, bears an uncanny resemblance to an earlier picture, based on Jane Tanner's story.
Last night the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the new image had been passed to officers from the Leicestershire Constabulary, Portuguese police and Interpol. They hope the hunt will also be joined by forces in Spain and Morocco.
Metodo 3 believe the kidnapper may have had accomplices in Praia da Luz who helped spirit Madeleine away to the Moroccan hills.
If you have any information about the man in the new picture contact the confidential phone line 0034 902 300 213 based in Spain now. A specially-trained team will take your call in any language.
Mr Mitchell said: "We urgently need to know who this man is and where he is.
"For Madeleine's sake, we urge anyone with any information about him to come forward right away."

25th January 2008

MADDIE: WE FIND WEIRDO SUSPECT – He comes out packing a gun (article no longer available online)


The weirdo whose image is on a million posters in the Madeleine McCann hunt was traced by the Daily Star – and threatened to shoot our man with his rifle

The "creepy" prowler fingered in the hunt for Madeleine McCann was last night revealed as a penniless pig farmer ... with a gun.

Police are certain Joaquim Jose Marques is the suspicious stranger spotted lurking in Praia da Luz a fortnight before Madeleine vanished.

But when the Daily Star tracked him down yesterday at his crumbling farmhouse three miles from the Portuguese resort, he unleashed a pack of ferocious dogs.

Then he emerged with a rifle, screaming threats that he would open fire.

Marques became the centre of a global manhunt after Brit holidaymaker Gail Cooper  described the character that made her "blood run cold" to an ex-FBI sketch artist who produced a vivid drawing of the man.

Maddie's parents Gerry and Kate, both 39, distributed a million posters of the image in a bid to trace him, so he could be quizzed over their daughter’s disappearance while they were on holiday at the resort.

But yesterday it was revealed that detectives had tracked him down just 20 days after the four-year-old vanished last May and found he had an alibi.

Police officers went back to see Marques this week after the McCanns issued their poster.

They also quizzed his British hairdresser girlfriend – with whom he has a three-year-old daughter – to check out his story. When the Daily Star went to his tumbledown hillside farm, it was apparent why police were quick to include him in their first round-up of suspects.

Marques flew into a rage at being linked to the Madeleine disappearance and set loose his dogs. Then, brandishing a garden hoe menacingly, he screamed abuse when asked to explain the police visit.

"Leave me alone, leave me alone," he yelled. "You are destroying my life. I have had the police here and they know it is not me. I want you off my land right now."

The swarthy farmer disappeared into an abandoned outbuilding and emerged toting a rifle above his head, screaming threats that he was about to shoot.

While his long hair, facial colouring and age – in his 30s – match the man in the drawing, he does not share his moustache or prominent teeth.

Holidaymaker Gail, 50, had told how she saw the mysterious man three times in Praia da Luz the week before the McCanns arrived, and he gave her the "creeps".

Last night the McCanns' private detectives from the Barcelona-based Metodo 3 agency were still trying to track down Marques to question him about the poster.

The couple's family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "As far as we are concerned the hunt for the man in the sketch continues.

"We are very grateful to anyone who comes forward with information and, even if it is not the man we are looking for, it enables us to rule individuals out."

But Portuguese police said Marques was not a suspect in the case, had not been arrested and has been eliminated from their inquiries.

A police source said: "At the time of the disappearance an individual who had been fingered as a suspect by a tourist in Luz was contacted.

"Immediately he was acquitted of any suspicions.

"This week another English citizen pointed to the individual.

"But after the man was once again contacted, it was quite clear he had no connection to the case."

27th January 2008

News of the World

Is this Maddie suspect?

Exclusive: Astonishing lookalike found in hunt for missing Maddie

By Chris Tate & Neville Thurlbeck

A mystery loner who admits he bears an uncanny resemblance to an artist's drawing of a "creepy" suspect in the Maddie McCann kidnap hunt said : "It's not me in the picture."

