A German pedophile is believed to have murdered Madeleine McCann, leaving her distraught parents wondering if the mystery disappearance of their little girl has finally been solved after 13 years.

Christian Brueckner, 43, is already behind bars, serving a seven-year sentence in Kiel jail in northern Germany for rape. According to the MailOnline, the 43-year-old has a total of 17 previous convictions, and prosecutors claim he began abusing ‘little girls” as a teenager

In addition to the alleged abduction and murder of 3-year-old Maddie, he’s also been linked by authorities to several other cases involving young children—including the disappearance of a 6-year-old boy, Rene Hassee in Portugal in 1996, a 5-year-old girl, Inga Gehrike, in Germany in 2007, and the abduction and murder of 16-year-old Carola Titze, who disappeared in 1996 during a vacation in De Haan, Belgium.

Madeleine was just 9 days short of her 4th birthday when she vanished into thin air back on May 3rd, 1997, during a family holiday at The Ocean Club, a Mark Warner resort in the small town of Praia De Luz, located in the popular Portuguese tourist area, the Algarve.

It’s every parents’ worst nightmare, your 3-year-old goes missing while you’re in a foreign country, where you don’t speak the language, and the police seem to have a very laissez-faire attitude towards investigating her disappearance.

It quickly turned into an even worse nightmare, however, because, just like in the case of JonBenét Ramsey, the police and the world’s media, ended-up suspecting Maddie’s parents themselves—and inevitably the investigation  became tunnel-visioned, focused solely on Kate and Gerry McCann.

Bizarrely, in Portugal, a disappearance, even that of a child as young as Madeleine, is not treated as a serious crime—lead investigator, Gonçalo Amaral, of  the Policia Judiciåria, AKA the PJ (the Portuguese version of the FBI) admitted as such in the compelling Netflix docu-series, “The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann.”

“We inspected the [crime scene] as if it had been a robbery, it is what you might call the most minimal of inspection in terms of  details,” Amaral confessed on camera.

Given that attitude, it’s little surprise that it took several calls from resort staff before a couple of local cops who happened to be on patrol in the area turned up 11.10 pm, over an hour after Madeleine had been discovered missing.

It took another couple of hours before two officers from the PJ were finally dispatched to the scene.

In the meantime, the second Kate had discovered her daughter was missing an unofficial massive manhunt had been sparked, with all the guests and some of the staff from the resort searching the entire area.

A multitude of people traipsed through villa 5A, where the McCanns were staying, checking every inch of the building, and literally tearing through the bedroom that Madeleine had disappeared from while sleeping in a bed next to her two-year-old twin siblings.

Needless to say, it resulted in the immediate crime scene and the surrounding area being entirely contaminated and destroyed, evidence wise.

The search party continued late into the early hours of the next morning and the McCanns resumed their frantic search once again as soon as daybreak arrived at 6 am.

Suspect Number One

British-born Robert Murat lived with his mother in her house Casa Liliana, which was located just 150 yards from where the McCanns were staying at the Ocean Club.

The then 34-year-old had a daughter of his own back in the UK, who was a similar age to Madeleine, so he’d taken a particular interest in the case. Given his ability to speak fluent Portuguese he offered to step in and act as a translator and became very involved in the search and investigation.

However, Murat’s good intentions ended-up working against him and ultimately ruining his life, as people started questioning his close involvement and motives—and he quickly became the first primary suspect.

Murat’s phone was tapped, his house was raided and he was taken in for questioning and subjected to extreme and intimidating interrogation tactics, including torture procedures, according to The Times newspaper.

But, he was eventually released without charge as there was no clear evidence linking him to Madeleine’s disappearance, and he refused to confess to anything, claiming he’d been at home all night with his mom at the time she went missing.

However, he was still publicly named by cops as officially being an “Arguido” (the Portuguese term for “formal suspect”) and he unwittingly became public enemy number one.

The international media latched on to Murat, running front-page stories painting him as the perp—zooming in on the fact he was a realtor (which, let’s face isn’t viewed in the most favorable light by the majority of people), that it was “off” that he lived with his mother, and even commenting on the fact that he had a dodgy eye–presumably rendering him an untrustworthy and “strange” man.

