Though it would seem as if a missing child would be a 10-alarm fire, two officers from the Guarda Nacional Republicana—a military force, but they serve as the equivalent of a U.S. city police force or highway patrol—didn’t show up until around 11:10 p.m. And their guess was that Madeleine had wandered off, perhaps in search of her parents, into the streets crisscrossing the resort.
The GNR did not immediately cordon off the area around 5A, as protocol often dictates for a crime scene, according to multiple witness accounts. So as word got around that a little girl was missing, guests and curious looky-loos flocked outside (and inside) apartment 5A—the back of which faced the pool and the tapas restaurant—smoking cigarettes and walking right up to the bedroom window, which soon became a hotbed of fingerprints and random DNA.
According to Collins (who in his book thanked police and media contacts, as well as Interpol for aiding in his investigation), as one man ran his fingers over the sill, declaring, “Nothing to be seen here,” a British freelance reporter overheard and fired back, “Well, there bloody well wouldn’t be now, would there?”
Fellow vacationers did, however, help search for Madeleine until dawn, small groups walking the streets, combing the beach and peering into rubbish bins and anywhere else a small child could have ended up, on her own or by force.