According to Ellie's mother, who was awarded sole custody of Ellie in 2010, her little girl was taken by Ellie's father, Filipe Silva, who allegedly abandoned his daughter when she was just three months old.
Ellie, who lives in Madeira with her mother, step-father (Phillip Gannon), and half-sister (Olivia Gannon), failed to return from a two-week holiday at her father's home in Vilamoura, on July 31.
On that date, all means of communication with Ellie were cut off and it is alleged that Filipe has taken his daughter into hiding.
Unable to locate Ellie, Candice launched an extensive campaign called 'Reunite Ellie'. Mrs Gannon has called on the intervention of Interpol, the local GNR and the Judicial Police (PJ), to find Ellie. This action saw Filipe Silva voluntarily attend the Vilamoura GNR station on August 5.
Photo 1: Missing seven-year-old Ellie. Photo 2: Ellie with her mother and younger sister, Olivia.
However, because the necessary court order for Filipe's arrest had not been issued by the courts at that time, he was released and neither he nor Ellie have been seen since then.
Spencer Dohner, lawyer at Spencer Dohner & Vanda Matos, who have law offices in Faro and Lisbon, said "I confirm that my office is currently sponsoring the criminal complaint side of this case by request of Mr Gannon (Ellie's stepfather). We have been instructed to act following what we consider to be a criminal behavior of the child's father, relevant in light of article 249 of Portuguese Criminal Code - 'subtraction of minor' crime."
The court order is necessary because, according to the Law, no direct action can be carried out by a citizen when authorities are available. When a court issues an order in connection with parental custody regime and one of the parents ignores the order, the court has to be called upon to issue the relative paperwork for the appropriate action to be implemented. Spin to date the courts have issued orders for his arrest. And the recovery of Ellie.
With the arrest order now in place, the Gannon's have obtained the help of the well known US firm Conquest Management International to assist in locating Ellie.
Conquest Management is a Kidnap and Ransom group founded by former US military
and retired Federal agents. They receive funding for child location missions from the Lightfoot foundation in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. A statement from CMI officials was
"It's not an issue of if we find Ellie but just a matter of when".
"This is a very desperate situation, and we are very hopeful that CMI and authorities can bring Ellie home.
Media Contact: Wayne Hamit CMI