Authorities in Portugal and Germany have reportedly confirmed the name of the German man who is a suspect tied to the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann from a beach resort in the Algarve, Portugal, more than 13 years ago. Portuguese police have identified him as 43-year-old Christian Brueckner to the Daily Telegraph. The Daily Beast has not confirmed the name independently.
Brueckner is alleged to have been in the area where the McCann family was on holiday with friends, and witnesses say he was seen near the resort in Praia da Luz, in Portugal, in the days leading up to the little girl’s disappearance. He is alleged to have transferred the title of a Jaguar he was driving at the time to someone else the day after McCann disappeared. His phone also reportedly received a lengthy call around the time McCann was presumably snatched from her bed. Investigators have not said if they have yet determined who made that call or for what purpose it lasted so long.
Police in Germany and the U.K. announced on Wednesday that a man serving time in a German prison for crimes including child rape and sexual contact with young girls was a new suspect in the case. German authorities confirmed on Wednesday that a suspect, who they did not name at the time, was under investigation for the murder of the young girl, who disappeared in 2007, telling reporters, “We are assuming that the girl is dead.”
British authorities have not yet changed their “missing persons” investigation called Operation Grange to a homicide inquiry despite the German prosecutor’s insistence that he is leading a murder investigation. On Wednesday, British detectives posted extensive new details on the Operation Grange website, including calls for information about an early 1980s model VW T3 Westfalia camper van with a white upper body and a yellow skirting with Portuguese plates.
A detective working with the Find Madeleine campaign told The Daily Beast that there is still “no credible evidence” that McCann is dead or alive. Until such evidence surfaces, he says, they will continue to assume the young girl is still alive.
Several appeals and documentaries in 2017 on the 10th anniversary of the case sparked renewed interest in the unsolved mystery. On Wednesday, authorities in Germany, Portugal, and the U.K. published the telephone number Brueckner reportedly used at the time of the disappearance to solicit new leads.
Police had previously investigated German pedophile Martin Ney, who was also thought to be in Portugal at the time McCann disappeared. It is unclear if the two investigations are connected, or if Ney provided evidence that led to Brueckner being named as a suspect.
The McCann family posted a statement about the developments on their website: “All we have ever wanted is to find her, uncover the truth and bring those responsible to justice,” a statement says. “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.”
McCann disappeared from the apartment while the McCanns ate tapas at a nearby bar, with the parents and friends taking turns at regular intervals to check on McCann and her younger twin siblings. McCann’s parents were, for a time, considered persons of interest and have since been in a legal battle with the chief investigator over a book in which he alleges that they were involved.