The German investigator probing the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has sensationally revealed there is ‘new evidence’ linking paedophile prime suspect Christian Brueckner to her disappearance.
Speaking on Portuguese TV last night, 15 years to the day since she vanished in Praia da Luz, prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters said he is ‘sure’ the toddler was murdered and that Brueckner, 45, did it.
Mr Wolters was interviewed on a show called Sabado yesterday to mark the anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance from her parents’ holiday apartment at Praia da Luz on Portugal’s Algarve coast.
He said: ‘The investigation is still going on and we have found some new facts, some new evidence, not forensic evidence but evidence.’
The German prosecutor then repeated his 2020 claim that Brueckner, a convicted paedophile in prison for raping a pensioner, was responsible for her murder and said: ‘We are sure that he killed Madeleine McCann. I can’t give you any more details for the moment.’
It has been speculated by The Sun that the new evidence in question could be fibres from the Maddie’s pyjamas after she was bundled into the back of the van, despite Mr Wolters’ insistence the evidence is ‘not forensic’.
When asked by host Sandra Felgueiras whether it was ‘true that you have found something of Madeleine McCann in Christian Brueckner’s van’, Mr Wolters replied: ‘I’m not going to comment on the details of the investigation.’ But when pressed by the interviewer: ‘But you can’t deny it?’ Mr Wolters responded: ‘I don’t want to deny it’, adding: ‘The suspect has not yet been informed’.
Under German law, details of a police investigation cannot be revealed until a suspect and their lawyers are given the full details. The case can then be made public.
Wolters’ appearance on Portuguese TV yesterday coincided with a memorial service held to commemorate the 15-year anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance.
Kate and Gerry McCann were warmly welcomed by their community during a poignant prayer service in their home village of Rothley, Leicestershire. Mrs McCann read a poem while clutching her necklace made up of three rings, likely to symbolise Maddie and the couple’s two other children.
German national Christian Brueckner, 45, insists he was having sex with a woman in his camper van when three-year-old Madeleine disappeared while holidaying with her family in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on February 3, 2007
Kate and Gerry McCann were warmly welcomed by their community during a poignant prayer service in their home village of Rothley, Leicestershire. Mrs McCann read a poem while clutching her necklace made up of three rings
The three rings are believed to symbolise Maddie and the couple’s two other children
Brueckner is pictured in the van where prosecutors may have found new evidence linking him to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann
An undated handout photograph released by the Metropolitan Police in London on June 3, 2020, shows VW T3 Westfalia campervan, used in and around Praia da Luz, Portugal, by Christian Brueckner
Kate and Gerry McCann have been pictured for the first time in public in four years as they were warmly welcomed by their community during a poignant prayer service in their home village of Rothley, Leicestershire
Madeleine McCann’s parents, Kate and Gerry, mark the 15th anniversary of their daughter’s disappearance from Portugal at a vigil in their home village of Rothley
What do we know about Maddie murder suspect Christian Brueckner and his criminal past?
1976: Christian Brueckner (pictured) is born in Würzburg under a different name, believed to be Fischer. He was adopted by the Brueckner family and took their surname.
1992: Christian Brueckner is arrested on suspicion of burglary in his hometown of Wurzburg, Bavaria.
1994: He is given a two-year youth jail sentence for ‘abusing a child’ and ‘performing sex acts in front of a child’.
1995: Brueckner arrives in Portugal as an 18-year-old backpacker and begins working in catering in the seaside resorts of Lagos and Praia da Luz.
But friends say he became involved with a criminal syndicate trafficking drugs into the Algarve.
September 2005: He dons a mask and breaks into an apartment where he rapes a 72-year-old American tourist.
The victim was bound, gagged, blindfolded and whipped with a metal cane before being raped for 15 minutes. She said afterwards that he had clearly enjoyed ‘torturing’ her before the rape.
April 2007: He moves out of a farmhouse and into a campervan now linked to the crime. The farmhouse is cleaned and a bag of wigs and ‘exotic clothes’ is found.
May 3, 2007: Madeleine McCann is snatched at around 10pm from her bed as her parents eat tapas with friends yards away.
Brueckner’s mobile phone places him in the area that night. He returns to his native Germany shortly after that.
October 2011: He is sentenced to 21 months for ‘dealing narcotics’ in Niebüll, in northern Germany.
In 2013 police released a photofit of a man seen lurking near the McCann apartment and Scotland Yard said that suspect last night had not yet been ruled out of the probe
2014: He moves to Braunschweig where he starts running a town-centre kiosk. He then goes back to Portugal with a girlfriend.
2016: He is back in Germany. He is given 15 months in prison for ‘sexual abuse of a child in the act of creating and possessing child pornographic material’.
