German prosecutors have written to Madeleine McCann’s parents to tell them she is dead.
They refused to disclose how they knew, insisting that any further information could jeopardise the inquiry into suspect Christian Brueckner.
Hans Christian Wolters, who is leading the case, yesterday said he could not share key evidence with Scotland Yard officers or police in Portugal.
German prosecutors have written to Gerry and Kate McCann (pictured), the parents of missing child Madeline (in photo), to say that she has died
The prosecutors refused to discuss how they knew this information as it could affect their investigation into main suspect Christian Brueckner (pictured)
‘I sympathise with the parents but if we reveal more details to them it might jeopardise the investigation,’ he said.
‘We have concrete evidence that our suspect has killed Madeleine and this means she is dead.
The parents have been told the German police have evidence that she is dead but we have not told them the details.’
He said that Kate and Gerry McCann, whose three-year-old daughter vanished on an Algarve holiday in 2007, had not responded to the letter.
‘We of course really consider the fact that it is going to be very hard for the family when we tell them that we assume Madeleine is dead,’ he added.
‘But we can’t say why she is dead – it is more important that we are successful and we are able to get the culprit as opposed to just putting our cards on the table and telling them why we think she might be.
Christian Brueckner is the latest man to be linked with Madeline’s disappearance after a long history of offences
Madeline (pictured) was three-years-old when she went missing whilst the McCanns were on holiday at Praia da Luz, Portugal in 2007
13 YEARS OF HEARTACHE
May 3, 2007 – Madeleine McCann disappears from her apartment in Praia da Luz.
May 4 – Police do not set up effective searches or alert the Spanish border for 12 hours. A basic check of other guests is not done for 48 hours.
May 30 – The McCanns meet the Pope in Rome during a series of trips around Europe and beyond to highlight the search.
August – Sniffer dogs reportedly find blood traces in the McCanns’ apartment.
September 7 – The McCanns are made arguidos – official suspects. They were totally exonerated the following year.
2008 – Detective Goncalo Amaral falsely claims the McCanns hid Madeleine’s body.
2011 – The Met Police launches Operation Grange and identify almost 200 new lines of inquiry.
2013 – The Met identifies 38 people ‘of interest’. Portuguese detectives reopen the case.
2017 – A witness comes forward with the name of the German suspect, Christian Brueckner. The McCanns reveal they still buy gifts for Madeleine.
June 3, 2020 – Police sensationally reveal that they are investigating a German sex offender. Brueckner’s name emerges the following day.
June 8 – German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters says he has evidence Madeleine is dead – but won’t say what it is.
June 15 – Mr Wolters says he has written to the McCanns telling them he has evidence their daughter is dead. Once again, he gives no details.
‘This is a murder case not a missing persons case. We have been quite clear throughout we are investigating a murder and we have the evidence for that.
‘We can understand the pain of the parents – and they want relief – but it is better for them that we have a clear and successful conclusion to the case.
‘To reveal too many details too early would hamper ongoing investigations.
‘In Germany we are very reserved, I am not sure how it is in the UK, we keep everything to ourselves until we press charges.’
Rogerio Alves, a lawyer who represents the McCanns in Portugal, has been putting pressure on German investigators to reveal what evidence they have and demanded to know ‘what is being done to solve the case’.
He accused the three police forces involved in the probe of ‘keeping information for themselves’ and called on them to be more transparent toward the family.
Mr Alves is hoping Portuguese detectives will tell him what evidence they have to ‘support the reopening of the file here’.
He said: ‘I want to find out if there are new leads for them to chase. I want to know what is being done. I intend to get answers on these matters this week.
‘I don’t know how strong the new evidence is so I don’t know what the Portuguese prosecutor is going to do.’
According to Portuguese law, if the prosecutor has new information about a crime then the case should be reopened, he said.
Mr Alves described last week as a ‘lost week’ in the quest for justice for Madeleine’s parents.
He was deeply critical of the infighting between the Germans and the Portuguese and called on them to ‘stop the war of words’.
‘What I hope is that everybody helps to find the truth instead of hiding information, or keeping information for themselves,’ he said.
‘This is not a competition between the police departments. We all have to go forwards to find the truth.
‘Madeleine’s parents don’t want to know which police force thinks it is doing the best. They do not want a war of words.
‘It is no use – this is a waste of time. All the police should be doing is trying to solve the case. I want to see full cooperation between the police forces.’
Kate and Gerry McCann have not responded to the letter, which did not contain any details of the information understood by the prosecutors
Scotland Yard and German police have received more than 1,000 calls since sex offender Brueckner, 43, was identified as a suspect in connection with Madeleine’s disappearance from Praia da Luz in May 2007.
They believe the German drifter burgled holiday homes in the Algarve and on some occasions sexually assaulted women and girls inside the properties.
Public appeals for information have featured Brueckner’s former farmhouse and another property in which he stayed, as well as a VW campervan and Jaguar car he owned.
Detectives are also trying to find the person who phoned him an hour before Madeleine disappeared, shortly before her fourth birthday.
Police say that Brueckner received the call near the McCanns’ holiday apartment in the Ocean Club complex.
