What happened to Madeleine McCann? A chronology of the case

On the 15th anniversary of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance, her parents have said that “a truly horrible crime has been committed”.

Kate and Gerry McCann wrote that this year “feels no harder than any other, but it doesn’t feel any lighter either.”

Her daughter went missing on May 3, 2007 while on a family vacation in Praia da Luz, Portugal. In a Facebook post uploaded last night, the couple included a quote from Winnie the Pooh author AA Milne, which read, “But the important thing is, even though we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.”

This is how the case has developed over the last 15 years.

May 3, 2007

Gerry and Kate McCann, doctors from Leicestershire, were holidaying in Praia da Luz, Portugal with their three children – Madeleine, almost four, and twins Sean and Amelie, two.

At 8:30 p.m., the McCanns left their sleeping children at their vacation rental to meet up with friends for dinner at a tapas bar at the Ocean Club Resort, where they were all staying. When Kate returned to the apartment around 10pm to check on the children, she found Madeleine’s bed empty and the child gone.

May 14, 2007

British expat Robert Murat, who lived next door to the resort where Madeleine went missing, was dubbed “Arguido” in the case after an anonymous tip. The Portuguese legal term, often translated as “suspicious”, is more like a person questioned with caution.

Although the IT consultant became the subject of glaring tabloid speculation, he was never arrested in connection with Madeleine’s disappearance.

September 7, 2007

After further questioning of Madeleine’s parents, detectives also nicknamed her “Arguidos,” sparking widespread media speculation that the McCanns were complicit in their daughter’s disappearance.

July 21, 2008

After declaring that all existing investigative avenues had been exhausted, the Portuguese Attorney General shelved the McCann case and revoked the “arguido” status of the McCanns and Murat. After clarification, all three won several hundred thousand pounds in damages for defamation by British newspapers.

July 5, 2010

The McCanns met with then Home Secretary Theresa May shortly after the third anniversary of their daughter’s disappearance to discuss the search for Madeleine.

May 12, 2011

Following a May inquiry, Scotland Yard launched its own investigation into the case, known as Operation Grange.

April 25, 2012

British detectives said they had reason to believe Madeleine might still be alive and released a computer-generated image showing what she might look like when she was nine. However, the Portuguese police refused to reopen the case due to insufficient evidence.

July 4, 2014

Two years after its review, the Met confirmed it had uncovered “really new” lines of inquiry and 38 people of interest.

October 24, 2014

Portuguese police have reopened the case after their own review uncovered new leads.

April 28, 2015

Goncalo Amaral, who led the investigation in 2007, was found guilty of defamation of the McCanns in his 2008 book. The truth of the lieand was sentenced to pay €500,000.

October 28, 2015

After 560 lines of investigation, Operation Grange was reduced from 29 full-time detectives to four. “By 2015 they had made 1,338 statements, collected 1,027 exhibits and investigated 60 persons of interest and 650 sex offenders.” The sun reported.

December 4, 2016

The Home Office agreed to extend Operation Grange funding until April 2017 while detectives re-examined an earlier theory that Madeleine may have been kidnapped by a European trafficking gang. The funds were then renewed every six months.

February 2017

Portugal Supreme Court justices ruled in favor of a lower court decision overturning the McCanns’ 2015 libel victory against Amaral.

March 27, 2018

Investigative police confirmed they had received further funding from the Home Office, bringing the total to over £11million.

March 15, 2019

Netflix has released a new documentary series, The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, reigniting speculation about her whereabouts. The eight-part series was widely criticized, with The Telegraph To say it “confirms that the true crime genre has become a prisoner of its most crass tendencies”.

June 5, 2019

The UK government said it would continue to fund the police investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance until March 2020.

June 3, 2020

German investigators said a 43-year-old German man, who was in prison for raping a 72-year-old woman in 2005 in the same town where Madeleine disappeared, is a new suspect in the case. The man was described as white with short blonde hair, around 6ft tall and of slim build at the time. British media named him as Christian Brueckner.

Police also released photos of two vehicles – a VW camper van and a Jaguar car – believed to be linked to the man, and a house in Portugal.

December 3, 2020

Prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters admitted BBC that his team did not have enough evidence to charge Brückner, who is only referred to as Christian B in Germany for legal reasons.

June 15, 2021

A letter was published in the German tabloid picture in which Brückner claimed that German prosecutors were waging “a public campaign of prejudice” against him and called for her resignation.

Brückner said “charging a guilty party is one thing,” but “it’s quite another thing, actually an unbelievable scandal, when a prosecutor launches a public prejudice campaign before the main trial begins.”

The letter that was written in what The times as “a childlike, scrupulously clean writing”, also contained a “comic drawing of two German prosecutors – possibly intended as Wolters and Lindemann – in a pizzeria”.

The male character looks at the menu and says, “I’ll take the forensic fillet,” to which the female character replies, “Yummy! I also!”

April 22, 2022

Brückner was appointed arguido by the Portuguese police in the McCann case, although his lawyer stated that he had not been charged in the case.

May 2, 2022

Exclusively for Sky news, Martin Brunt reported that Brückner claimed he had an alibi for the date of Madeleine’s disappearance. “Christian B says he had sex with a woman in his RV at the time,” Brunt said. He said he drove the woman to Faro airport for a flight home the next day and was stopped at a police roadblock and photographed. German police, during their investigation into the 2005 rape for which he is behind bars, apparently “found a photo of the woman lying in his mobile home,” Brunt said.

He added: “If true, the alibi would contradict important but circumstantial evidence from cellphone towers, which police say put him near the apartment Madeleine disappeared from,” German prosecutors said that Brückner had not yet offered them an alibi.

May 3, 2022

Fifteen years after Madeleine’s disappearance, the daily mirror reported Brückner was denied parole after serving half of his sentence for rape. Although he was eligible for parole, “it was assumed that the panel assessed him as having a high risk of recidivism,” the newspaper said. “They concluded that his ‘social prognosis’ meant he had to remain behind bars in the northern German city of Kiel.” What happened to Madeleine McCann? A chronology of the case

Fry Electronics Team

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