Madeleine McCann: 5 Things To Know About The Prime Suspect
German police officials have declared Christian B. the main suspect in the 2007 disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann.
On May 3, 2007, Madeleine McCann, a 3-year-old British girl, vanished from a holiday resort in Portugal. Her disappearance is unsolved and her family is still seeking answers. Could a new suspect finally solve the mystery that has puzzled investigators for nearly 15 years? Here’s what we know about the German 43-year-old prime suspect, Christian Brueckner or ‘Christian B.’:
1) Shortly before Madeleine went missing, he alarmingly boasted that his camper van in Portugal was big enough to smuggle a child.
In early 2007, Christian allegedly told his roommate’s father that he could ‘transport children’ in his camper, and said that no one would be able to find them. The father requested to be referred to only as ‘Dieter F.’ At the time, Dieter lived about 40 miles from Praia da Luz, Portugal, the vacation destination where Madeleine disappeared from.
2) Brueckner lived just one mile from the crime scene in Portugal, and he fled to Germany immediately after Madeleine was reported missing.
His phone records placed him near the resort during the evening that Madeleine was last seen, the BBC reported. Just one day after the disappearance, he cancelled his car registration and returned to Germany, crime and intelligence analyst Mark Hofmann told CBS News. He also had a history of burglarizing hotels in Praia de Luz and Germany, Hofmann continued.
3) He is currently serving a prison sentence for raping a 72-year-old woman in Praia da Luz – the same vacation destination where Madeleine was abducted.
In November 2020, Christian was sentenced to seven years in prison for raping a 72-year-old American woman in her Portugal home. It wasn’t until last year, that he was identified as a suspect publicly. Hoffman said to CBS News that Brueckner commonly self-recorded his crimes because the 2005 rape conviction was partly based on material confiscated from his own video camera. The New York Times reported that he allegedly recorded himself tying the woman up, gagging her, raping her in her bedroom, and then proceeded to steal cash afterwards.
4) Christian B. is also a suspect in the murder of the missing German girl, Inga Gehricke.
The story of 5-year-old Inga is suspiciously similar to that of Madeleine’s. The young girl disappeared from a family barbecue in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany on May 2, 2015. Both girls were extremely alike in appearance and Inga was kidnapped only one day before the 8th anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance. Six years later, investigators are still searching for her.
5) According to German official records, he has many previous convictions, including child pornography, trafficking little girls, theft, forgery, drug crimes, firearms offenses, and rape.
He was convicted of sexually abusing a child in 1994 in Germany when he was still a teenager. Following the conviction, Christian moved to Portugal to avoid serving time in connection with the alleged crime, Hofmann said to CBS News. In 1999, Christian was extradited to Germany to face sentencing. "He absolutely matches the profile of a person who could potentially abduct and or kill a little girl like Madeleine McCann," Hofmann added.
For more on this case, stream the three-part docuseries Prime Suspect: The Madeleine McCann Case exclusively on discovery+.