As public and media speculation grew, he was literally hounded 24-7 by hoards of journalists from all around the globe. According to the BBC, Murat ended up suing the press for libel, and in 2008 he accepted a £600,000 settlement from 11 British newspapers.

Suspect Number Two

Sergay Malinka, a 23-year-old Russian IT specialist living in Portugal with his parents was the next person to be linked to the case, because he had helped Murat design a website. Malinka was taken in for questioning, by officers still desperate to pin the crime on Murat, but if they couldn’t get him then somebody close to him would suffice.

The interrogation became ever-increasingly aggressive over time with, at one point, an officer threatening to pin the crime on Malinka if he didn’t confess that Murat had taken Madeleine,

Malinka’s mother was also taken in for questioning, his house was raided and his computer seized, which was discovered to have some kind of pornography on it—that information was leaked to the press, without any context, and unsubstantiated stories began springing up about Malinka being involved in drug and human trafficking.

Eventually however, just like Murat, he was cleared of any suspicion, but his life was also ruined.

According to the Guardian newspaper, Malinka was apprehended a second time, seven years later, in 2014 and subjected to another round of questioning, but once again he was released without charge.

Not surprisingly, as the clock ticked on and they were no closer to finding their daughter, the McCanns grew ever increasingly frustrated with the Portuguese police, and the relationship between them began to turn decidedly hostile.

Hushing It Up For Tourism

One huge mitigating factor in the flawed and floundering investigation by the PJ is that the Portuguese government was allegedly desperate to link the crime to an “outsider” because quite simply, they didn’t want to scare tourists away from what was a hugely popular vacation destination.

They also didn’t want to shatter the belief that the Algarve is the “safest area” in the whole of Portugal, which remains to this day one of the poorest countries in the European Union.

In reality, Portugal suffers its fair share of crime, which is not surprising given the level of poverty. It has numerous homicides, robberies and home invasions each year, in addition to child abductions for sex trafficking purposes, including around the area where Madeleine was taken from, a fact that was both ignored and hidden at the time.

In addition, the Algarve is the main port of entry for drugs being smuggled into Europe from Morocco, which is a three-hour boat ride away from the Portuguese coastline, and there is a slew of international organized crime gangs active throughout the region.

Under Pressure

As the days turned into weeks and there was still no sign of Madeliene, and no real leads, the pressure was piling onto the Portuguese police to solve the crime.

The international press began running sensationalist and cop-shaming headlines mocking the PJ over their “incompetence” and “laziness”, resulting in an immense resentment against the British, whose media was the biggest culprit in the media circus.

Weird & Unusual Behavior

With pressure and desperation increasing, the PJ had to find somebody to blame, STAT, so they started pointing the finger of blame at Kate and Gerry McCann.

It didn’t take long for the media to jump on the bandwagon and suddenly become obsessed with analyzing Kate and Gerry’s “weird and unusual” behavior.

By that time the parents’ frustration over the fruitless and flawed investigation had understandably turned into utter despair and anger—it was apparent during the ongoing regular press conferences that they had been advised to participate in, and in their reaction to the crowds of reports that constantly followed them.

Kate and Gerry, who are both doctors, were accused of not “acting properly”, of not expressing enough emotion, and of being too detached and hostile.

It didn’t help that Kate has a tendency to suffer from what’s commonly referred to as ‘“resting bitch face” (although, FFS, what’s the rule book for how to look and act when your child has disappeared and you’re grief-stricken, devastated and terrified?).

Meanwhile, Gerry was perceived as being “very detached and very cold”, and many who worked on the case have admitted to “not really liking him”.

So, combined with other factors, they made for the perfect potential villains in the eyes of the cops and the media—now it was time to build a case against them.

The Case Building

In fairness, the McCanns made it a fairly easy task, given the public’s perception of them, the circumstances leading up to Maddie being taken, the somewhat shaky, and flip-flopping timeline they provided, and the disparity in information provided during the initial police interviews given by the couple and “The Tapas Seven” as their group of friends became to be known as.

The McCanns had gone on vacation with seven friends, six of whom were also doctors and the group had eight children between them. The Ocean Club resort was known for being very “family-friendly” with a daily kids’ club packed full of activities, and a nightly creche service offered to parents who wanted an adult evening out minus the kids.