May 3, 2017: Brueckner is said to be in a bar with a friend when a ten-year anniversary appeal following Madeleine’s disappearance is shown on German television.
He is said to have told him in a bar that he ‘knew all about’ what happened to her. He then showed his friend a video of him raping a woman.
MailOnline understands the friend went to police shortly afterwards.
June 2017: He heads back to Portugal and extradited again to Germany. The reason was a sentencing of the Braunschweig district court to 15 months’ imprisonment for the sexual abuse of a child.
August 2018: After his release from prison he lives on the streets. But he was jailed again for drug offences.
First Prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters addresses the media during a press conference on the Madeleine McCann case at the public prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig
September 2018: Brueckner is arrested in Milan, Italy and extradited to Germany and put on trial for raping the American tourist in 2007 after a DNA match to hair found at the crime scene.
July 2019: He is jailed for 21 months for drug dealing in the northern German resort of Sylt.
August 2019: Brueckner is charged with the rape of the American tourist in Praia da Luz in 2005.
December 2019: He is convicted of rape of extortion of the tourist based on DNA evidence. He is given a seven year sentence, but this has not been imposed pending an appeal.
June 3, 2020: Scotland Yard and the German police reveal that that they have identified a suspect in the Maddie McCann case
June 4, 2020: Prosecutors in Braunschweig, where he lives, say they believe Madeleine McCann has been murdered, says spokesman Hans Christian Wolters. He is named in the German press as the prime suspect.
May 4, 2021: Kate and Gerry McCann post a statement on the Official Find Madeleine Campaign website saying they still cling to the hope of seeing their daughter again as they prepare to mark her 18th birthday on May 12.
April 21, 2022: Christian Brueckner, now 44, is made an ‘arguido’, a formal suspect, by Portuguese authorities. But he has not been charged.
Convicted rapist and paedophile Brueckner was named by German prosecutors as prime suspect in the case two years ago with investigators saying they had ‘concrete evidence’ she was dead.
But since then there has been little sign of him being charged, prompting speculation there is not enough evidence of his involvement in her disappearance and earlier this week it emerged Brueckner claims to have an alibi the night she vanished.
Kate and Gerry, who hold on to hope that Madeleine – who would now be aged nearly 19 – is still alive, appeared overwhelmed by the support as they joined in prayers and readings to mark the occasion.
The annual outdoor event has been cancelled over the past two years because of Covid restrictions. Kate and Gerry said last night: ‘This year we mark fifteen years since we last saw Madeleine. It feels no harder than any other but no easier either. It’s a very long time.’
In 2019 Kate turned up alone with her twins Sean and Amelie – now aged 17 – as her heart doctor husband was away in Italy at an important medical conference.
Former surgery GP turned hospital medical worker Kate, 54, had dashed from work to join Gerry at the war memorial for the welcomed event.
Kate, wearing black jeans, cornflower blue V-neck sweater and trainers, fought back tears as children lit candles for Madeleine and other lost youngsters.
Neither parent addressed the 100-strong crowd but Kate, wearing reading glasses, read a poem, saying: ‘Survival can be summed up three words: Never give up.
‘That’s the heart of it really, just keep trying.
‘Sometimes you have to get knocked down, lower than you have ever been, to stand up taller than you ever were.
‘Perseverance is stubbornness.’
Prime suspect Brueckner has insisted he was with an 18-year-old German woman, having sex in his camper van miles away from where Madeleine vanished from and he has given full details to a US documentary.
When he was named in June 2020 police asked for information in the distinctive yellow and white T3 campervan and DNA experts have been examining it ever since.
In her report Sandra highlighted how the fact that Mr Wolters refused to deny that something of Madeleine’s had been found was proof of his guilt.
Mr Wolters also revealed how he had not been in touch with the McCanns and said: ‘There is no relationship between the McCanns and me. I have never spoken with them and I have never written to them. There is no relationship.’
He also highlighted how the fact that Portuguese police had made Brueckner an ‘arguido’ or suspect in the case showed the German investigation was ‘going the right way’.
Brueckner is currently serving seven years for the rape of a 72-year-old woman in Praia da Luz in 2005, two years before Madeleine was snatched and he is in Germany’s Oldenburg jail.
Prosecutors are investigating him over the rape of a Irish tour guide Hazel Behan in the Algarve as well as a sexual assault in Praia da Luz on a ten-year-old German girl a month before Madeleine disappeared.
He is also being probed over an indecent exposure in a children’s playground in the Algarve and last month MailOnline revealed he was also being investigated over two further rapes.
The McCanns joined family, friends and villagers for their informal evening service yesterday as Wolters spoke with Portuguese TV.
