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Netflix's latest true crime documentary series, "The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann," explores the twists and turns of an unsolved missing person's case in Portugal. Madeleine, then only three years old, had vanished from a hotel room in Praia da Luz, Portugal in 2007, sparking a media circus and over a decade of speculation about where the child went.
During the new program, the case of Rui Pedro is also discussed — mostly as a foil to the McCann story: 11-year-old Rui, who vanished almost a decade before, received far less attention than McCann, leading some in the documentary to wonder if he could have been found had the same kinds of resources pulled for McCann been utilized. Was Pedro's case ever solved?
Rui Pedro Teixeira Mendonça was last seen riding his bicycle in Lousada, Portugal on March 4, 1998. When Rui didn't appear at a tutoring appointment later that day, a search began — but Rui never turned up.
In September of that year, in an international child pornography bust, police recovered 750,000 images and videos depicting 1,263 different children from an illicit group known as The Wonderland Club. Pedro was among the 16 children who police were able to identify, according to the Telegraph, a British news organization. Police believe that after being abducted and forced into pornography, Rui was murdered.
An investigation revealed that Pedro and a 22-year-old named Afonso Dias had visited a prostitute on the same day Rui had gone missing, according to TSF, a Portuguese news station. The prostitute said that after the visit, during which she was paid by Alfonso to have sex with Rui, Alfonso drove off with the child.
Police were never able to narrow down any suspects aside from Alfonso, who was acquitted of any involvement in Rui's disappearance in 2012 due to a lack of evidence. He was, however, convicted for the corruption of a minor, due to him forcing Rui to have sex with the aforementioned prostitute, in a new trial in 2014, according to the Jornal de Notícias, a Portuguese news organization.
Dias was sentenced to three years in prison and maintains his innocence to this day, according to Publico, another Portuguese news organization. He served two thirds of that sentence.
Rui's family objected to the treatment the McCann family received by the police, noting the disparity between the way his case and her case was being handled.
Watch Out Of Sight: The Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann Friday, March 29 at 9/8c, only on Oxygen
"It is clear they didn't do the same when Rui Pedro disappeared. The extent of the authorities' mobilisation was not as big," Filomena Teixeira told The Telegraph, speaking about the search for Madeleine in 2007.
Rui's case remains unsolved.
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