However, none of the McCann group chose to utilize the creche service—Kate explained during a tear-filled TV interview that they decided not to because they didn’t want to disrupt the kids’ sleeping by dropping them off and picking them up later.

Instead, the group made the decision that they would each perform a check on their own kids, every 20-30 minutes, while they dined together each night at a tapas restaurant, which was situated approximately 180 feet from the McCanns’ villa, across from one of the resort’s swimming pools.

Gerry McCann insisted there was a “clear view” of the villa from their table and that between him and Kate they performed regular and thorough checks on their sleeping kids—the group all backed-up his account, as they did everything else the McCanns stated.

“It was like dining out in the back garden of your house,” Gerry commented in an interview.

However, it transpired that the villa wasn’t really as visible as Gerry had claimed, you couldn’t clearly see the doors or windows from the tapas restaurant, and the main view was of just a bit of the building’s structure.

Then it was revealed that the “thorough” checks weren’t quite as thorough or regular as the group claimed.

Gerry said he had performed a check at 9.05 pm, went inside, and everything seemed fine, but he noticed the kids’ bedroom door was ajar, so he closed it and went back to the restaurant.

Kate was due to carry out the next check at 9.30 pm, but instead, Matthew Oldfield, a member of the group, offered to check on them on her behalf while he was looking in on his own kids next door.

Oldfield said that he noticed the bedroom door was wide open, but after hearing no noise, he assumed all was OK and returned to the restaurant without actually looking inside the room.

Kate was next to go check, at 10 pm. She entered via the unlocked sliding side door and also noticed the bedroom door was wide open. According to the Express newspaper, when she tried to quietly close the door, it abruptly slammed shut, due to a gust of wind. It was then that she entered inside the room, noticed the window was wide open and that Madeleine’s bed was empty. She was nowhere to be found.

Kate became frantic, searching everywhere for her daughter, admitting to even looking under her bed to see if she was hiding there— a claim police later used against her, after they leaked photos of the room to the media, showing the bed was only two inches off the floor.

But in reality, in that situation, experiencing the levels of terror and panic that you would be feeling, you oftentimes don’t exactly act rationally.

Maddie had vanished, the hunt was on—little could either of the parents have known back then that the nightmare would continue for thirteen more years.

Bring In The Brits (And The Dogs)

As the case grew colder and there were still no credible leads, the PJ finally agreed to accept the assistance of both the FBI and the British police.

A deluge of new cops arrived in the country, leading to one of the biggest missing child hunts in the world. Two sniffer dogs were deployed and police claimed one of them discovered “incriminating” evidence on the floor of the villa, whilst the other discovered traces of blood in the trunk of the car that the McCanns rented several weeks after Maddie had disappeared. DNA samples were taken and sent back to Britain to be analyzed.

The McCanns first learned of the sniffer dogs’ alleged findings 97 days after Maddie had vanished, and it finally dawned on them that they had become the suspects themselves—but worst of all, that nobody would now be looking for the actual person who took their daughter.

The next day the couple went to church, flanked by over 70 photographers, screaming questions at them about whether they had killed their child. It was clear the tide had turned against them, ferociously.

Lawyering Up

The McCanns immediately hired an attorney, angering the PJ yet further, and leading to a number of false allegations being leaked to the press, including bloody footprints and the supposed discovery of a syringe in the villa—which, you would think the “unofficial” search party that had initially torn the house apart might have noticed at the time.

The police had crafted their narrative—Kate had injected the children with some medication, like a kind of Nyquil or something, so they would sleep soundly while her and Gerry went out to eat at 8.30 pm, but she had injected too much into Maddie and the little girl had overdosed and died.

The police insisted that the group’s claim of regularly checking on the children was a fabrication and that when Kate had discovered her daughter dead, she and Gerry had hidden the body in a fridge, before transporting it in the trunk of the car they rented 25 days later, then disposed of Madeleine’s remains. (which, at time of posting, have never been discovered).

Quite how they managed that feat while being hounded and followed non-stop by the world’s media is inconceivable.

