The parents of Madeleine McCann, the three-year-old British girl who disappeared from a resort in Portugal where the family was on vacation, released a video today telling their daughter to be brave.
"Our only Christmas wish is for you to be back with us again," Gerry and Kate McCann said in the three-minute video, which also included three clips of the little girl filmed last Christmas.
The parents, who Portuguese police named official suspects in the case, make a direct appeal to whoever might have kidnapped the girl to release her and end the family's "despair and anguish."
Kate McCann speaks directly to her daughter to encourage her during her ordeal.
"Madeleine, it's mummy and daddy here. Just know how much we love you, Madeleine," she says. "We all miss you so much.
"Sean and Amelie talk about you all the time every day. We're doing everything we can, Madeleine, to find you and there are so many good and very kind people helping us. Be brave sweetheart," she says.
"Our only Christmas wish is for you to be back with us again and we're hoping and praying that that will happen," she tells her. "Love you Madeleine."
Madeleine, or Maddie as so many have come to know her, vanished from the family's holiday apartment in the resort of Praia da Luz on May 3 while her parents -- both doctors -- were having dinner 100 yards away in the same holiday compound.
Almost immediately, a huge publicity campaign went into gear, with celebrities including author J. K. Rowling and soccer player David Beckham appealing for help in finding the little girl, who has a distinctive black mark in the iris of her right eye.
The McCanns toured Europe to raise awareness of the case. They even had an audience with the pope. They gave dozens of interviews, as press and TV teams from around the world documented their every move.
"'Please, please continue to pray for Madeleine," Kate McCann cried during one television appeal.
"We are doing absolutely everything to assist the police with their investigation, and we will leave no stone unturned in the search for our daughter," her husband Gerry said.
In mid-May, just after Madeleine's fourth birthday, Portuguese police named a British expatriate, Robert Murat, as an official suspect. Murat lived next door to the McCann apartment. But police didn't have enough evidence to actually charge him.
Then in mid-June, police admitted vital forensic clues might have been destroyed because of their failure to seal the crime scene properly.
By August, the Portuguese media, which had so much sympathy for the McCanns, had turned against the couple. Police called Kate McCann in for 11 hours of questioning in September. She was hissed and booed by onlookers as she arrived at police headquarters.
The next day, she and her husband were both named as official suspects by the Portuguese authorities, adding a new wrinkle to the already complicated story of Maddie's disappearance.
In an interview with a British tabloid, Kate McCann said the police tried to get her to confess to accidentally killing her daughter with a sedative.
In the last three months, there have been no breaks in the case, apart from a false sighting in Morocco of a fair-skinned child with a striking resemblance to Madeleine. Another sighting was reported this week from North Africa by a woman who was convinced she saw Madeleine in a taxi with a middle-aged woman.
The Portuguese police chief in charge of the inquiry, Det. Goncalo Amaral, was removed from the case. This was partly because of his involvement in a similar case of another missing child in Portugal in 2004 where the child's mother ended up being convicted and jailed for her murder. The child's father claims his wife was tortured into a confession by Amaral.