It was a case that shocked the world, and now over 15 years later, authorities have named a suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Madeleine went missing from her family’s holiday apartment in the Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007, a few days before her fourth birthday, sparking a media frenzy and an unprecedented international manhunt.
Portugal’s public prosecutor’s office in the southern Algarve city of Portimao said the suspect — whose identity was not originally confirmed and at first was only being referred to as “Christian B” – has now been formally identified as Christian Brueckner.
In 2020, German police named Brueckner as a person of interest for the first time in connection with the case.
“The person was made (a suspect) by the German authorities in the execution of a request for international judicial cooperation issued by the Public Ministry of Portugal.”
“The investigation has been carried out with the cooperation of the English and German authorities,” the statement concluded.
Brueckner is currently serving a jail sentence for raping a 72-year-old woman in the same resort where McCann went missing.
Madeleine’s body has never been found despite multiple investigations involving both British and Portuguese police.
In addition to serving currently for the rape of the elderly woman, Brueckner has a history of previous convictions, including child sex offenses, and, according to police, lived in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007.
He made a living doing odd jobs in the area where Madeleine was taken and also burglarized hotel rooms and holiday flats.
Portuguese authorities say that Brueckner was on a list of people of interest at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance, but investigators were unable to find him.
Her disappearance sparked an international media frenzy and an unprecedented attempt to locate her, with photographs of her plastered across news bulletins and billboards.
Portuguese police initially closed the case in 2008, only to reopen it five years later.
“The case was reopened after new elements came to light,” a spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office told the Associated Press. Since then, investigations had been carried out “in cooperation with British and German authorities.”