Mr Wolters played down the significance of the Jaguar despite Scotland Yard appealing for information about it.
He said the car was in Germany when Madeleine went missing and information about it was released only to jog memories. ‘The vehicles are not of direct interest for the Madeleine case,’ he said.
Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns, said: ‘The McCanns simply will not comment on private correspondence, be that from the prosecutor, the police or indeed anyone else.
‘Nor will they be giving a running commentary on their liaisons with the German authorities as the investigation moves forward.’
Detectives from Operation Grange – the £12million Scotland Yard probe into Madeleine’s disappearance – insist it remains a missing person’s inquiry.
Portuguese police prepare to search wells at prime suspect Christian Brueckner’s Praia da Luz villa in hunt for Maddie McCann’s body
By James Gant for Mail Online and Allan Hall in Berlin
Portuguese police are preparing to search wells at Christian Brueckner’s Praia da Luz villa in the hunt for Madeleine McCann’s body.
A single-storey farmhouse the prime suspect rented is less than half an hour away from where the three-year-old disappeared in 2007.
The building has a number of old wells on its land and a path leading to a beach Madeleine went to.
It comes as her parents Kate and Gerry may ‘be told within days how their daughter died’.
Brueckner’s lawyers have said he will not answer questions on Maddie until he sees proof he was involved.
He may also be in the clear over missing German child Inga Gehricke, who vanished in Saxony-Anhalt in 2015.
A single-storey farmhouse the prime suspect rented is less than half an hour away from where the three-year-old disappeared in 2007 and has become a focus point
It comes after Brueckner’s lawyers revealed he will not answer questions on Madeleine until he sees proof he was involved
The Judicial Police was yesterday considering searching the abandoned shafts in Praia da Luz for Madeleine’s body, according to Portuguese newspaper Sol.
Officers earlier this month were understood to be looking to dig up land around two houses Brueckner lived in while in Praia da Luz.
The other building sits on a hill above the resort, about 11 minutes away from the Ocean Club the McCanns were staying.
A Portuguese source told the Sun: ‘Judicial Police have confirmed they have been approached by German authorities in connection with the case and they will undoubtedly be prepared to carry out fresh searches in the hope of giving the McCanns closure.
‘The obvious focus would be around the hillside former farm building and another property nearby with links to him.’
Brueckner’s rented home has a number of old wells on its land and a path leading to a beach Madeleine went to
Kate and Gerry reportedly face being told within days how their daughter died as their Portuguese lawyer is set to meet with senior police.
German detectives say they have one piece of evidence that proves the child is dead.
They have not told the McCanns but have shared it with Portuguese police.
It was described it as ‘significant’ and ‘very important’.
The lawyer for the family from Leicestershire, Rogerio Alves, will meet them within days to find out more.
He is said to be hoping they will unveil the evidence they have on Brueckner.
The suspect’s lawyers said he will not answer questions on Madeleine until he sees proof he was involved.
Friedrich Fulscher told the Times: ‘Mr B is remaining silent on the allegation at this time on the advice of his defence counsel. This is quite common in criminal proceedings.
‘It is the duty of the state to prove that a suspect committed a crime. No accused person has to prove his innocence to the investigating authorities.’
And in another potential boost for Brueckner, he may be in the clear over the disappearance of five-year-old Inga in Germany five years ago.
It was widely reported that Brueckner was in the same area at the time. The Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating whether there are new investigative leads.
But according to respected German news magazine FOCUS, investigators currently have no clues as to Brueckner’s culpability.
Inga vanished on May 2, 2015, after travelling with her family near Uchtspringe in Saxony-Anhalt.
At around 7 pm, she ran into the nearby forest to collect firewood for a barbecue – and has not been seen since.
In the furore surrounding serial sex criminal Brueckner and the suspicions he is responsible for Maddie’s death, he was linked to Inga’s vanishing.
FOCUS said: ‘Now the relatives of the girl and large sections of the public are asking themselves: were the traces of Christian B. really be intensively enough at that time? Or may investigators have overlooked something crucial? Did they let go too soon?.
‘The fact is that the current findings in the Maddie case have further strengthened the efforts of the competent public prosecutor’s office in Stendal to investigate the Inga case.
‘But prosecutor Thomas Kramer confirmed to FOCUS Online there is ‘no concrete suspicion, no hot streak.
‘His Mobile phone was not logged into the crime scene area. We have no concrete evidence that he was in the immediate vicinity of the crime scene on the day of the crime.’
The prosecutor said Christian B had already been investigated ‘comprehensively and intensively’.
Bruekner may be in the clear regarding another missing toddler called Inga Gehricke, who vanished in Saxony-Anhalt in 2015
After Inga’s disappearance, the Stendal investigators had examined all sex offenders who were eligible candidates for the crime.
On July 23, 2015, a so-called trace file was created for Christian Brueckner, based on information from the Braunschweig police.
Brueckner lived in Braunschweig at the time and owned a dilapidated building in the district of Börde in Saxony-Anhalt.
During a search in another case in 2016, investigators found six USB sticks and two phone chip cards there.
Prosecutor Kramer said: ‘The evaluation led to the seizure of a large number of child pornography files, but they had no connection to Inga.’
