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The German man who has become the key suspect in the 2007 disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann in Portugal was known for robbing hotels and holiday apartments, according to new reports.
Christian Brückner, a convicted child sex offender, was identified by officials in 2020 as a suspect in the case of the missing girl, who vanished at 3-years-old while on vacation with her parents. Prosecutors, who consider him one of the most credible suspects behind McCann’s kidnapping, reiterated in February that they have compelling proof that Brückner murdered the child.
“We have strong evidence that Christian B. killed Maddie McCann," German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters told CBS’ “48 Hours” in a recently aired segment.
German prosecutors recently confirmed that cell phone data put Brückner in the vicinity of McCann’s family’s resort room within the timeframe that she vanished. It’s unknown, however, if Brückner himself was using the phone in question.
"The phone number placed Christian to the Ocean Club, but we have to find out which person uses this phone at this time,” Wolters added. “Normally it was used by Christian B. But we don't know which person used it on the 3rd of May in 2007."
Brückner, while intoxicated, supposedly once confided in a friend he had information related to McCann’s disappearance, the CBS investigation revealed. He hasn’t yet been officially charged in McCann’s disappearance or death, and the McCanns haven't publicly spoken out about Brückner’s suspected involvement.
“In Germany, we…charge someone only if we are sure that he will be sentenced by the court,” Wolters said. “If there are doubts…we don't charge him.”
He expressed hope more witnesses will one-day come forward.
“We think that there are people who can help us and we hope that these people will contact us or the police,” Wolters said.
In 2013, Brückner was accused of using a chatroom for pedophiles on Skype, prosecutors said.
Officials previously referred to him as a "sexual predator.” The 43-year-old, who previously lived in Portugal, is allegedly linked to a number of other missing person cases. He also had a reputation for “burglary in hotel resorts,” and “holiday apartments” some experts familiar with the case said.
“He was known for burglary in hotel resorts and Maddie disappeared from around a hotel resort,” Mark Hofmann, a legal analyst, told CBS. “So, it's possible…that this crime maybe started as a hotel burglary and it ended as the potential kidnapping and/or killing of Maddie McCann."
One year before McCann went missing, Brückner was arrested on suspicion of theft in Portugal.
"He moved from job to job,” Hofmann added. “He moved from crime to crime.”
German police previously uncovered a secret cellar beneath Brückner’s home, according to The Guardian. Authorities allegedly seized a number of items, including a child’s toy bucket, from the man’s basement. The search, officials, confirmed, was linked to McCann’s disappearance.
McCann vanished on May 3, 2007, while her family was vacationing in southern Portugal. Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, were cleared as persons of interest in the case by Portugal authorities the following year, according to the New York Times.
"We will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive but whatever the outcome may be, we need to know as we need to find peace," their website states.
There have been approximately 8,500 reported sightings of McCann throughout the years. Officials, however, now suspect she was killed “relatively quickly” following her abduction.
"We are assuming that the girl is dead,” Wolters previously said in June 2020, according to the BBC.
Brückner is currently serving time in a German prison on child sex crime charges. He has previously denied any involvement in the toddler’s disappearance.
"Mr. B is remaining silent on the allegation at this time on the advice of his defense counsel,” his lawyer Friedrich Fulscher also said last year. “This is quite common in criminal proceedings. It is the duty of the state to prove that a suspect committed a crime. No accused person has to prove his innocence to the investigating authorities.”
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