My daughter's girl vanished just like Maddy

My daughter's girl vanished just like Maddy
The police beat her until she falsely confessed
Lucy Thornton and Ryan Parry
22 September 2007


Jailed Leonor Cipriano was facing her mother in a prison waiting room... when she began weeping for Kate and Gerry McCann.

Leonor, 36, convicted of murdering her missing daughter Joana, had just been told the British couple were facing the same accusation over their own little girl Madeleine, four.

Distraught Leonor, who is serving a 16-year jail term, asked her mother:
"Why can't the police try and find my daughter and little Maddy instead of blaming their innocent mothers?  "This whole story reminds me of my Joana. I am sure they are both still alive somewhere.  "They need to find them - instead of blaming us."

While Leonor is behind bars, her other two children Reuben, five, and Lara, four, are being cared for by her adoptive mother, Maria de Lourdes David, 58.

Maria is convinced her daughter is innocent and claims she was beaten by police until she made a false confession.

She said:
"If Madeleine's mum was beaten as badly as Leonor was, she may have confessed to some- ' thing she hadn't done too.  "But, luckily for her, she is English and not poor like us, or they would have put her in prison wrongly I too. When all this started with Madeleine, it all came back to us and it hurt me as much as if it was Joana. I just want the little girl to show up. I want them both to come home."

Eight-year-old Joana disappeared just seven miles from the resort of Praia da Luz, from where Madeleine vanished in May.

Leonor insists that she was framed and her daughter was stolen in 2004 and possibly sold to a German couple.

She claims the police beat a confession out of her, which she retracted the next day.  Local papers: carried pictures of her battered face.

Maria added:
"They put a bag on her head and she thinks they were hitting her with something hard inside a kitchen roll to stop the bruises showing so much.  "Her face was swollen and she was badly hurt around her chest.  "Police said she threw herself down a staircase."

Several officers involved in the murder investigation are facing charges. Among them is detective Goncalo Amaral, who has also been involved in the McCann inquiry.

Maria said:
"I think there is a connection with Joana because in both cases they went missing with no trace. How can two children disappear and leave no clues? If they were killed, where are their bodies, where is the evidence? I am worried there is a man out there.  "I can't stop thinking about it. Leonor says the same as me about the missing girl. There is no trail. One disappeared off the streets and the other from her bedroom, but still no one saw anything.  "Leonor cries when we talk about Joana and this other little girl."

Joana vanished after walking to a local shop. Suspicion began to turn on Leonor - just as it has done with Kate and Gerry McCann.  Leonor's neighbours accused her of failing to show any emotion.  During a chat with a local resident, she was asked how she could be so calm and replied: "Don't you go thinking things about me."

The next day the local papers accused Leonor, through a police source, of selling her daughter to a German couple and she was taken into custody for her "own protection".

Later, her brother, Joao, 35, was said to have been plied with drink and confessed.

But only a tiny trace of blood was ever found in their tiny flat and no other forensics. The murder convictions were based on the confessions.

Maria said:
"He said all sorts of things because of the pressure. He confessed to killing her but later said he lied, insisting she was alive."

Joao was also jailed for 16 years. Talking about the McCanns, Maria added:
"I can't see the mum and dad killing that little girl. They are innocent - just as my Leonor is.  "Police definitely blame innocent mothers, they blame everyone if they haven't got the answers."

She urged the McCanns to have "lots and lots of strength. Everything will be sorted out.

"They played about with us and with Joana but they are not going to get away with playing with the McCanns. Leonor did not lay a finger on Joana - never, ever.  "I want both little girls to turn up one day. If they did, what would the police say then?"


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