It is also known he had a minor car accident on the A2 autobahn near Helmstedt the day before Inga’s disappearance.
Prosecutor Kramer told FOCUS Online: ‘The accident in a parking lot happened on the route between Braunschweig and Christian B.’s property in Neuwegersleben. According to our findings, it is unrelated to the disappearance of Inga.’
The crime scene is about 60 miles to the northeast of the crash site.
Kramer told FOCUS Online prosecutors will continue their efforts to resolve the Inga case. He rejected Inga’s family’s criticism of the investigation.
It emerged yesterday an attack on a 10-year-old British girl in Praia da Luz two years before Madeleine disappeared has formed part of German inquiries.
Portuguese police have been asked to send on details of the 2005 assault, Hans Christian Wolters, the prosecutor heading the investigation, confirmed.
The request from German authorities follows their suspicions Brueckner could be responsible for other assaults.
In the attack – which took place in 2005 – it is thought the person slipped into the girl’s holiday apartment while her parents were out. Pictured is the apartment block Maddie went missing from in 2007
The previous attack on a British holidaymaker was revealed by Met Police officers in 2014 after they joined the worldwide search for the youngster.
In the attack – which took place in 2005 – it is thought the person slipped into the girl’s holiday apartment while her parents were out.
Police said there were 18 similar cases along the Algarve coast over a six-year period that could possibly be linked.
Many were classified as ‘near misses’ after parents returned home to disturb the intruder.
The attacker was said to have a deep tan and stale smell, leading investigator to believe he could be a bin man.
Many of the incidents took place early in the morning after refuse collections had been completed.
The attack on the 10-year-old was not widely publicised and only came to light after an appeal by Met Police officers.
It comes after German prosecutors admitted last week that Madeleine could still be alive.
In comments which could ignite fresh hopes for her parents Kate and Gerry, prosecutor Hans Wolters said there was no forensic evidence to say she is dead.
Madeleine McCann could still be alive, according to the German prosecutor Hans Wolters (left) who previously suggested she was likely to be dead. Pictured right: Paedophile Christian Brueckner, who is suspected of kidnapping Madeleine
This was despite officials saying they were convinced she is no longer alive after news emerged earlier this month of new prime suspect Brueckner.
German prosecutors had also said they knew how the little girl was killed but had no idea where her body is.
But speaking to the Mirror, Mr Wolters said: ‘Because there is no forensic evidence there may be a little bit of hope.
‘We don’t want to kill the hope and because there is no forensic evidence it may be possible.
‘I am surprised the fact we say or I say Madeleine is dead is so important for the British people.’
The prosecutor added in Germany it is ‘normal’ to assume a murder has taken place in similar cases.
Brueckner is currently in prison in Kiel, northern Germany, for drugs offences and is appealing a conviction for rape from last year over a 2005 attack.
Mr Wolters also admitted his previous assertion Madeleine may have been ‘killed quickly’ was only ‘personal opinion and speculation’.
This was despite officials repeatedly saying that they were convinced she is no longer alive after news emerged earlier this month of new prime suspect Brueckner
He said he came to the opinion ‘without facts’ based on experience of previous kidnapping cases.
Portuguese police reportedly did not interview Brueckner in the weeks after the three-year-old’s disappearance as they did not know he was a sex offender.
At the time of Madeline’s disappearance, the German was living in the Praia da Luz area.
But his criminal past in Germany was not known to detectives searching for Madeleine.
While all sex offenders in the Algarve region came under suspicion and were interviewed, 43-year-old Brueckner was not among them.
Though Brueckner had two convictions for theft and disobedience since arriving in Portugal in 1998, he was not on the radar of those searching for the youngster.
His name was included in a file sent to British police in 2011 – but only because he was a foreigner who had been jailed and not because he was linked to a sex crime.
It was not until Brueckner ‘confessed’ to a friend in a bar in Germany that he knew about Madeleine’s disappearance that he became the prime suspect.
German prosecutors are convinced he killed the child but admitted they do not have enough evidence to charge him with murder.
German prosectuors, who are investigating Brueckner for links to Madeleine’s 2007 disappearance, had also said they knew how the little girl was killed but had no idea where her body is. Pictured: Portuguese police at the the Praia da Luz resort from where Maddie disappeared
It comes after news emerged that Portuguese police reportedly did not interview Brueckner in the weeks after the three-year-old’s disappearance as they did not know that he was a convicted sex offender.
Kate and Gerry McCann continue to hope that their daughter is alive
Portuguese media said EU countries did not routinely share information on all criminals in the 1990s.
Brueckner was convicted of molesting a six-year-old girl in a playground in his home town of Wurzburg, Bavaria, in 1994 when he was just 17.
He left Germany for the Algarve after serving part of a two-year youth sentence for the crime. But that conviction was unknown to police on the McCann case in 2007.
What do we know about Maddie murder suspect Christian Brueckner and his criminal past?
1976: Christian Brueckner 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 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 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 linked to the crime. The farmhouse is cleaned and a bag of wigs 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.
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 Italy and extradited to Germany and put on trial for raping an American in 2007 after a DNA match was 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.