The 3-year-old went missing in 2007.
Three-year-old Madeleine McCann went missing on May 3, 2007, while on holiday with her family in the resort town of Praia da Luz, Portugal. The child was sleeping in a luxury holiday apartment with her twin siblings that evening while her parents were having dinner at a resort restaurant nearby. When they returned to the room, however, the girl was missing. A massive search ensued, the child was never found.
The case made international headlines and has been the subject of several books, articles, and television specials, in part, due to bungled investigations as well as the lack of DNA evidence being collected from the scene.
It was announced last week by the Braunschweig Public Prosecutor's Office in Germany that investigators had identified a 43-year-old man in a German prison as a murder suspect in the case. Identified as Christian B., a German national, he was known to investigators in the case and had connections to the area where Madeleine disappeared—he lived and worked there in the years surrounding her disappearance.
He is currently serving time after being convicted of the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old American woman in Praia da Luz and has previous convictions for sexual crimes against children. Vehicles similar to those the suspect owns were reported seen around the resort in the days before and after Madeleine disappeared, and are now in police custody. Phone records place him near the resort on the evening of the crime.
There was not enough solid evidence to connect him to the crime at the time, but investigators now feel that they have that evidence and have opened a murder investigation.
This turn of events means that investigators, at least those in Germany, believe Madeline is deceased. The case is being pursued in Braunschweig, Germany, as it was the last official place he was registered as living before moving out of the country. In the U.K., the case is still listed as a missing person case.
Madeleine McCann’s parents gave a statement, which was shared with the BBC:
"We would like to thank the police forces involved for their continued efforts in the search for Madeleine. All we have ever wanted is to find her, uncover the truth, and bring those responsible to justice. We will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive, but whatever the outcome may be, we need to know as we need to find peace."
Investigators have released the suspect’s phone number and another phone number of interest, asking for the public to share any tips or information they have on the suspect.
The identification of a suspect is major news and ignites hope that her family may finally know what happened to Madeleine that fateful night. We hope the family will find the peace they need, and that justice for little Madeleine McCann will be served.