Who is Madeleine McCann? 16 Years After History's Most Widely Reported Disappearance, Portugal Police Chase New Leads

The Portuguese police intensified the search at a remote water body in the hopes of finding clues to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann more than 16 years ago. The search was launched near a reservoir around 50 km from the holiday home where the British toddler went missing. The new search is revolved around evidence relating to a German suspect.

Who is Madeleine McCann?

Madeleine McCann disappeared from bed in a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on the evening of 3 May 2007, at the age of 3. The Daily Telegraph described the disappearance as "the most heavily reported missing-person case in modern history". However, the global search has led to no positive outcome. Now after 17 years after she went missing Portuguese police has restarted her search after German police received a "tip-off".

Madeleine Mccann

What Happened to Madeleine?

Madeleine McCann went missing from her bedroom in the apartment her family was staying in. She disappeared when her parents Kate and Gerry were dining with friends at a nearby restaurant. While Madeleine and her twin baby siblings were sleeping, the flat was broken into, and local police concluded it was a kidnapping. The family expressed their dissatisfaction with the initial police response and the failure to secure the crime scene.

gary & kate mccann

The McCanns turned to the media for help in finding their daughter, and the case drew international attention, with football stars David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo among those who joined appeals for information, as well as a meeting with Pope Francis.

However, massive searches did not yield any results. Later in 2007 parents Garry and Kate McCann were made the formal suspects and questioned by police. In July 2008 Portuguese police dropped all charges against them due to lack of evidence and investigations were stopped.

In 2011, then-British Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a review by London police after being contacted by the toddler's family. And the following year, detectives said they had identified 195 "investigative opportunities" and in 2013 the police began their investigation, saying they had identified 38 potential suspects.

Who is German Suspect?

Nearly three years earlier, British and German police identified a 43-year-old German man as a suspect. The man, identified as Christian Brueckner, lived in the Algarve region from 1995 and 2007 and burgled hotels and holiday flats as well as traded drugs, the same area from where Madeleine went missing.

He was jailed for seven years in 2019 for raping and robbing a 72-year-old American woman in same resort from where Madeleine disappeared. And in April 2022, he was identified as an official suspect in Madeleine's disappearance but has not been charged with any crime relating to her. In April, a court in the German city of Braunschweig threw out unrelated rape and sexual offences against Brueckner.

What is the status now?

Portuguese police aided by German and British colleagues on Tuesday resumed their search for Madeleine McCann. Between 20 and 30 officers, some in uniform, could be seen in the area by the Arade dam, about 52km from Praia da Luz, where the 3-year-old was last seen alive in 2007. The area around reservoir has been declared as no fly zone.