With no real leads and news reports of a botched investigation, the McCanns received another devastating blow. Five months after Madeleine went missing, the McCanns were shocked when Portuguese police named them "arguidos," or persons of interest, and brought them in for questioning. In an instant, the international media turned on the McCanns, changing them from victims to villains.
Kate remembered how she felt after being labeled an arguido. "I felt angry, I felt strong. I wasn't scared. I felt like I was going to fight the world, to be honest. My daughter was worth more than that and I would do whatever it took to fight for justice and truth."
Gerry's concerns were that if the Portuguese police have labeled the McCann couple as arguidos, "then ultimately who's looking for Madeleine? … It felt like you were in the middle of a horror movie really, a nightmare."
After being declared suspects, the McCanns felt it was no longer safe to remain in Portugal, so they returned home to England with their twin toddlers. It was hard to come home without their daughter.
Kate explained, "Being in our family home without Madeleine was incredibly hard and yet at the same time there was some comfort in it."
There were a lot of adjustments they had to make as they tried to return to daily life and accept their new reality.
Kate described her routine: "When we first came back, I didn't cook a meal, just couldn't do it. … There were times in the early days with things like that I found I resented things like that because it was taking me away from M, you know. How can I handle the washing when my daughter's not here?"
But they had to go on for their other two children. Kate said they will never give up their quest for Madeleine. "I'll never get to a day where you think OK, we've tried everything now, we're exhausted and we need to start living. I can't imagine ever getting to that day you know so I just think, well we need to know because the thought of living like this for another 40 years isn't exactly you know a happy prospect."
For months questions arose about the strength of the reported evidence against the McCanns. Then, in February, Portugal's chief of police, Alipio Ribeiro, admitted that they may have been overzealous in targeting the McCanns.
In an interview with Portugal's Radio Renascenca he said there was a "certain hastiness" in making the McCanns suspects.
Searching for their daughter remains Gerry and Kate's main focus, but there is also another goal on their agenda: to push for legislation in Europe to create something similar to the Amber Alert System in the United States.
The McCanns argued for a new system all around Europe, urging every country in the European Union to adopt the U.S.-style missing child notification system.
"It's not right that families could be destroyed with something like this and action had to be taken," Gerry said.
Their quest for change even led them to Washington, D.C., to get advice from someone who understands the depth of their pain and despair: Ed Smart.
Six years ago, his daughter Elizabeth Smart made headlines and gripped the hearts of people across the country. She too was taken from her bed in the middle of the night. Nine months later Elizabeth was found, alive.
Ed shared his wisdom from the experience with the McCanns.