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CNN Special Reports

A Vacation That Went Wrong; McCann Family Looked For Madeleine Worldwide; Portugal Police Not Keen On Protocols; McCann Couple From Victims To Suspects; High-Profile People Involved In Search For Madeleine; Madeleine's Kidnapper Found. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 03, 2022 - 22:00   ET




UNKNOWN: The following is a CNN special report.

GERRY MCCANN, MADELEINE MCCANN'S FATHER: One more, big smile. That's pretty.

RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: The face of little Madeleine McCann captured the world's attention. Five days into their tranquil getaway, tragedy struck.

UNKNOWN: The search is under way for 3-year-old British girl.

KAYE: All eyes turned to this sleepy seaside village for answers.

G. MCCANN: Please, if you have Madeleine, let her come home.

KAYE: The high-profile worldwide search.

UNKNOWN: Don't know where she couldn't be. She's still alive.

KAYE: The shocking twists. Police are focusing their attention on two suspects, Madeleine's mom and dad. The theories.

UNKNOWN: Somebody knows what's happened.

KAYE: More than a dozen years after her disappearance, an investigation spans across Europe and leads to a major break in the case. The first since the McCanns were cleared. International authorities focusing on one man.

UNKNOWN: A new twist. A German prosecutor says he is now sure that he knows who killed Madeleine McCann.

UNKNOWN: Portuguese authorities have said they have now named a suspect.

UNKNOWN: So, to be clear, the formal suspect in Madeleine McCann's case is a convicted rapist and a known pedophile.

KAYE: A CNN special report, missing: Madeleine McCann. UNKNOWN: Praia da Luz is one of the villages in Portugal that had

long been just a little fishing village.

UNKNOWN: It attracts a lot of ex patriot tourists, particularly from Germany, Holland, the U.K.

UNKNOWN: It's an easy, safe, relaxed place. Quite a small community. A few restaurants, a beautiful beach. It's just got everything that a family would want.

KAYE: In late April 2007, along with three other families, Kate and Gerry McCann, their 2-year-old twins Sean and Amelie, and nearly 4- year-old daughter Madeleine traveled on spring holiday to picturesque Praia da Luz, Portugal. Each family had rented an apartment at the Ocean Club, a small resort in the heart of the village.

UNKNOWN: It's pretty open. You've got a pool. You've got the restaurant where they all went.

KAYE: With nine adults and a combined eight children, the McCanns' party was hard to miss. All four of their rented apartments were clustered together in block 5. And this was their apartment on the corner here?


KAYE: Julian Peribanez is a private investigator. He says the location of the McCanns' flat put the family at risk. What made this apartment, 5A more vulnerable than some of the others in the complex?

PERIBANEZ: It makes it more vulnerable because it's in the corner, and there is a lot of places that you can be watching the apartment without being noticed.

KAYE: But from the McCanns' view, the location of apartment 5A had all the makings of a perfect family retreat.

PERIBANEZ: The first stage of their vacation went exceptionally well. Probably just exactly as they had hoped. They're both quite sporty. They enjoyed running. They enjoyed tennis. And the resort offered them all of those option.

KAYE: It offered plenty of options for the children as well. Madeleine McCann spent most of her days with the kid's club under the supervision of resort personnel. However, at night, the McCanns opted out of the club's child care.

ROBBYN SWAN, CO-AUTHOR, LOOKING FOR MADELEINE: The McCanns made the decision amongst themselves that that might be disruptive to their children's sleep patterns. So, they just thought we can do this ourselves.

KAYE: At 8.30 every night, after putting the kids to bed, the McCanns joined their friends for dinner at the onsite Tapas restaurant, while the children were all left alone, sleeping in their respective apartments. CLARENCE MITCHELL, MCCANN FAMILY SPOKESPERSON: So, they decided to

mount a half-hour checking system of all of the children. So, one member of the group would get up and go and check and check on all their children, come back. Another one would go every half an hour.

KATE MCCANN, MADELEINE MCCANN'S MOTHER: And all I can say is it just felt so safe, you know. It's a family, family resort.

