Madeleine McCann was three years old when she went missing from her villa during a family vacation in Portugal on May 3, 2007. Nearly 15 years after her disappearance, the suspect was formally identified in connection with the case.
According to Reuters, Portuguese prosecutors confirmed that there was an official suspect in the case. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that the suspect was identified based on a request made by German and British police.
Authorities did not publicly announce the name of the individual, but the suspect's lawyer, Friedrich Fulscher, confirmed his name as Christian Brueckner while speaking to CNN on April 22.
Brueckner was first considered to be a suspect in McCann’s disappearance in 2020. However, German prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to charge the man in court in relation to the case.
Although the suspect was not charged for Madeleine McCann’s disappearance, he was already serving jail time for r*ping a woman in the Algarve region, where the toddler went missing. He was even charged with abusing children and burglary in the past.
Brueckner has continued to deny his involvement in Madeleine McCann’s missing case. On May 3, 2022, it would be 15 years since McCann’s disappearance. As per Portuguese law, it is no longer possible to declare any individual a “person of interest” beyond this date.
However, officials claimed that the latest declaration was influenced by "strong indications" of the practice of a crime rather than being driven by timing.
A look into the Madeleine McCann disappearance case
On May 3, 2007, three-year-old British toddler Madeleine McCann disappeared from the vacation villa during a holiday with her family at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, Algarve, Portugal.
Prior to the disappearance, the child was reportedly sleeping in a bedroom along with her siblings while her parents were dining with friends. In September 2007, McCann’s parents, Kate and Gerry, were declared as "named suspects" in the case. They were later cleared of suspicion.
Another Anglo-Portuguese man, Robert Murat, was also detained as a suspect but cleared of charges in 2008. He also won a nearly £500,000 libel lawsuit over defamatory articles that connected him with the case.
The case was initially closed by the Portuguese police in 2008 but reopened in 2013 “after new elements came to light.” Scotland Yard also opened a formal investigation into the case, saying that it had “new evidence and new witnesses.”
In January 2009, Kate and Gerry McCann returned to Portugal to launch a fresh public appeal for information on their missing daughter. The couple also unsuccessfully sued former head detective of the case Goncalo Amaral for publishing a book about Madeleine McCann's disappearance.
The case garnered widespread attention, with people from across the globe hoping for the child’s return. Despite a international search operation, McCann remained missing and no individual was charged for her disappearance.
In April 2017, only four official suspects questioned by law enforcement authorities were ruled out of the investigation, but senior officers said they were pursuing a “significant line of inquiry.”
In March 2019, McCann’s parents were left disappointed after Netflix released an eight-part documentary about their daughter’s disappearance case. The pair believed that the documentary could “potentially hinder” the actual investigation.
On June 4, 2020, police identified a 45-year-old convicted felon named Christian Brueckner as the new prime suspect in the case. Reports suggest that the man was allegedly present in the area near the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz and had a telephonic conversation over an hour before McCann’s disappearance.
That same month, the German state prosecutor’s office said it has “concrete evidence” that the child was dead. A spokesman for the State Prosecutor's Office of Braunschweig in the state of Lower-Saxony confirmed similar suspicions to CNN.
While Brueckner was the first official suspect in the case since Madeleine McCann’s parents, his attorney confirmed that the man has not been charged in connection with the crime so far.