A convicted paedophile and rapist named as a suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann allegedly told his former lover he ‘knows what happened to little Maddie’.

Christian Brueckner, 44, was officially designated as a suspect, or ‘arguido’ by Portuguese authorities on Friday, and was for the first time formally questioned about events on May 3, 2007, when the three-year-old British girl vanished from her bedroom at a resort on the Algarve as her parents ate tapas with friends at a nearby restaurant.

Brueckner, who is already behind bars in his native Germany for an array of grisly crimes, exercised his right to remain silent throughout the questioning, according to sources with knowledge of the prison interview.

But one of Brueckner’s former lovers, 34-year-old Anastasia Meckesy, today declared the sex offender had confessed to her in 2013 that he knew what happened to Maddie almost 15 years ago.

‘He said that he ”knows what happened to little Maddie from England”,’ Meckesy told The Sun on Sunday.

She added: ‘Christian is a human pig. That’s how you should see him today. Today I know what he’s accused of.’ 

Meanwhile, Maddie’s parents Gerry and Kate McCann said they welcomed the news that a German man has been declared ‘an arguido in relation to the disappearance of our beloved daughter, Madeleine.

‘This reflects progress in the investigation, being conducted by the Portuguese, German and British authorities. We are kept informed of developments by the Metropolitan Police,’ they added.

‘Even though the possibility may be slim, we have not given up hope that Madeleine is still alive and we will be reunited with her.’

Christian Brueckner, 44, was officially designated as a suspect, or ‘arguido’ by Portuguese authorities on Friday, and was for the first time formally questioned about events on May 3, 2007, when the three-year-old British girl vanished from her bedroom at a resort on the Algarve as her parents ate tapas with friends at a nearby restaurant 

Maddie's parents Gerry and Kate McCann said they welcomed the news that a German man has been declared 'an arguido in relation to the disappearance of our beloved daughter, Madeleine (The McCanns pose with an age-processed image of Maddie in 2012)

Maddie’s parents Gerry and Kate McCann said they welcomed the news that a German man has been declared ‘an arguido in relation to the disappearance of our beloved daughter, Madeleine (The McCanns pose with an age-processed image of Maddie in 2012)

On May 3 it will be the 15th anniversary of then three-year old Madeleine's disappearance from her holiday apartment in the Praia da Luz resort in the Algarve, Portugal

On May 3 it will be the 15th anniversary of then three-year old Madeleine’s disappearance from her holiday apartment in the Praia da Luz resort in the Algarve, Portugal 

Meckesy said she shared a sexual relationship with Brueckner which she initially enjoyed but later became controlling and violent.

She alleged Brueckner forced her to go to swingers clubs and dress up like a schoolgirl, and became aggressive when she complained.

Meckesy went on to say she got the impression Brueckner ‘hated women’, and alleged the convicted paedophile told her that Maddie ‘was ”probably handed over” to someone after being taken and, if she were still alive today, they would have found her by now’.

On May 3, 2007, Maddie was staying with her family at the Ocean Club resort in the Portuguese Algarve’s Praia da Luz, a few miles from a ramshackle property the German sex offender was renting at the time. 

Christian Brueckner was flagged as a key Madeleine McCann kidnap and murder suspect YEARS ago 

Christian Brueckner was flagged as a key Madeleine McCann kidnap and murder suspect years ago by police but the report was ignored by German authorities. 

According to German magazine Spiegel, police in Braunschweig sent a report about him being a prime suspect to the Federal Criminal Office (BKA) in 2013, two years before Inga Gehricke, ‘Germany‘s Maddie McCann’, disappeared. It was ignored.

Braunschweig police were monitoring the 43-year-old around the clock at the time. The report was triggered after an appeal from British police on a German unsolved crime show, on which the news about Brueckner was also broadcast this week.

Spiegel went on: ‘One person did submit a tip about Brueckner but the resulting report from police in Braunschweig to the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation was apparently not acted upon, much to the consternation of the local investigators.’

Brueckner was born to a woman named Fischer but given over to youth authorities at an early age. Between 1992 – when he was 16 – and 1994 he lived in a facility for young people with learning difficulties.

