Madeleine McCann has been missing since March 03, 2007.
The three-year-old British girl was left unattended along with her twin siblings at ground floor apartment 5A, on Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva, at the Praia Da Luz resort located in the Algarve region of Portugal. Madeleine’s parents left her unsupervised at around 8:30PM while they had dinner and drinks at the resort’s tapas restaurant across the street, an activity they partook in each night of their stay. They claimed they periodically checked on the children, every 30 minutes or so, but at around 10:00PM noticed that Madeleine was missing.
One of the other parents in the group was going to check on his own child, whom he had also left sleeping in the apartment he and his partner were staying in. He offered to check on Madeleine and the twins for the McCann’s and popped his head into 5A at around 9:30PM but admitted that he didn’t actually go into the bed room to visually confirm the children were all in there, he simply listened.
When Kate McCann went to check back at around 10PM the patio doors were unlocked, as well as the window and security shutter, and Madeleine was no where to be found. The police were quickly alerted, and the family, friends and hotel staff searched for the missing child for several hours, to no avail.
The Portuguese police responded slowly and failed to canvas and check nearby homes, they also neglected to monitor vehicles going in and out of the area and to contain the crime scene, making it difficult to determine which DNA profiles lifted from the room were attributed to who.
One of the McCann’s friends, Jane Tanner, who was dining along with them that night said that just under an hour before they noticed Madeleine was missing, she saw a man carrying a child away. The local authorities were sceptical of the story as she claimed to have passed Madeleine’s father on the way to the apartment she was staying at, but he apparently had no knowledge of seeing her. The local police thought it very unlikely that the two could pass and not see one another considering how quiet the area and how small the street and accused Tanner of fabricating. She described the man as likely a local, standing at around 5”7 with dark hair, between the age of 35-40, wearing beige trousers and a dark brown jacket. She described the little girl he was cradling in his arms as wearing light pink pyjamas.
An Irish couple reported a suspicious sighting of their own to the Portuguese police around three weeks after Madeleine’s disappearance. They claimed to see a different man carrying a child towards the nearby beach. They described him as no taller than 5”9, said he looked to be in his mid-thirties with brown hair and looked as if he didn’t know how to properly carry the pale, blonde haired child.
Portuguese police believed that Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, had covered up the accidental death of their own child and they remained suspects in the case for around a year.
Local investigators argued that the metal shutter over the window could only be opened from the inside and found it strange that after finding her daughter missing that Mrs. McCann would leave her twins in the same apartment while she went to alert her husband and friends. The McCann’s were attacked relentlessly on social media and accused of being swingers, along with their group of friends known in the media as the tapas 7, who sedated their children each night. They were accused of having accidentally killed their daughter after sedating her and concealing the body.
Back in the U.K the couple hired private detectives to work on the case.
Scotland yard got involved in 2011, opening Operation Grange, and would go on to debunk the Tanner sighting in 2013. They had matched the description of the man cradling the child to that of a British national on holiday and his daughter who were staying nearby and said he had nothing to do with Madeleine’s disappearance.
In July 2007 sniffer dogs alerted handlers to the presence of blood both in apartment 5A, including on Madeleine’s plush toy and in the trunk of the car the McCann’s rented during their stay as well as the car keys. There were several suspects over the years, but no arrest was ever made.
Due to the media attention and funding the long unsolved McCann case received, it is one of the most well-known missing cases in the U.K
Recently there has been a new suspect in the British girl’s disappearance, a German man and convicted child abuser named in the media as Christian Brückner, who is currently incarcerated at a prison in Lower Saxony, Germany. The BBC reported that he was currently serving out a sentence for drug dealing as well as the rape of an elderly lady in Praia Da Luz, the same area Madeleine went missing from.
After Madeleines murder he left Portugal.
In a short interview with the BBC, a man who was once a neighbour of the suspect recalls that Brückner used to give local children gifts and candy each day when he worked at a kiosk in Germany. In another interview a woman who was once an acquaintance of the suspect recalls an occasion where Brückner became angry and irritated about a news segment covering the McCann case. “They wouldn’t find a body after such a long time” she remembered him saying.
Christian Brückner, now 43, lived in the Algarve region at the time Madeleine went missing and had done so for over a decade. He moved from Germany to Portugal in 1995, when he was just 18 years old, after accusations that he had abused a child back in his home country. A look into his criminal history revealed that he had been arrested as early as 15 years of age for breaking into a home. Two years later he was convicted for crimes involving a minor before fleeing to Portugal.
Locals say he showed up with little to no money and did odd jobs in the area, however media outlets have reported that he made money through drug dealing and breaking into apartments and homes around Praia Da Luz.
A German child went missing from the holiday destination several months after Brückner’s arrival. A disappearance German authorities believe the suspect may have been involved in.
Phone records show that he used his cell phone outside of 5A, the ground floor apartment madeleine disappeared from on the night she went missing. He was living in the area at the time and locals described him as “strange and intimidating” and said he carried a firearm. The phone call lasted around 30 minutes, between 7.32PM till 8.02PM.
He had a campervan which he lived in on and off, as well as a Jaguar, but no forensic evidence was found in either vehicle. The suspect registered his Jaguar under the name of a friend the very day after Madeline went missing.
After the disappearance Brückner travelled between Germany and Portugal. Reports state that he owned a rundown building in East Germany that was once searched after a 5-year-old girl went missing in the area. They found a memory stick with indecent images of children and child pornography on it but no child.
Another run down property that Brückner rented in Portugal and left in a rush in 2006 was searched around six months after the suspect vacated. The Telegraph, UK, reported that a search of the premises uncovered wigs and costumes, what was described as “erotic clothing” and broken computers. Brückner had fled the premises just a couple of weeks after raping two women in the area. He recorded the assaults and the video camera he used was later turned into the police by friends of his.
An unnamed source told police they met Christian Brückner in a bar one night in 2017 in Portugal where the suspect claimed he was involved in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance and detailed how he disposed of the body. He also told them of another crime he had committed- a crime he was later prosecuted for.
Investigators working on the case in Germany revealed they have evidence that the suspect has “done the deed” but admitted they needed people to talk in order to find Madeleine’s remains. The German authorities are investigating the case as a murder.