A family source said: ‘Kate and Gerry enjoy going to the service for a time of prayer and quiet reflection. They always appreciate the support of the public.’
They met in the chilly night air at Cross Green on the milestone anniversary – where a candle for the world’s most famous missing child still burns around the clock.
During the service, local children went up to light candles to remember Madeleine, or a special person of their choice.
One little girl tripped and stumbled on the ground as she ran back to her mother, and a concerned Kate joined others calling ‘Whoops!’ then smiled as the child picked herself up unscathed.
Renowned and respected cardiologist Gerry, 53, casually dressed in navy trousers, salmon-pink T-shirt and grey-blue sweater, later individually thanked well wishers for attending the half-hour gathering.
Vicar of the local parish church, The Rev. Rob Gladstone, who led the prayers, opened the service by telling the crowd: ‘Once again after a gap of two years we’re able to come together again here at Cross Green to remember Madeleine, to show solidarity to Kate and Gerry, Sean and Amelie.
‘Lord we thank you for sustaining Gerry and Kate through these painful years.
‘Keep us their hope of finding Madeleine, of discovering the truth of her disappearance… real hope is hard won.’
During the gathering, touching messages of support were read out by children.
Iconic pictures of a young Madeleine were tied to the railing around the war memorial and a vase of fresh yellow flowers was placed on the ground.
The Madeleine candle burned brightly as Rev Gladstone said: ‘We hope the light here in Rothley dispels the darkness.’
At times Kate and Gerry appeared tearful, at other times they smiled.
Kate, who appeared to be limping, was hugged by friends and supporters.
Three-year-old Madeleine vanished from a holiday apartment in Portugal’s Praia da Luz in May 2007.
She was discovered missing from her bed in the seaside complex by her horrified mum shortly after 10pm. She had been left alone her younger siblings while her parents were dining in a nearby tapas restaurant with their seven pals.
On May 3, 2007 Kate and Gerry McCann went to a small tapas bar metres away from their apartment to dine with friends. But when Kate returned to do a routine check on their children, she found that Madeleine had disappeared
The farmhouse where the prime suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance lived was located just two miles from where she went missing from her family’s holiday apartment
Brueckner lived in the farmhouse above Praia da Luz (pictured) on the Algarve in Portugal and is said to have seldom mixed with his neighbours and allowed the property to fall into disrepair
The suspect, who is in prison in Germany for rape, has been linked to an early 1980s camper van – with a white upper body and yellow skirting, registered in Portugal – which is seen here on the Algarve in 2007. Police believe it may have been used in the crime
Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann have never given up hope of finding their daughter alive but are said to have welcomed the news that Brueckner has been charged
Madeleine vanished on May 3 2007 while on holiday with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, and her twin siblings Sean and Amelie
The McCanns joined family, friends and villagers for an informal evening service yesterday in Leicestershire
The annual outdoor event has been cancelled over the past two years because of Covid restrictions
The last photograph taken of Madeleine shows her smiling next to her little sister Amelie and their father Gerry at 1.30pm on May 3, 2007 in Portugal, the day she went missing
Officers are hoping to nail Christian Brueckner (pictured left) A man matching his description was seen outside the McCann’s apartment in the four days before (efit right). A phone call also links him to the area
45-year-old German national Christian Brueckner was first named as a suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance by German Police in 2020 and is known to be a convicted paedophile
Madeleine’s great uncle, retired head teacher Brian Kennedy, 83, who lives in the same village and has attended all 13 anniversary gatherings with his wife Janet, said: ‘Kate and Gerry feel heartened that something positive seems to be happening with the investigation.
‘They are being kept updated by the Met Police but they have no details to share now.
‘They have never lost hope even after all these years, and in juts over a week’s time Madeleine would be 19.
‘If you had told our family 15 years it would go on for so long without a resolution we would have thought that was very unlikely.’
He had earlier read a poem ‘The Beacon’ previously written for Kate and Gerry by former Poet Laureate Simon Armitage.
Madeleine’s parents told of their ‘need for answers’ in a public posting on the eve of the latest anniversary which they say is ‘a very long time.’
In a heartfelt posting on Monday on the Find Maddie and Official Campaign websites, the McCanns wrote: ‘Many people talk about the need for ”closure”. It’s always felt a strange term.
‘Regardless of outcome, Madeleine will always be our daughter and a truly horrific crime has been committed. These things will remain.
It is suspected that Brueckner received a telephone call shortly before three year old Maddie was abducted from her ground floor apartment. Pictured: The Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, where Madeleine disappeared during a family holiday in 2007
‘It is true though that uncertainty creates weakness; knowledge and certainty give strength, and for this reason our need for answers, for the truth, is essential.’
