Shockwaves sent across the Algarve.jpg

Shockwaves sent across the Algarve

RESIDENTS WHO have lived in the Algarve for many years may remember an incident which sent similar shockwaves through the local community: the murder of Rachel Charles in November 1990.

Rachel went missing after getting off the Vilamoura International School bus near her home in Vale Navio, Albufeira. She was apparently on her way to a horse riding centre nearby when she was seen voluntarily getting into a red car with yellow licence plates.

A huge search and rescue operation was launched, composed predominantly of local residents, who combed the entire area in search of Rachel.

Search parties found her body under earth and leaves on Falésia beach, on November 22. The autopsy showed that she had been strangled but there were no signs of sexual assault.

Family friend, Michael Cook, was convicted of her murder in February 1992 and sentenced to 19 years in prison, but the case was dogged by rumour and controversy.

Apparently, many still believe that her step-father, Ray Charles, kidnapped and murdered Rachel. He was on the police suspects list but died of kidney cancer around a year after her death. In the 16 years since this tragedy occurred, there has, arguably, been no event of the same scope, which has touched and stirred the community into action, like the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann.

The community should be applauded for the support it has shown to the McCann family during this very difficult week.

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Updated 12:11, May 10, 2007