German prosecutors say they have ‘concrete evidence’ Madeleine McCann is dead, in a major blow for the hopes of the missing girl’s parents.
Authorities in Germany made the stunning revelation in early June that they were investigating a 43-year-old suspect over her disappearance, saying they believe he killed her.
‘It is concrete evidence, facts that we have, not mere indications,’ Brunswick prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters said, adding that he was unable to disclose exact information.
‘We have no forensic evidence of Madeleine’s death, such as a corpse,’ he added.
The revelation comes as it emerged German authorities asked Portuguese police for all the evidence they have on Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner so he can be tried in his homeland.
The material includes DNA taken from the Algarve holiday apartment Maddie vanished from, respected Portuguese daily Correio da Manha said.
But the newspaper claimed the possibility of a DNA match to convicted rapist Brueckner was remote as the DNA sample requested had little ‘identification value.’
The claim followed conflicting earlier reports saliva taken from Madeleine’s bedspread belonged to someone linked to her family and authorities had known for a ‘long time’ it was not the German 43-year-old’s.
Christian Brueckner, 43, is being investigated for a series of murders internationally
Claudia Ruf (left), from the western city of Grevenbroich, was kidnapped, raped and choked to death in 1996 in a case that shocked the country (left). Madeleine McCann (right) was three-years-old when she went missing whilst the McCanns were on holiday at Praia da Luz, Portugal in 2007
Portuguese police are now refusing to hand over a potentially crucial DNA sample in the Madeleine McCann case to German investigators as they dismiss the search for the missing toddler as a ‘waste of time’.
Detectives believe saliva left on the three-year-old’s pillow in Praia da Luz could provide vital evidence linking serial sex offender Christian Brueckner to the youngster’s disappearance in 2007.
But Portugal’s investigative Policia Judiciara [PJ] do not want to hand the sample over to a foreign police force, claiming it does not match Brueckner.
Brueckner has now also been named as a potential suspect in the kidnap, rape and murder of 11-year-old Claudia Ruf in 1996, a case which has sat cold for 24 years.
Ruf was kidnapped, raped and killed in her home town of Hemmerden in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia before her body was found on a dirt road some 70 kilometres (43 miles) away on a dirt road in the town of Euskirchen, near the city of Bonn.
Over 2,400 men have reportedly given saliva samples for testing but investigators have not yet found a match, police began the mass testing in November 2019.
Portuguese state prosecutors confirmed last week Portugal had received four requests for international judicial cooperation relating to the ongoing Madeleine McCann probe which mentioned Brueckner by name.
The date of the requests, and the country that made them, have not been made public.
Claudia Ruf was kidnapped, raped and killed in her home town of Hemmerden in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia before her body was found on a dirt road some 70 kilometres (43 miles) away on a dirt road in the town of Euskirchen, near the city of Bonn.
Correio da Manha described the current situation as ‘an impasse’.
Despite speculation Portuguese police are planning to start searches for Madeleine McCann’s body shortly, it reported today: ‘The Policia Judiciaria will only act on the ground again if the German authorities indicate specific places where Madeleine’s body could be hidden.
‘The searches could focus on wells and burrows but the PJ are waiting for the German investigation to reveal some new clue because the evidence available in Portugal is insufficient to conduct searches.’
It added: ‘The Germans want to try Christian Brueckner.
The Algarve holiday apartment Maddie McCann vanished from
‘They’ve already asked the Portuguese authorities for all their material and want to make use of German legislation which enables German nationals to be tried there for crimes they have allegedly committed in other countries.
‘For this reason the supposed DNA sample said to have been found in the apartment where the youngster disappeared has already been requested.
‘Correio da Manha has learnt that it will be difficult to obtain any identification benefit from it.
‘The German authorities have already interviewed witnesses and stored all the information they’ve received since the new appeal focused on the German suspect.
‘At this moment in time, the authorities have reached an impasse.’