Becoming Arguidos

With the McCanns now the PJ’s sole focus, Kate was apprehended and subjected to 11 hours of aggressive interrogation after which she was advised by her lawyer that the police had offered to cut her a deal—she would plead guilty to accidentally killing Madeleine, disposing of a cadaver, and tampering with a crime scene—and receive a two-year sentence in return.

However, if she didn’t accept the deal, she was told, she would face actual murder charges and potentially spend the rest of her life behind bars.

Not surprisingly, Kate McCann was furious, and she refused the deal, which angered police yet further and led to them publicly announcing in September 2007, that the McCanns were now officially “Arguidos”, effectively making them guilty in the eyes of the public, despite not actually being charged with any crime.

Getting The Hell Out Of Dodge

The flood of negative press that was already in full effect soon ramped up to even higher levels of vitriol, and seemingly overnight, public sympathy towards the traumatized and grieving parents turned into a tsunami of hatred, blame, and parent-shaming, with the PJ secretly, behind the scenes, fanning the flames with a steady stream of oftentimes entirely false information.

To say the McCanns were vilified, would be an understatement.

Without a doubt, the majority of rebuke, fury, and venom was heaped on Kate, with her being branded evil and a negligent mother.

With hostility growing by the day, and Kate facing the possibility of life behind bars Gerry made the decision to leave Portugal immediately with his wife and the twins.

The police took that as a sign of obvious guilt, and as far as they were concerned it was case closed due to the DNA the dogs had discovered.

Portugal’s “safe” reputation and even more importantly, their very profitable tourism industry was safely intact once again.

They just had to get the McCanns back into the country so they could officially charge them and end the nightmare forever–for the Portuguese authorities anyway.

The McCanns were met with an equal level of hostility upon their return to Britain, and to make matters worse they had been effectively “gagged” from talking about the case and proving their innocence by Portuguese law, which forbids anybody with Arguido status from talking about the crimes they are accused of.

Enter Brian Kennedy, a Scottish self-made millionaire, who like everyone else at the time had been closely following the case. Kennedy believed there was something just “off” about the case and he arranged a meeting with the McCanns to determine how he could help them prove their innocence and find Madeleine.

The Dodgy Doggie DNA

Meanwhile, the police case began totally falling to pieces as soon as the DNA test results were released. The DNA was deemed as being “too meager, too complex,too  inconclusive” to give any credence to the PJ’s claims, in fact, there was not one single definitive match to Madeleine’s DNA.

Most important of all, it was determined that although there was indeed a number of pointers that matched the 3-year-old’s DNA, there was not one single trace of anyone’s blood, let alone Maddie’s, found in the samples collected from the villa or the car, and the evidence could have come from anybody with matching pointers.

Given the fact she had been staying at the villa, it would be more damning if NO evidence of Madeleine had been found there. The car trunk was more troubling though, as the vehicle had been rented weeks after her disappearance, so why were possible traces of Maddie discovered there?

Well, what had been viewed and widely reported as absolutely “damning” evidence against the McCanns, in reality, was totally worthless and far from it.

The McCanns had transported some of Madeleine’s possessions, clothing, toys etc, in the trunk of the car, so, once again, of course there was evidence found there.

The report concluded that only 15 of the 20 matches that are required to determine with certainty that DNA belongs to one specific person were discovered in the evidence that was collected.

Madeleine’s DNA sequence would have been a mixture of her parents’, so what was found could have come from either of them or from her twin siblings.

Despite the PJ’s protests that the DNA samples had been mysteriously tampered with somehow, and that the McCanns were still guilty of murder, their Arguido status was lifted in July 2008, after Portugal’s Attorney General archived the case for lack of evidence.

Bring On The Trolls

But, as far as the public was concerned “there’s no smoke without fire” and Kate and Gerry were still guilty (as NOT charged).

With their Arguido status lifted, the couple was now free to talk about the case, but sadly, that ultimately made everything SO MUCH worse, Kate was accused of not appearing to be “grieving” enough, while Gerry was deemed as “aloof and not caring enough”.

It was still the early days of social media but the trolls went to town, tearing the McCanns to pieces, scrutinizing their every move and word, and spewing a torrent of venom and hateful abuse.

