Police Say Madeleine McCann's Disappearance Could Be Solved In Months

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Madeleine McCann, Christian Breuckner

Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann say the case could be solved within months as more information is being gathered about a prime suspect, Christian Brueckner.

Brueckner was revealed to be a prime suspect in the case last year, but prosecutors recently stated they had been investigating the German national for three years prior to going public with his information.

The public appeal for information has proved somewhat successful and investigators appear to be closing in on information about McCann's disappearance.

“We hope we can solve the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, although this will take several months,” said German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, “We are pleased with the response to our appeal for witnesses. But ­unfortunately not all our questions have been answered.”

The disappearance of Madeleine McCann captured the world's attention in 2007. The British toddler had been on vacation with her family in Portugal when she vanished without a trace from the rented apartment they were staying in. She was never seen again.

The high-profile investigation has bewildered authorities for years, but it could be coming to a close with an increased focus on Breuckner.

Who is Christian Brueckner, the primary suspect in Madeleine McCann's case?

Christian Brueckner is a 43-year-old German national who was living in a van on the beach near where the McCann's were staying in 2007. British and German authorities have tracked his whereabouts at the time of the disappearance and can reliably say he was in the area.

He may have been one of several blonde men said to have been seen earlier in the day the same apartment complex where Madeleine went missing.

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Brueckner is a convicted sex offender.

Brueckner has been linked to sex offenses including the rape of a 72-year-old woman who was on vacation in Portugal the year before the McCann case.

He is currently serving a seven-year jail term for that crime, after being convicted of it in 2018, 11 years after it happened.

German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters told reporters, "The 43-year-old suspect is a multiple sexual predator already convicted of crimes against little girls."

German news reports say he has 17 convictions for child abuse and child pornography, driving without a license and drunk driving, assault, burglary, and theft.

His first sexual assault conviction was when he was only 17 years old; he abused a 2-year-old child in his hometown. Since then, he has been in and out of jail multiple times for sex crimes against little girls.

Breuckner received a call near the McCann's apartment on the night of the disappearance.

Police say with certainty that was in the area on May 3, 2007, and they know he received a phone call at 7:32 pm, which lasted 30 minutes. Madeleine was taken by 10 pm that night.

Brueckner had been living in Portugal for quite sometime before the crime, though he traveled back to Germany occasionally.

Breuckner also changed the registration on his vehicle the day after McCann disappeared. He re-registered it in Germany under a different name on May 4.

Police say he wouldn't have had to be present in Germany to change his vehicle registration and they believe he did it from Portugal, possibly to throw off suspicion of having been in the area.

Breuckner allegedly confessed to abducting Madeleine McCann.

Allegedly, he confessed to abducting McCann in 2017. He was at a bar with a criminal associate and confessed to knowing what had happened to Madeleine.

The associate, who was later arrested in Greece, contacted Scotland Yard and told them of Breuckner's alleged confession to him. That report led to the current investigation.

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Portuguese police initially dismissed him as a suspect.

Despite a history of sex offenses against children that date back to the 1990s, Portuguese authorities didn't add him to the list of suspects in the crime at the time.

He left the region shortly after the crime and returned to Germany.

Brueckner is not cooperating with the police in the investigation. He remains in prison in Germany.

Kate and Gerry McCann have not spoken to the press but Clarence Mitchell, a spokesperson for the McCann family said after Breuckner's name was released to the public, "Kate and Gerry do feel it's potentially very significant. This is another important chapter in the search for their daughter."

Breuckner is also being investigated for the disappearance of other children.

Breuckner is reportedly under investigation for the disappearance of other children as well as in connection with two sex assaults and the rape of a holiday resort worker in Portugal.

A search on an abandoned factory and RV belonging to Breuckner in Germany led police to discover USBs containing evidence of child abuse, some of which were produced by Breuckner.

Police also discovered three children's bathing suits but German authorities have not stated whether or not they have identified where the suits came from.

What happened to Madeleine McCann?

McCann was only a few days shy of her fourth birthday when she vanished.

The British child had been on vacation in Portugal with her parents Kate and Gerry, 2-year-old twin siblings and a group of families the McCanns were close with on the night of May 3, 2007.

After putting the kids to bed, her parents and the other adults went to a late dinner at a restaurant nearby.

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The children were in the first-floor apartment, about 200 feet from where the parents were sitting. They took turns checking in during the course of dinner.

At 10 pm, McCann's mother went to look in on them and discovered her daughter was missing. She was never seen again.

Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, were blamed at first.

The circumstances of this case — with the parents admitting to leaving very young children alone in an apartment — made them easy targets for blame.

Portuguese authorities theorized that Madeleine McCann had died in some kind of accident and that parents had staged the disappearance to cover it up.

They were officially considered suspects until 2008, when the police had to close the case for lack of evidence.

In particular, Kate McCann's behavior was criticized for not being outwardly emotional enough.

The case was re-opened years later.

The McCanns hired private investigators to find their daughter in until 2011, but to no avail.

In 2011, Scotland Yard in Britain re-opened the case after the McCanns begged for a review of the investigation. The renewed investigation focused on abduction by a stranger, rather than looking at the parents this time.

The police looked into other related cases, such as burglaries and sexual assaults that happened in the area at the same time in the hopes of finding a suspect.

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.