German investigators want to retest the sample of saliva that was left on youngster’s pillow in her holiday apartment to see if it is a match to the 43-year-old drifter, who lived just outside the Algarve resort at the time.
The results of a new test could provide the break-through to one of Europe’s biggest unsolved criminal mysteries.
But Portuguese officials say that this saliva sample has already been examined at Institute Forsenic Medicine in Coimbra and that no DNA match to new suspect Brueckner was found.
A similar request by Scotland Yard was refused in 2014 when British detectives wanted to retest nearly 100 strands of hair strands that were discovered during the original investigation but never DNA-matched.
Girls’ swimming costumes and other children’s clothes were found in an old motorhome (pictured) owned by Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner, it emerged yesterday
Portuguese police remain bruised by criticism from German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters who said his Portuguese counterparts still believe Kate and Gerry McCann were responsible for their daughter’s disappearance, even though they were formally ruled out as suspects in 2008.
Officers do not believe that the German investigators have found any new evidence in the case because they have not asked for permission to carry out further searches in Portugal.
A source close to the PJ in Lisbon told MailOnline: ‘Investigators here think this is all a waste of time. They believe there is no point looking for Madeleine’s body.
‘Senior members of the PJ are very reticent about this new suspect Christian Brueckner.
‘They are also concerned about all this new information linking Brueckner to Madeleine McCann.’
Authorities in Germany have made a formal request Portugal’s ministry of justice for the all Madeleine case files because they want to hold any future criminal trial there. This includes a request to retest the saliva sample.
Prosecutors plan to use a law which enables a German citizen to be judged in Germany even if the crime is committed in another country.
Detectives are ready to fly to the Algarve to start searching for Madeleine’s body in wells and countryside close to where Brueckner lived.
Senior members of the PJ maintain that their officers gathered all of the evidence back in 2007 and that anything that the German investigators can add is only circumstantial.
The source revealed: ‘In the beginning PJ officers took 600 samples of evidence.
‘The Germans confirm that they have new evidence. But this is only circumstantial.’
A single-storey farmhouse the prime suspect rented is less than half an hour away from where three-year-old Madeleine disappeared in 2007 and has become a focus point
Another source close to the PJ investigators in Lisbon added: ‘Why have they not interviewed Brueckner yet?’
‘This is not a serious investigation. The Germans have not revealed their new evidence because they do not have any.’
The investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann was officially halted in 2008 and the Portuguese authorities have refused five requests to reopen the case.
A source close to the investigation explained: ‘The criminal investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann was shelved in 2008 because there was nothing more to do.
‘The lines of investigation were inconclusive. But if new evidence emerges the investigation can be reopened.’
Meanwhile a source close to Kate and Gerry McCann has urged German, Portuguese and British investigators to work closer together to solve the case, claiming their rivalry is misplaced.
He told MailOnline: ‘The competition between the different national police forces is totally counter-productive. This rivalry is misplaced national pride.
‘Kate and Gerry don’t want the police wasting time competing against either. They just want the police to solve the case.’
Germany’s Spiegel TV reported that during a six-day search of the site detectives found numerous items of children’s clothing, most of them ‘small swimsuits’ (pictured) in the motorhome
People who knew him described a ‘large cream-coloured Winnebago campervan,’ which he allegedly bragged could hide ‘drugs and children’
Overnight Brueckner denied abducting the British youngster from her parents’ holiday apartment on May 3 2007 for the first time.
His lawyer Friedrich Fulscher made the revelation after speaking to his client in jail where he is serving time for drugs offences and the 2005 rape of an American OAP in the same Praia da Luz resort where Madeleine vanished.
It also emerged children’s clothing including several girls’ swimsuits had been found in a 30ft Tiffin Allegro motor home Brueckner is said to have driven between Portugal and Germany.
Police investigating the disappearance of five-year-old Inga Gehricke – known as the ‘German Maddie’ – found the vehicle during a search of a disused box factory in Neuwegersleben, near Braunschweig [Brunswick] in northern Germany, in May 2016.