Kennedy hired a PR team in the hope of trying to limit the attacks against Gerry and Kate, and control the media interviews they carried out—but once again that massively backfired, as the couple was perceived as “attention-seeking” and being more desperate for “self-publicity” than finding out what happened to their daughter—which in many people’s eyes was yet more evidence of their “guilt”.

Time For the Big Boys

Meanwhile, Kennedy dipped into his own pocket to hire the creme de la creme of private investigators and ordered them to “go for it” and delve deep.

“They went at it with great gusto,” he claimed during the Netflix doc.

It didn’t take long for them to uncover a couple of crucial witnesses that the police had pretty much ignored following up with, aside from creating a sketch of the possible suspect both witnesses had seen at the time.

One of the witnesses, Jane Tanner, a member of “The Tapas Seven” had been dining with the group on the night Maddie disappeared. She claims that when she went to check on her kids, she saw a 5’7” white man walking “very quickly” across the street carrying a little blonde girl in his arms, who was dressed in light-colored pajamas (just like Madeleine’s), right by the Ocean Club, 45 minutes before she was discovered missing.

The other witness had described the same looking man rushing across a street nearby, once again carrying a little blonde girl in his arms.

This was the sketch the PJ created:

Yep, really.

Kennedy’s investigators hired a professionally trained FBI artist, who had studied as a portrait painter before utilizing her skills to produce images of suspects from eyewitness accounts.

She managed to produce a “slightly” more detailed picture than the police previously had.

Just slightly.

Kennedy decided to ramp up the investigation yet further, distributing the eyewitness sketch widely, which resulted in a tsunami of calls from the public from all around the world claiming to have spotted Madeleine–the vast majority of which proved false, but still needed to be followed up on.

Kennedy made sure every avenue was explored, even traveling to the mountains of Morocco himself, accompanied by his son, to investigate one seemingly very viable spotting of Madeleine, which turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.

Over the following years the investigation fizzled, was re-ignited, fizzled again, and so on and so on, until finally, now, it appears the mystery has been solved.

Pigs Also Eat Human Flesh

This image distributed, by Carabinieri (Italian paramilitary police), shows a man identified as Christian Brueckner.

Kate McCann had vowed that she would look for her little girl “forever” and that she would never give up hope that she would be found alive.

Sadly, her hopes were dashed forever though after it was announced that Christian Brueckner had drunkenly boasted of abducting and murdering Madeleine.

“The child is dead and that’s a good thing,” Brueckner is alleged to have screamed at staff members during a work shift in 2014.

“Once he was completely freaked out when we were sitting talking with friends about the Madeleine case,”  bartender Lenta Johlitz claimed.

“He wanted us to stop. He cried out, ‘The child is dead now and that’s a good thing’, then he said: ‘You can make a body disappear quickly. Pigs also eat human flesh’.”

German police made a television appeal on June 3rd for anybody who may have more information to come forward.

According to the BBC, during the appeal, Det Ch Insp Cranwell said that Brueckner, then aged 30, frequented the Algarve between 1995 and 2007, staying for “days upon end” in a camper van and living a “transient lifestyle”.

He was proven to be in the Praia de Luz area where the McCann family was staying when Maddie disappeared.

“Some people will know the man we’re describing today… you may be aware of some of the things he’s done,” Cranwell said.

“He may have confided in you about the disappearance of Madeleine. More than 13 years have passed and your loyalties may have changed,”

“Now is the time to come forward,” he added.

Is The Nightmare Finally Over?

So, has the nightmare finally ended for Kate and Gerry McCann?

Christian Brueckner certainly seems like a highly credible suspect, and he was in the right place at the right time, not to mention the fact he has a criminal record that backs-up his boasts.

But, if he really did feed Maddie to “the pigs” then her body will never be found, and maybe nobody will ever truly know what happened to poor little Madeleine McCann.

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4 Comments

  • Brian Page, June 11, 2020 @ 8:49 am Reply

    What a great article.It brings everything together in a succinct précis of a very complicated and extremely sad case.

  • Minni, June 14, 2020 @ 10:34 am Reply

    Fantastic article, yet another fabulous , investigative piece that makes it easy to understand such a complex case that’s spanned almost two decades. Great work Max.

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