GERRY MCCANN, MADELEINE MCCANN'S FATHER: For me, if your children are sleep upstairs in the bedroom and you're dining in the garden, you're outside and you can't hear them. And that's the similar thing to me.


PERIBANEZ: We measured it. Where they were sitting having dinner was about 60 yards as the crow flies from apartment 5A on the corner there.

KAYE: Could they see the apartment from there?

PERIBANEZ: They could see it, but they couldn't see the windows, because there are a lot of bushes and everything.

MITCHELL: It was across the pool in some bushes, but you could see the doors.

KAYE: Sliding glass doors the McCanns had left unlocked.

MITCHELL: They left them unlocked because they wanted to access for the checking, and they were going in every half an hour. It's a judgment call.

KAYE: A judgment call that would haunt the McCanns forever.

K. MCCANN: All I can say is if I'd have thought there was any risk at all, you know, it just wouldn't have happened. There is no one more than else I'd want to change what we did that night, obviously.

PAUL LUCKMAN, PUBLISHER, PORTUGAL NEWS: It is that environment where you feel so safe so, secure, so at ease. Was it right? Well, we know the answer to that now, don't we?

ANTHONY SUMMERS, CO-AUTHOR, LOOKING FOR MADELEINE: May 3, the Thursday, began as what appeared to be a typical vacation day.

KAYE: Kate and Gerry McCann got to spend some time together, playing tennis, lounging at the pool. In the evening, when Gerry McCann went to take a tennis lesson, Kate picked up the children at the kid's club and brought them back to the apartment to get them ready for bed.

SWAN: They sat on the patio, had their first glass of wine for the night, and got ready, and went down to the Tapas restaurant for half past eight. Kate told one of her friends about the troubling incident with Madeleine during the morning.

KAYE: That morning at breakfast, Madeleine had asked her parents a startling question.

SUMMERS: She said, mommy, when Sean -- that's her little brother -- and I cried last night, why didn't you come? Did that mean they were upset by something the previous night?

MITCHELL: They wondered if they should go out again that evening. But Madeleine seemed entirely at ease. They certainly had no intimation or reason to think that it could be anything more sinister.

SWAN: They then carried on with the evening and began the process of the regular checks on the children that they'd been doing all week.

KAYE: According to the timeline provided by the group at dinner that night, Gerry McCann conducted a check at roughly 9.05 p.m.

G. MCCANN: So I actually came in and Madeleine was just at the top of the bed, (Inaudible) had left lying and the covers were folded down. And she had a cuddle cat blankie just by her head. It's terrible because I am -- I had one of those really proud father moments where I just thought she -- you're absolutely beautiful and I love you.

SWAN: Then about 9.30, 9.25, Matthew Oldfield was going upstairs. He said to Kate, I'll take it. I'll go and check on your three. He went into the McCanns' apartment. He went to the door of the children's bedroom, but he did not go in.

MITCHELL: He looked in. He saw the twins who were in cots through the door, but he didn't put his head around to the left where he would have seen if Madeleine was there or not. I'm sure it's something he regrets massively.

KAYE: Less than 30 minutes later, it was Kate McCann's turn.

K. MCCANN: I went back to do a check at 10 o'clock. And I went through the patio doors at the back. I just noticed that the door to the children's bedroom was quite far open. And just as I was about to close it, it kind of slammed. Like a gust of wind had shut it.

MITCHELL: Her heart sank then at that point, because it was all wrong. Everything was wrong.

K. MCCANN: And then I went back just to open the door again a little bit. Just as I did that, I noticed that the shutter was open. The window was open.

KAYE: And then she saw that Madeleine's bed was empty.

UNKNOWN: And what did you think in that moment?

K. MCCANN: I thought someone's taken her.

G. MCCANN: Please, if you have Madeleine, let her come home to her mommy, daddy, brother and sister.

KAYE: The search for Madeleine begins, next.



G. MCCANN: Okay, spin around, darling.


G. MCCANN: Right, right. Yes. I can see your wings.

K. MCCANN: Give us a big smile.

G. MCCANN: Yes, one more, big smile.

KAYE: Madeleine Beth McCann.

UNKNOWN: We can get a doggy named Thomas.

KAYE: Born on May 12th, 2003 to parents who adored her.

