The mystery continues to fascinate the world. Watching the McCann industry at work is like watching a slow motion train wreck.
Friends, relatives, neighbours - everyone now seems to be in on the act. Despite asking for privacy the McCanns seem keen to keep supplying the media with quotes and self-serving information.
But what did happen to the unfortunate three-year-old at the centre of this tragedy?
Here's my summary of the possibilities:
1. A gang sussed out the territory and, knowing that the McCanns were out having dinner, wandered in and `abducted' her. This would probably not have happened, of course, if an adult had been present. Many commentators have played down the responsibility of the parents (`they only did what thousands of other parents do' seemed a popular argument, and one can only assume that a good many people in the media are accustomed to leaving their kids alone and felt guilty about it). But it seems to me that if this is what happened then the parents must bear much of the responsibility. An unemployed 16-year-old mother who left her child alone while she went out for chips would have social workers on her doorstep within minutes. Two doctors ought to know better.
2. A lone paedophile, wandering past, spotted Madeleine, was tempted, snuck in and took her away. This would probably not have happened, of course, if an adult had been present. Once again, the parents must bear much of the responsibility if this is what happened. If they hadn't been out having dinner with friends, Madeleine would now be at home in Leicestershire.
3. Madeleine got up by herself, wandered out of the apartment and somehow disappeared into a hole in the road or the sea. Once again, the parents must bear the responsibility if this is what happened.
4. A parent, hurrying to get ready to go out to dinner, became cross with Madeleine and hit her (or went to hit her). The blow (or intended blow) resulted in Madeleine falling and hitting her head. She died. To avoid trouble with the authorities the accident was covered up. The body was hidden and subsequently buried privately.
5. Madeleine had been playing up. One or both parents decided to give her something to quieten her. A sleeping medicine, perhaps. Madeleine reacted badly and died. To avoid trouble with the authorities (and, possibly, serious trouble with the General Medical Council) the death was covered up. The body was buried privately.
There are several other bizarre possibilities.
But these five are, presumably, the most likely.
Though there must be a real chance that we will never know exactly what happened.
There seems to be some surprise, and dismay, among some sections of the population that the McCanns are being considered as suspects.
Back in May 2007, when I first wrote about this tragic affair, I pointed out that in most cases where a member of a family disappears the first suspects usually include the closest relatives.
I asked then if the McCanns had ever even been considered as possible suspects in the disappearance of their child. And if not, why not?
Although I am not, of course, for a moment suggesting that they are in any way guilty, I am surprised by the fact that for a long while no one seemed to have regarded the couple as potential suspects. When anyone is murdered the first people usually considered as possible suspects are other members of the family. Exclude those closest first usually seems to be the standard police policy.
But the public and the media seem to be in love with the McCanns. (And they seem to me to have taken to the cameras with some enthusiasm.)
Meanwhile, the number of things that confuse me continue to grow.
Why don't the McCanns go back to work? They wouldn't be the first parents to have to return to work after a tragedy.
Work would provide some distraction from the tragedy (a good thing) and it would enable them to earn some money for their legal fees (another good thing). It would also encourage the media to back off a little. (And it would give the McCanns a good reason to demand that the media do back off.)
The longer the circus continues the more difficult it will be for the family ever to have a normal life again. In my view it won't be long before their fame will make the McCanns unemployable as doctors.
Some of the other media stunts seemed to me to be intended to attract publicity to the parents rather than to the cause.
Did Gerry really have to whizz off to America?
How and why did Gordon Brown get involved?
How was the Pope ever going to help find Madeleine?
To be frank, some of the stuff I've read sound more like political spin than the heartfelt cries of grieving parents.
And why don't the family and friends all shut up?
They may think they are helping but I can't see that they are. Many of the comments seem to me to just stir things up - and attract attention to the McCanns.
If the McCanns really want to be private then they should keep their heads down - and tell their relatives to go back to their own lives.
The media (and a large section of the public) seem to regard the McCanns as victims - and deserving of our sympathy and support.
I wonder if I'm the only person to have found the McCanns to be a rather unappealing pair?
And the strange thing is that the more I see of them the more I dislike and distrust them.
Perhaps that's just me...but here's a question for you: Would you hire the McCanns as babysitters?
Copyright Vernon Coleman September 2007