MADRID, Spain – The parents of a 4-year-old British girl who disappeared in Portugal said Tuesday they believe their daughter is still alive, despite media reports of blood being found in the hotel room where she vanished.
"Last week when we met with the police they said, 'We are looking for a living child.' And they've said that a lot," the girl's mother, Kate McCann, told Britain's Sky News.
The Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Noticias reported Monday that sniffer dogs found specks of blood on a wall in the hotel room in the southern resort town of Praia da Luz where Madeleine McCann vanished in May.
Madeleine's father, Gerry McCann, said he could not comment on specific details because he feared it might jeopardize the investigation.
"We do know some information that, one, we're not allowed to tell, and, two, we would never, ever put anything into the public domain that might put the investigation of Madeleine at risk," he said.
McCann said, however, that he and his wife believe his daughter is alive.
"We're not naive, but on numerous occasions the Portuguese police have assured us that they were looking for Madeleine alive and not Madeleine having been murdered," he added. "And I don't know of any information that's changed that."
Meanwhile, Portuguese police said the investigation is still open and insisted Madeleine's parents are not suspects.
Police inspector Olegario Sousa, speaking in a telephone interview from Lisbon, refused to confirm or deny the report in Jornal de Noticias about blood being found in the hotel room.
"The family are not suspects. This is the official position," Sousa said, adding "we do not confirm newspaper reports."
"All of the details of the investigation are under secrecy," he said. "There are several fronts open in the investigation. There is no certainty about anything."
The report, which did not cite its sources, said investigators were conducting tests to determine whether the blood in the room was Madeleine's. It also said it appeared that somebody had tried to wipe the specks off the wall.
Madeleine disappeared after her parents left her and two smaller siblings in the hotel room while they had dinner within the resort complex where they were staying.
The only named suspect in the case is 33-year-old Briton Robert Murat, who lives in a house about 150 yards from the resort. Police searched his home again over the weekend, but it was not known if anything was found, and Murat was not arrested.
He has insisted from the outset he had nothing to do with the child's disappearance.
Kate McCann said in interviews published Sunday in Britain that she is haunted with guilt over leaving the girl alone while she and her husband went to dinner — a decision has raised questions in Britain and abroad. McCann said the hotel seemed safe and family friendly.
"We're just so desperately sorry to Madeleine that we weren't there," she told The Sunday Times. "Even now, every hour I still question myself, 'Why did I think she was safe?"'
"I do feel regret, and I've gone through my life saying I never want to have any regrets. But then you can't not regret something like that."