It was parked on land Brueckner bought six years earlier at auction. Brueckner, a convicted drug dealer and rapist, was under suspicion after Inga vanished from woods during a family outing.
Germany’s Spiegel TV reported that during a six-day search of the site detectives found numerous items of children’s clothing, most of them ‘small swimsuits’ in the motorhome. Brueckner does not have any children.
It was not one of the two vehicles – a two-time camper van and a Jaguar car – which British police flagged up in a new appeal a fortnight ago.
Brueckner’s lawyer Friedrich Fulscher (pictured) said his client – who is languishing in solitary confinement in a German prison – ‘denied any involvement’ in Madeleine’s case, The Mirror reports. Right: Brueckner
Six USB sticks with child abuse images were also reportedly found at the suspect’s derelict home in Germany, in a bag in a hole in the ground underneath the body of his dead dog.
German prosecutors say they have evidence Madeleine is dead and are conducting their case as a murder inquiry. British authorities say their Maddie probe is a missing persons’ inquiry.
A former ambulance driver identified only as Dieter F, whose daughter Nicole knew Brueckner when he lived in Portugal, claimed at the weekend the Madeleine McCann suspect had boasted to him in early 2007 he could transport ‘drugs and children’ in his 30ft-long American-style van.
He told the Mail on Sunday Bruecker said to him as he showed off the vehicle: ‘I can transport children, kids, in this space.
‘Drugs and children, you can transport them in this van, it’s a safe space in the van, nobody can find them. Nobody can catch you.’
Brueckner, who is being held at a prison in the city of Kiel in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, has applied for the rest of his prison sentence to be suspended so he can receive an early release – he is reportedly due for release in spring 2021.
Brueckner, 43, has recently been placed in solitary confinement for his own safety but he has now applied for probation after completing two-thirds of his sentence.
However, there is some confusion as to who needs to deal with the request, with the Kiel authorities saying the district court in Lower Saxony Braunschweig should make the decision.
Pictured: The 13-year-old Tristan Brubach, who was killed in 1998. The man suspected of having killed Madeleine McCann, Christian Brueckner, is now under investigation in the brutal murder of Burbach in Frankfurt
Left: Christian Brueckner, who is now the prime suspect in the Madeline McCann case, and is also a possible suspect in the murder of 13-year-old Burbach. Right: A phantom composite of the man suspected of killing Tristan Brubach
The district court in Kiel said that their counterparts had previously dealt with an application for early release from Brueckner when he was at the Wolfenbuttel prison and so they should deal with the latest request.
Prosecutor Stephanie Gropp told local newspaper Bild that Brueckner ‘is not eligible for early release’ from a probation standpoint and that prosecutors will seek to have the application rejected.
The suspect has been linked to a series of child abductions and murders in Portugal and Germany since he was named as the prime suspect in the Madeline McCann case.
After being sentenced for drug trafficking in 2011 he was handed a seven-year sentence for rape, including previous sentences, in December 2019 by the Braunschweig Regional Court.
However, this sentence has not yet come into play as Brueckner’s legal team have appealed it.
Local media recently reported that he is now under investigation for the rape and murder of a 13-year-old boy in Frankfurt whose testicles and buttocks were removed from his body.
He was named by the Frankfurter Neuer Presse as a potential suspect in the murder of Tristan Brubach in March 1998.
Mr Brubach’s body was found in an underpass known as the Liederbach near the Frankfurt-Hochst train station in the city of Frankfurt in the German state of Hesse.
He had been beaten unconscious, strangled, raped and tortured, according to reports.
The cause of death was a long cut to his throat and his body had been mutilated, with both testicles and the flesh from the buttocks and thighs having been removed.
The removed body parts were never recovered.
Chief Prosecutor Noah Kruger told German daily newspaper Bild: ‘We are checking whether there are any connections between the two cases. In itself, however, this is not unusual, but routine. The sequence of events and the e-fit from the Tristan case could be similar. ‘
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 is staying.
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.