Polícia Judiciária

Young pregnant mother-of-two goes inexplicably missing; family fear worst

“Disappearances in Portugal continue to be the Achilles Heel of Criminal Investigation”

A 33-year-old pregnant, single, mother-of-two has not been seen or heard from since last Wednesday – and police admit she could well have been kidnapped, possibly even murdered.

On the same day that Correio da Manhã carries the mystery of Mónica Silva, who told her two children that she was going out for a coffee, criminal investigtor Manuel Maria Rodrigues writes in the same paper that “disappearances in Portugal continue to be the Achilles Heel of criminal investigation”.

Quite apart from the Portuguese nationals that ‘disappear’ from one minute to the next, sometimes never to be heard from again, over the years there have been a number of foreigners, including Britons, who simply vanish.

Such has been the case, most famously, with three year old Madeleine McCann, but less famously with Scottish chef Jon Edwards; Irish ‘free spirit’ Jean Tighe; British pensioner John Bainbridge and teen Jayden Pearson, not to mention the number of foreign hill and fell walkers who have disappeared on the island of Madeira. These are just some of the ‘cold cases’ stacked up in Portugal that may never see any kind of satisfactory conclusion.

Mónica Silva’s case has chilling undertones, according to Correio da Manhã. The father of her unborn child “did not accept the pregnancy”, family sources are cited as explaining – and there is “a friend” they are aware of “who also had no interest that the child existed”.

Mónica’s stricken children, aged 11 and 14, suspected nothing when their mother left their Murtosa home last Wednesday evening, saying she was going to have a coffee. She is understood to have taken images of her pregnancy ultrasound with her – a family member suggests perhaps to “prove something, or show something…” to someone.

Two hours later (around 11pm), she is understood to have called her eldest son to say she was on her way home.

The boy says his mother spoke normally, thus there was no sign then that anything might be amiss.

Since then, nothing.

Only yesterday – five days since Mónica Silva ‘disappeared without trace’ – did the case pass to Aveiro PJ.

They have ascertained that there have been no movement in her bank accounts; her mobile phone has been switched off, and there is nothing to suggest her absence is voluntary.

Seven months into her pregnancy, Mónica Silva is described as “having difficulty with locomotion, which adds an extra detail to the equation”. In other words, she would not be walking about anywhere, as she is ‘heavily pregnant’.

Clearly now that the PJ is involved, interviews will be going ahead with both the presumed father of the child, and the friend that family members suggest is ‘hiding’ from them.

The family stress they have been terrified something awful has happened since Mónica went missing.

GNR police were alerted last Thursday; on Saturday Mónica’s sister says she received a phone call in the early hours saying Mónica was being held in a tank, and that unless the family paid money, she would be left to die.

Nothing is looking very positive – particularly when there is a column in the same newspaper today bemoaning the sloth of criminal investigation whenever people go missing.

Says Manual Maria Rodrigues, if all disappearances were treated as suspicious from the very outset, he doesn’t believe there would be so many lying ‘open’ in Portuguese archives. 

Speed is not on the side of this investigation: Mónica went missing essentially six days ago now. But that last phone call she made to her son, at 11pm on Wednesday, COULD prove to be the ‘gold’ criminal investigators need, says Rodrigues – as they should be able to pinpoint where it was made from, and then trawl through any kind of CCTV images that may exist in the vicinity to try and find out what may have happened.

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