G. MCCANN: Madeleine, I know she was our first. She absolutely incredible, a real character.

Who says, say, yes, daddy.

M. MCCANN: Yes, daddy.

G. MCCANN: She's brought incredible joy into our family.

KAYE: A family Gerry and Kate McCann desperately wanted. They met in medical school in the 1990s.

MITCHELL: He was a cardiac specialist, and Kate a family doctor.

KAYE: The McCanns married in December 1998, but struggled to conceive.

The McCanns tried very, very hard to have a child. What did they go through?

MITCHELL: They needed to go through IVF. They had a few problems before Madeleine arrived, which made her all the more special in their eyes.

KAYE: I mean, this is a child they really wanted?

MITCHELL: Absolutely.

KAYE: Less than two years after Madeleine, twin siblings Sean and Amelie were born.

M. MCCANN: Together like one, two, three

K. MCCANN: I just can't believe after five years of desperately trying to have children, to suddenly have three, it was great. It was just lovely. We were just so happy.


KAYE: A happy, busy life for the McCann family of five, who packed up for a relaxing vacation in the spring of 2007.

G. MCCANN: Oops, are you all right?

K. MCCANN: It was the first time I'd ever been to Portugal, but all the family and friends that had been there said, you know, it's a lovely country and it's really safe and it's for families.

KAYE: What started as an idyllic family holiday turned into a nightmare on May 3rd, 2007 when Madeleine vanished from the apartment just days before her fourth birthday. May 3rd, 2007. At 10 p.m. that night, the desperate search began.

G. MCCANN: Every minute felt like an hour, and every hour felt like a day. You know from other cases the police say the first 24 hours that got to go in, you just -- you just imagine the worst.


KAYE: Ernie Allen counseled the McCanns early on.

ALLEN: The greatest likelihood of recovering a child safely occurs in those early minutes, those early hours, the early days.

KAYE: But even the Portuguese police acknowledge those early hours of the investigation were full of blunders.

ALLEN: There were lots of mistakes made. The crime scene was not secured. I think there was physical evidence there that would have been recovered if they had applied rule one of the police investigative rule book, which is you secure the crime scene.

KAYE: According to investigators, up to 20 people traipsed in and out of the crime scene that night.

SWAN: Windows were closed. Doors were open and shut. They were searching for a child. They weren't worrying about preserving evidence.

KAYE: And there were other missteps, like collecting fingerprints without wearing gloves.

ALLEN: The roadblocks weren't set up for 12 hours. The Spanish border is an hour and a half away.

SWAN: Holiday makers were allowed to return to their own homes in Holland and Germany in the U.K. without ever having been interviewed. Part of the problem in those early hours, authorities didn't yet realize that what happened was a crime.

LUCKMAN: When I got there in the morning, we were all convinced the little girl had walked away. She'd be found a couple of hours later. KAYE: Paul Luckman was one of the first journalists to arrive on the

scene. So, in the early days were authorities actually looking for a kidnapper?

LUCKMAN: No. No. I don't think it occurred to anybody.

KAYE: But it had occurred to the McCanns.

K. MCCANN: I knew my child had been taken. It was quite hard to get somebody else to believe us.

SWAN: On the very night Madeleine disappeared, Kate and Gerry McCann and their friends started trying to reach out to the press. They are well-educated, middle-class people with lots of friends and contacts.

KAYE: Just hours after Madeleine's disappearance, her image was broadcast and e-mailed around the world.

MITCHELL: She was arguably the first missing child case of the internet era within minutes of her going missing, relatives were able to send high quality definition video of her, posting them on web sites, Facebook pages, and sending them to news desks.

UNKNOWN: We're just hearing a search is under way for 3-year-old British girl. She went missing last night. Hundreds of people have been searching.

SWAN: By the next morning, the news carried the first reports from Praia da Luz of a little girl having disappeared.

UNKNOWN: We begin with the case of Madeleine McCann.

UNKNOWN: She has gone missing in the Algarve area of Portugal.

KAYE: Within 24 hours, the tiny village was swarming with media, and the McCanns gave their first press conference.