A neighbour told German newspaper BILD: ‘There were only bad young people there.’ 

He was involved in crime across Europe after that. 

The three-year-old vanished from her ground-floor bedroom, while her younger twin siblings Sean and Amelie slept close by.

Over the ensuing days and weeks, Portuguese detectives presided over a chaotic investigation marred by a series of blunders that placed them under intense pressure to crack the case.

Madeleine’s doctor parents, Kate and Gerry, were accused of neglect for having left their children unattended, checking on them every 20-30 minutes while they dined in the nearby tapas restaurant.

Brueckner first arrived on the Algarve in 1995, as an 18-year-old backpacker fresh out of prison, and worked in catering jobs in the seaside resorts of Lagos and Praia da Luz.

But he soon became involved in a criminal syndicate that trafficked drugs, and appears to have begun carrying out burglaries and other thefts in the tourist region.

Brueckner spent two months in Evora prison in 1999 for a minor offence, and nine months in 2006 after being caught stealing diesel from lorries on a garage forecourt.

In 2005 he carried out a depraved burglary during which he had bound, gagged, raped and tortured a 72-year-old American tourist in her villa in Praia da Luz. 

The victim was ‘grabbed by a very strong and tall man by the neck in the dark’ before being blindfolded and whipped with a metal cane. She said afterwards that he had clearly enjoyed ‘torturing’ her.

That crime went unsolved until 2019, when, following a tip-off from a former friend, Brueckner was arrested and charged.

Only then did police start investigating his potential links to 18 other burglaries of holiday apartments that had taken place on the Algarve in the early 2000s.

Several of these had involved the sexual assault of women and children, including nine cases of British girls aged six to 12. In most of the attacks, the ‘tall, wiry’ attacker seems to have carried out the sex crimes after stumbling upon his victims when he entered properties in search of valuables.

However, a new Channel 5 documentary is expected to say that despite his horrendous record, Brueckner has several alibis for his whereabouts on the night Maddie was snatched.

Four witnesses have shared their stories with Channel 5 for its upcoming documentary entitled ‘Madeleine McCann: Investigating The Prime Suspect’, which will air on May 3.

A Channel 5 insider told The Mirror: ‘Christian Brueckner has provided a very detailed alibi for the days leading up to and after Madeleine’s disappearance.

‘That has been checked out by our team and fully examined. We’ve spoken to four people who have gone on the record to independently, in different ways, support his alibi. They have got nothing to benefit from supporting him and, in fact, a couple of those people really don’t like him but they have still backed his account.’

Brueckner’s alleged link to the disappearance of Madeleine first became public in June 2020, when German prosecutors announced that they believed him ‘responsible’ for murdering her and said they had ‘concrete evidence’ the British child was dead.

On May 3, 2007 Kate and Gerry McCann went to a small tapas bar metres away from their apartment to dine with friends. But when Kate returned to do a routine check on their children, she found that Madeleine had disappeared

On May 3, 2007 Kate and Gerry McCann went to a small tapas bar metres away from their apartment to dine with friends. But when Kate returned to do a routine check on their children, she found that Madeleine had disappeared

The last photograph taken of Madeleine shows her smiling next to her little sister Amelie and their father Gerry at 1.30pm on May 3, 2007 in Portugal, the day she went missing

The last photograph taken of Madeleine shows her smiling next to her little sister Amelie and their father Gerry at 1.30pm on May 3, 2007 in Portugal, the day she went missing

A photo of Maddie picking up tennis balls released by her family

A computer generated image from 2012 shows how Maddie would have looked at the age of nine

Madeleine McCann would have turned 18 last year. In 2012, five years after her disappearance, her family issued an age progression e-fit photo to show what Madeleine may have looked like aged nine (right)

Parents Kate and Gerry McCann will welcome the latest development in their daughter's case, a source said

Parents Kate and Gerry McCann will welcome the latest development in their daughter’s case, a source said

In the aftermath, it emerged that police are investigating potential links to a string of other sex crimes, many involving children.

