Madeleine McCann’s disappearance garnered media attention from around the world in 2007. In May 2023, authorities announced that Portuguese police were searching a reservoir near where Madeleine was last seen. This anniversary of the crime has prompted people to revisit the story behind Madeleine’s disappearance.

What Happened to Madeleine McCann?

Madeleine, along with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, took a family trip to Portugal in May 2007. On May 3, Madeleine, who was only 3 years old at the time, vanished from her bed in the apartment where her family was staying in Praia da Luz, Portugal. Kate and Gerry had left Madeleine, along with her 2-year-old twin siblings, in the unlocked apartment while they visited a restaurant a mere 130 feet away. Gerry and Kate took turns checking on their children while they dined at the restaurant, but later that night they discovered Madeleine was missing from her bed and the window in her room was open.

Portuguese police initially named both Kate and Gerry as suspects in the little girl’s disappearance after forensics tests revealed traces of Madeleine’s blood had been discovered on a car the McCanns had rented 25 days after Madeleine went missing. Both Gerry and Kate were cleared in 2008.

A New Suspect in Madeleine McCann’s Case Was Named in 2020

In 2020, German authorities announced that they presumed Madeleine was dead. Shortly after, they named Christian Brueckner as a suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance. Brueckner was serving a ​7-year prison sentence for the rape of a 75-year-old woman and was appealing his sentence when authorities linked him to Madeleine’s case. Prosecutors announced they had evidence pointing to Brueckner as Madeleine’s killer, but it wasn’t enough to convict him.

“It is actually like this — we have a specific suspect, we know the name, we have a picture, we know where he is at the moment, namely in custody in Germany, and we actually have findings that suggest that he is Madeleine McCann’s murderer,” German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters told CNN at the time. “At the moment, there is insufficient evidence to convict.”

Brueckner denied having any involvement in the crime.

An Official Suspect ​in Madeleine McCann’s Case Was Named in 2022

In April 2022, Portugal officials announced that a man had been formally identified as a suspect in the case, according to Reuters. Authorities didn’t release the name of the suspect, but said that he had been named as a suspect by German authorities’ request. However, officials didn’t specify if the person named was Brueckner or someone else.

What Happened to Madeleine McCann? Updates on Disappearance
JULIAN STRATENSCHULTE/POOL/AFP / Getty Images

Officials Search a Nearby Reservoir ​for Madeleine McCann in May 2023

In May 2023, ​16 years after Madeleine’s disappearance, Portuguese police, with the help of British and German authorities, conducted a three-day search of a reservoir near where the little girl went missing.

“A number of objects were secured during the operation,” the Brunswick prosecutor’s office said, per CBS News in May 2023. “These will be evaluated in the coming days and weeks. It is not yet possible to say whether any of the objects are indeed related to the Madeleine McCann case.”

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