British and German police say they’ve had a massive breakthrough in the Madeleine McCann kidnapping case – a case that made headlines more than 13 years ago after the 3-year-old McCann went missing from her family’s hotel room while they were on vacation in Portugal.
Until early 2020, the kidnapping was considered a “cold case,” and McCann’s family believed they were unlikely to ever learn the fate of their daughter whom, they claimed, was snatched from a vacation villa in Praia da Luz while her they were having dinner at a nearby restaurant. McCann’s parents say they checked on their three children, Madeleine, and her twin two-year-old siblings, at 9 pm that night. When they returned from their meal just an hour later, though, Madeleine was gone.
Now, thanks to a German “real crime” television program that asked for leads on McCann’s disappearance, police say they have a suspect: a 43-year-old German man serving prison time in Germany for sex crimes named “Christian B.” whom authorities say was a drifter living in Praia da Luz and doing odd jobs at the time of the kidnapping.
“The man, who is in a German prison serving a sentence for an unrelated sexual crime and for drug offenses, has a criminal record for sexual abuse of children,” The New York Times reported Wednesday. “There are 17 crimes listed on his criminal record, according to Der Spiegel, and a local newspaper Braunschweiger Zeitung said he had been deported to Germany in 2017 on a European warrant for his arrest on a different crime.”
“He is known to have burgled hotels and vacation homes and dealt drugs, German police said in their statement, and held a number of odd jobs in the [Praia da Luz] area, including in catering,” per the NYT.
He is also connected to two vehicles, a camper van and an ancient Jaguar sedan believed to be seen in the area around the time McCann disappeared, German law enforcement says. The suspect made cell phone calls to friends from Praia da Luz the night McCann went missing, with one call made just an hour before authorities believe McCann was kidnapped.
There have been suspects named before, including McCann’s parents (they were cleared a short time after the incident), but no arrests. The family’s representative told the BBC that, while police have done additional investigations in the years since Madeleine went missing, he could not “recall an instance when the police had been so specific about an individual.”
“Of all the thousands of leads and potential suspects that have been mentioned in the past, there has never been something as clear cut as that from not just one, but three police forces,” he added.
Unfortunately for McCann’s family, German police do not believe Madeleine is still alive, and while her disappearance is considered a “missing persons” case, German prosecutors “assume the girl is dead.”
“In connection with the disappearance of the then 3-year-old British girl Madeleine Beth McCann on May 3, 2007, from an apartment complex in Praia da Luz in Portugal, Braunschweig prosecutors are investigating a 43-year-old German citizen on suspicion of murder,” the German official in charge of handling the told reporters Thursday, according to Fox News. “You can infer from that we assume the girl is dead.”
“With the suspect,” he continued, “we are talking about a sexual predator who has already been convicted of crimes against little girls and he’s already serving a long sentence.”
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