German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters told British outlet The Times that McCann — who vanished on May 3, 2007 while on vacation with her family in Portugal’s Praia da Luz — was probably murdered shortly after she was kidnapped. He previously said he has “some evidence” that the child is dead but needs more information before he can locate her body.
“My private opinion is that he relatively quickly killed the girl, possibly abused her and then killed her,” he said of the suspect, who was previously identified in German media simply as 43-year-old sex offender Christian B. because of privacy laws. He has now been identified as Christian Brückner.
Brückner was first convicted of sexual abuse of a child in Germany in 1994, when he was a teenager. He has since been convicted of multiple sex crimes against other young girls, Wolters told the press earlier this month.
Last week, Wolters announced that investigators were looking into whether the suspect had any involvement in the unsolved 2015 disappearance of a 5-year-old German girl named Inga Gehricke. The missing girl has sometimes been referred to as “the German Maddie” in local media, The Guardian reported.
Now, it’s been reported that Brückner is being looked at in regards to two more cases of missing children: René Hasee, 6, who vanished in 1996 in Portugal and German teen Carola Titze, 16, who went missing while on vacation in Belgium in 1996, according to The Times.
Wolters told The Times that while investigating the Gehricke case, investigators uncovered a disturbing conversation that Brückner allegedly had with another pedophile online. He allegedly told that person that he wanted to “catch something little and use it for days” adding, “Then I’ll record maaaany videos/clips. I’ll document in detail how she’s being tortured.”
Brückner allegedly also bragged about being able to discard evidence.
Brückner lived in and around the Praia da Luz resort area from 1995 to 2007. While there, he raped a 72-year-old American woman in 2005. He was convicted of that rape of last year, the New York Times reported, He is currently appealing that conviction.
Wolters admitted earlier this week that he doesn’t have enough evidence to indict Brückner in the McCann case. He has urged any tourists who may have been in Praia da Luz between 1995 and 2007 to contact authorities.
"We think our suspect has done more crimes possibly against British, Irish or American people,” Wolters told Sky News. “All these people are asked to call us so we can solve these cases."
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.