Late last year it was reported that Brueckner would be charged this year with three offences including the rape of an Irish woman in 2004 on the Algarve.

But suspicions that Brueckner was involved in Maddie’s disappearance mounted in 2016, when police were investigating the disappearance of a five-year-old girl — Inga Gehricke, known as the ‘German Maddie’ — who had vanished during a family outing while walking in woods near Braunschweig.

Officers were carrying out a search of land near the scene which had been bought by Brueckner six years earlier.

They found numerous items of children’s clothing, most of them ‘small swimsuits’, in a motorhome parked on the property.

They also discovered six memory sticks holding more than 8,000 files, mostly containing pictures and videos of child abuse.  

Shortly after Madeleine vanished in 2007, with the case increasingly the subject of frenzied media attention, Brueckner suddenly left Portugal. 

Local police failed to lock down the resort of Praia da Luz and set up road blocks, apparently assuming the little girl had merely wandered off, allowed him to leave without anyone noticing.

It was just one of the many blunders made by Portuguese detectives, who took 12 hours to alert Spanish border police about the missing child, and 48 hours to carry out a basic check of other guests staying at the resort.

Four days passed before they even issued a description of Madeleine.

Meanwhile, the McCanns’ apartment was not taped off until 10am the day after her disappearance, by which time dozens of people had traipsed through the crime scene and contaminated potentially vital evidence, with ash from policemen’s cigarettes later found to be one of the contaminants.

How the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann unfolded

2007

May 3: Gerry and Kate McCann leave their three children, including Maddie, asleep in their hotel apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal. When they return, they find Maddie missing from her bed

May 4: A friend of the McCanns reports of seeing a man carrying a child away in the night

May 14: Robert Mural, a property developer who lives a few yards from the hotel, is made a suspect by Portuguese police

May 30: The McCanns meet the Pope in Rome in a bid to bring worldwide attention to the search

August 11: Police in Portugal acknowledge for the first time in the investigation that Maddie might be dead

September 7: Spanish police make the McCanns official suspects in the disappearance. Two days later the family flies back to England

2008

July 21: Spanish police remove the McCanns and Mr Mural as official suspects as the case is shelved

2009

May 1: A computer-generated image of what Maddie could look like two years after she disappeared is released by the McCanns 

2011

May 12: A review into the disappearance is launched by Scotland Yard, following a plea from then-Home Secretary Theresa May 

2012

April 25: After a year of reviewing the case, Scotland Yard announce they belief that Maddie could be alive and call on police in Portugal to reopen the case, but it falls on deaf ears amid ‘a lack of new evidence’ 

2013

July 4: Scotland Yard opens new investigation and claim to have identified 38 ‘people of interest’

October 24: A review into the investigation is opened by Portuguese police and new lines of inquiry are discovered, forcing them to reopen the case

2014

January 29: British officers arrive in Portugal as a detailed investigation takes place. During the year, several locations are searched, including an area of scrubland near the resort 

2015

October 28: British police announce that team investigating Maddie’s disappearance is reduced from 29 officers to just four, as it is also revealed that the investigation has cost £10million  

2017

March 11: Cash is once again pumped into keeping the investigation alive, with £85,000 granted to keep it running until September, when it is extended once again until April next year

2018

March 27: The Home Office reveals it has allocated further funds to Operation Grange. The new fund is believed to be as large as £150,000  

2019  

April: Controversial new Netflix documentary re-examining Maddie’s kidnap is released

June 5: The Home Office gives the Metropolitan Police enough funding to investigate for another year

December 7: Paulo Pereira Cristovao, a long-time critic of Maddie’s parents, was convicted of participating in the planning of two violent break-ins at properties in Lisbon and the nearby resort of Cascais. He is jailed for seven and a half years

2020

February 22: Scotland Yard detectives questioned a British expat about her German ex-boyfriend. Carol Hickman, 59, claims police entered her bar in Praia da Luz to ask questions about her former partner 

June 3: Police reveal that a 43-year-old German prisoner has been identified as a suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.

2022

April 21: Christian Brueckner, now 44, is made an ‘arguido’, a formal suspect, by Portuguese authorities.

 



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