The couple praised three nations’ police forces for their continued work in trying to crack the painstaking case.
They posted: ‘We are grateful for the ongoing work and commitment of the UK, Portuguese and German authorities as it is this combined police effort which will yield results and bring us those answers.’
They added: ‘As always, we would like to thank all of our supporters for their continued good wishes and support.
‘It is a huge comfort to know that regardless of time passed, Madeleine is still in people’s hearts and minds. Thank you. Kate and Gerry.’
Their post is accompanied by a touching phrase from Winnie the Pooh author AA Milne, with a picture of Pooh bear and Piglet, saying: ‘But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.’
How the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann unfolded
May 3: Gerry and Kate McCann leave their three children, including Maddie, asleep in their hotel apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, as they eat with friends in a nearby restaurant. When they return, they find Maddie missing from her bed
May 4: A friend of the McCanns reports of seeing a man carrying a child away in the night. Meanwhile, airports and borders are put on high alert as search gets underway
May 14: Robert Mural, a property developer who lives a few yards from the hotel, is made a suspect by Portuguese police
May 30: The McCanns meet the Pope in Rome in a bid to bring worldwide attention to the search
August 11: Police in Portugal acknowledge for the first time in the investigation that Maddie might be dead.
September 7: Spanish police make the McCanns official suspects in the disappearance. Two days later the family flies back to England
July 21: Spanish police remove the McCanns and Mr Mural as official suspects as the case is shelved
May 1: A computer-generated image of what Maddie could look like two years after she disappeared is released by the McCanns
May 12: A review into the disappearance is launched by Scotland Yard, following a plea from then-Home Secretary Theresa May
April 25: After a year of reviewing the case, Scotland Yard announce they belief that Maddie could be alive and call on police in Portugal to reopen the case, but it falls on deaf ears amid ‘a lack of new evidence’
Kate and Gerry McCann mark the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine with the publication of the book written by her mother in 2011
July 4: Scotland Yard opens new investigation and claim to have identified 38 ‘people of interest’
October 24: A review into the investigation is opened by Portuguese police and new lines of inquiry are discovered, forcing them to reopen the case
January 29: British officers arrive in Portugal as a detailed investigation takes place. During the year, several locations are searched, including an area of scrubland near the resort
October 28: British police announce that team investigating Maddie’s disappearance is reduced from 29 officers to just four, as it is also revealed that the investigation has cost £10million
April 3: Operation Grange is handed an additional £95,000 by Theresa May to keep the investigation alive for another six months
March 11: Cash is once again pumped into keeping the investigation alive, with £85,000 granted to keep it running until September, when it is extended once again until April next year
March 27: The Home Office reveals it has allocated further funds to Operation Grange. The new fund is believed to be as large as £150,000
September 11: Parents fear as police hunt into daughter’s disappearance could be shelved within three weeks by the new Home Secretary amid funding cuts
September 26: Fresh hope in the search for Madeleine McCann as it emerges the Home Office is considering allocating more cash for the police to find her
April: Controversial new Netflix documentary re-examining Maddie’s kidnap is released, triggering a barrage of online abuse against Kate and Gerry by heartless trolls. They pair, who refused to take part in the eight hour programme series, slammed it for ‘potentially hindering’ the search for their daughter while an active police hunt is ongoing
June 5: The Home Office gives the Metropolitan Police enough funding to investigate for another year
June 22: Detectives say they are ‘closer than ever’ to solving the disappearance as they look into a new suspect. A joint effort by British and Portuguese police narrowed in on a ‘foreign’ man who was in the Algarve when she went missing in 2007
December 7: Paulo Pereira Cristovao, a long-time critic of Maddie’s parents who angered them with a controversial book about the mystery disappearance, was convicted of participating in the planning of two violent break-ins at properties in Lisbon and the nearby resort of Cascais. He is jailed for seven and a half years
December 11: Maddie’s revealed a touching list of what they miss most about their daughter as they spent their 13th Christmas without her
February 22: Scotland Yard detectives questioned a British expat about her German ex-boyfriend. Carol Hickman, 59, claims police entered her bar in Praia da Luz, Portugal to ask questions about her former partner
March 27: Detectives requested extra money to continue their investigation into the disappearance of the toddler in Portugal back in 2007, with funds for the operation set to run out at the end of the month
June 3: Police reveal that a 43-year-old German prisoner has been identified as a suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.
– May 4: Kate and Gerry McCann post a statement on the Official Find Madeleine Campaign website saying they still cling to the hope of seeing their daughter again as they prepare to mark her 18th birthday on May 12.
– April 21: Christian Brueckner, now 44, is made an ‘arguido’, a formal suspect, by Portuguese authorities.