Madeleine Parents Hopeful Six Months after Disappearance

LONDON – The parents of British girl Madeleine McCann observed the six-month mark of their daughter's disappearance, saying Saturday that they remain hopeful their daughter is still alive.

Gerry and Kate McCann, named by police as formal suspects in the case, say four-year-old Madeleine was abducted May 3 from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, a resort town in the southern Algarve region of Portugal.

In a statement, the McCanns said "somebody somewhere" knows where their daughter is and should get in touch.

"Six months is such a long time for a little girl to be separated from her family," they said. "We believe that our Madeleine is out there somewhere and retain hope that we can be reunited.

"Madeleine is a beautiful little person who deserves a loving and happy life," the parents added.

"To ensure this, there is no doubt that the best place for her to be is with family. We know that somebody somewhere can make this happen."

The McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire, have faced intense media speculation over what happened on the night Madeleine went missing during a family holiday in Praia da Luz.

On Sept. 7, Portuguese police named the McCanns as formal suspects in the case and speculate that the girl may be dead. The only other suspect has been Robert Murat, a Briton who lives with his mother near the hotel from which the Madeleine disappeared.

Amid allegations, the couple say they are innocent and have continued pushing forward with their high-profile campaign to find their daughter.

Since their daughter's disappearance, the McCanns have launched an international campaign to find her, enlisting the aid of celebrities such as soccer star David Beckham and J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter fantasy books. They have also traveled to various countries where they have met press and distributed posters of Madeleine with the hope that someone may have spotted her.

The McCanns, who are both Roman Catholics, even met with Pope Benedict XVI, who put his hand on their arms during an emotional meeting and blessed them.

According to the Find Madeleine website, the fund that was set up to help find Madeleine has so far received more than £1million ($2.1 million) in donations. The McCanns stopped using the fund in September, however, when they were made formal suspects in the case, a spokesman for the family reported.

Gerry McCann, a consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, England, and Kate McCann, a general practitioner, have been on unpaid leave since Madeleine disappeared, as they have led efforts to find their daughter.

On Thursday, Gerry McCann returned to work at Glenfield Hospital, saying he and his wife had done all that they could do for now.

"We feel we have done everything we can do to establish the search for Madeleine on an ongoing basis and we feel we have the proper infrastructure now in place to find her," Madelein's father told reporters.

"Unless Madeleine is found, we are not expecting any significant developments in the near future," he said.

On Saturday, Madeleine's family members held a special prayer service at the Church of St. Mary and St. John in Rothley, England, to mark six months since the missing girl was last seen.

In his latest internet diary entry, Gerry McCann wrote: "We will be marking this milestone very quietly with an ecumenical prayer service for Madeleine and other missing children in the local Anglican church."

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