But when eyewitness Gail Coop, who helped create the sketches, saw the scruffy man's photo she gasped: "Oh my God, that's so like him.

"He's the spitting image of the man I saw three times at the resort where Madeleine vanished.

"It's deeply shocking to see my drawing come to life. His cold, emotionless eyes sent a chill right through me."

The 50-year-old granny added: "I thought there'd be no doubt in my mind if I saw him again."

But when we tracked down the mystery man in our photo, Joaquim Agostinho, 42, who lives a 90-minute drive from the resort, said: "I did not kill Madeleine and I've never been to Praia da Luz.

"I cannot even drive. I accept that the drawing looks like me. All my friends have been laughing about it during the week saying how much it looks like me."

Astonishingly, despite the amazing resemblance, he revealed that police haven't bothered to question him.

He said: "No, the police haven't spoken to me. But people have been following me and taking pictures of me today and I didn't know what it was all about.

"As I say, I don't drive a car so I couldn't possibly have done what people think. I did own a motorbike once but I lost it couple of years ago."

Agostinho lives alone in a small flat in Altura, 87 miles east of Praia, where Madeleine was kidnapped on May 3 last year.

He added: "I have no money. I earn a little bit by delivering newspapers to people and for that they pay me with a drink of beer."

As our snap of Agostinho shows, he has a droopy moustache, long, dark hair and prominent teeth, just like the man in the sketch.

Heathcare worker Gail helped an FBI-trained illustrator make a detailed image of the suspicious man she saw in the resort where she was staying — close to the McCanns' holiday apartment and at the time Maddie disappeared.

After the drawings sped around the globe, we photographed a man described as a "weird loner" in his home town, just an hour and a half's drive from Praia da Luz before talking to him.

On Saturday we found Aghostinho touring around the bars of his hometown. Unkempt and unshaven in a brown leather jacket and camouflage trousers, the six-footer drank a lunchtime coffee in one bar before moving on to a succession of others.

Later, laughing nervously and looking bewildered in front of Portuguese TV cameras, he held a press conference outside his favourite bar, the Snack Bar Aliha at 5pm.

Our investigations in the small seaside town revealed the man, in his mid-fifties, is a college dropout and one-time fisherman who now drifts aimlessly around its narrow streets.

One local told the News of the World: "He is single and lives alone somewhere in the warren of little streets near the church.

"At one time he was a very bright student, but had emotional problems and dropped out of education.

"Now he just wanders from bar to bar. Most people know him, he's not known as being any trouble."

The town is a popular tourist spot with Brits and Germans, just 20 minutes across an open border to the Spanish town of Heulva, where five-year-old girl Mari Luz Cortes vanished two weeks ago while on her way to buy crisps from a shop.

Although there is no evidence that Aghostinho has any connection with either disappearance, Gail urged Portuguese cops to question him.

Detectives have claimed pig farmer Joaquim Jose Marques, who wears his hair in dreadlocks, is the subject of her drawing and that he has already been eliminated from their search.

But last night Gail insisted: "I know with all my heart that Marques definitely was NOT the guy I saw three times in Praia de Luz.

"That man was not the guy in my drawing. But this new man is so much like him.

"I'm amazed the man in the photo is so similar to him. I'm sure the one with the dreadlocks is NOT him. This new man must be interviewed, if only because they need to rule him out of inquiries—and he might even be a vital new witness."

Gail saw the suspect she described three times wandering around the resort. He called at the villa where her grandchildren were playing in a pool, visible from the road, claiming he was collecting for an orphanage.

She said: "He didn't do anything, but I felt intimidated by his manner.

"I didn't give him any money and he went off on foot, but he must have had a vehicle somewhere."

Meanwhile, there was a bizarre new "sighting" of Madeleine reported last night—in Chile, South America.

An air-conditioning technician in Santiago told police he saw two adults with a young child at a museum in Vicuna five days ago.

He told officers: "I saw a child with a pair of adults, one of whom closely resembles the police portrait of the possible kidnapper recently released by private detectives hired by the McCanns.''


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