The new suspect in the 2007 disappearance of 3-year-old Madeleine McCann in Portugal has been identified as Christian B., a 43-year-old German national and child sex offender currently serving time in prison for rape. McCann family spokesperson Clarence Mitchell said that in 13 years, he couldn't "recall an instance when the police had been so specific about an individual." He added that Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, see the development as "potentially very significant," per the BBC. More on the suspect—and other persons still to be found:
- Christian B. has been named by three police agencies—in Portugal, Germany, and the family's native UK. However, German police say "there is reason to assume that there are other persons … who have concrete knowledge of the course of the crime and maybe also of the place where the body was left."
- German prosecutors are investigating Christian B. on suspicion of murder, per the Guardian. But the Met Police still consider it a missing persons case as there is no "definitive evidence" showing whether Madeleine is alive or dead. She disappeared while vacationing with her family at a resort in Praia da Luz in the Algarve region on May 3, 2007.
- Christian B.—described as white, 6 feet tall, with short blond hair and a slim build—was convicted in Germany in 2019 of raping a senior citizen in Portugal, per the Local. He also has numerous prior convictions for sexual abuse of children and at least one for drug trafficking.
- The Guardian also mentions "break-ins at hotels and holiday homes," while the Telegraph notes blond-haired men were seen loitering near the family's apartment several times on the day Madeline disappeared.
- The suspect stayed in the Algarve region between 1995 and 2007. Police say he lived a "transient lifestyle," staying for "days upon end" in his Volkswagen T3 Westfalia camper van. He also owned a Jaguar XJR 6 that was re-registered under the name of a person in Germany on the day after Madeleine's disappearance. Police believe the car remained in Portugal, per the Guardian.
- At 7:32pm on May 3, Christian B. received a phone call that lasted 30 minutes, and the Telegraph reports police made a "really unusual" move: They released two phone numbers, one (+351 912 730 680) thought to be used by Christian B. and the other (+351 916 510 683) by the person who phoned him. Met police say the person he spoke to is a "key witness" who should come forward, and they are asking people to check their phone contact lists for the numbers. Madeleine disappeared from an apartment between 9:10pm and 10pm while she slept along with two younger siblings. Her parents were at a nearby restaurant.
- Jim Gamble, who served as senior child protection officer in the UK's first police investigation into the disappearance, says it's the first time since 2007 that "I actually dare to hope," per the BBC. But the outlet notes "there have been so many false trails in the case before—clues, sightings and suspects that led nowhere."
- German police were first told about Christian B. in 2013 but didn't have enough info to investigate. New information surfaced in 2017, and he is now "the main focus of our investigation, which is why we are making this appeal, to help us with that investigation, to prove or disprove his involvement," Met deputy assistant commissioner Stuart Cundy tells the Guardian.
- Madeleine's parents, of Rothley, Leicestershire, said they welcomed the move. "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," reads a statement.
- UK, German and Portuguese police are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person responsible.
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