G. MCCANN: Please, if you have Madeleine, let her come home to her mommy, daddy, brother and sister.

KAYE: Four days after Madeleine vanished, Kate made another appeal.

K. MCCANN: We beg you to let Madeleine come home. We need our Madeleine.

KAYE: But did it help or hurt?

PERIBANEZ: Kate and Gerry, they were very serious. They didn't cry when they were in the press. And that's something that we didn't understand too much here in the south of Europe. People are very sentimental and usually mothers cry. And that made people suspicious.

KAYE: Early on, one of the major criticisms of the McCanns was that they were very stoic. Even -- even cold.

[22:19:52] MITCHELL: They were told very early on that whoever has committed this awful crime often watches parental appeals and can get a sexual thrill out of seeing the distress that they've caused the victims or their family. Kate and Gerry were told if you can avoid showing overt emotion, it's better to do that.

PERIBANEZ Please give our little girl back.


KAYE: When we return, the focus turns to Kate and Gerry.


PEDRO DO CARMO, DEPUTY NATIONAL DIRECTOR, POLICIA JUDICIARIA: In the first weeks, there were thousands or hundreds of people involved all over the country to rescue Madeleine McCann.

KAYE: Eleven days after the disappearance, a potential break in the case. Portuguese police, also known as the P.J., named the first arguido, loose translation, formal suspect. Who was Robert Murat?

SWAN: Robert Murat is a British- Portuguese resident of Praia da Luz who lived in 2007 in the home owned by his mother only some 100 yards or so from apartment 5A.


UNKNOWN: She went missing last night.

KAYE: After Madeleine's disappearance from Luz made the morning use, Robert Murat walked out to his yard.

ROBERT MURAT, PRAIA DA LUZ RESIDENT: That's when I met an English guy that had known the family and I mentioned to him that he is being Portuguese, so I asked if he mind lending a hand. I have a daughter the same age, and if it happened to me, I would want and expect everybody to help me.

SWAN: One of the British newspaper reporters who was there became suspicious of Robert Murat's behavior and called the P.J. and alerted them.

KAYE: Those suspicions snowballed after three of the McCanns' friends reported seeing Murat near 5A the night of the disappearance. Murat denied being there after ark. The P.J. searched his home, and Murat spent more than 19 hours being questioned by police. But the media scrutiny was far worse.

UNKNOWN: Any comment at all, sir?

KAYE: Meanwhile, Gerry and Kate McCann took the hunt beyond borders.

G. MCCANN: We want to do everything in our power to help the search for Madeleine. KAYE: Spain, Morocco, the Netherlands, and Germany, and even an

audience with the pope, all aimed at one goal, keeping Madeleine's face in the news.

DAVID BECKHAM, ACTOR: If you have seen this little girl, please, could you go to your local authorities or police.

ALLEN: Using media dramatically increased the likelihood that somebody would come forward with information that could lead to her safe recovery.

KAYE: Reported sightings of Madeleine poured in from around the world. But one theory gained traction, that Gerry and Kate McCann were responsible for what happened to their daughter.

UNKNOWN: How do you deal with the fact that more and more people seemed to be pointing the finger at you?

KAYE: In July 2007, British sniffer dogs trained to detect the scent of blood and cadavers were sent here to Portugal to help with the investigation. What they found led to a major shift in the case. The dogs alerted to tiny specks of blood in apartment 5A.

UNKNOWN: She will find anybody's blood, any human blood.

KAYE: According to its handler, one dog reacted to potential blood or human remains in the trunk of the McCanns' rental car. Even though they didn't rent the car until three weeks after Madeleine went missing.

SUMMERS: Whether rightly or wrongly, the Portuguese concluded at that time that Madeleine McCann had died in the apartment, and that the parents had sought to cover it up and remove the body, remove the evidence.

KAYE: False media reports circulated that DNA found in the rental car matched Madeleine's. It would take almost a year for the correct DNA results to be released. In the meantime, the damage was done.

Tonight, a major break. Police are focusing their attention on two suspects, Madeleine's mom and dad.

Four months after Madeleine's disappearance, her parents were named formal suspects. They were shocked.

K. MCCANN: Disbelief first of all, and then it was just almost devastation. It was devastation that suddenly if they were looking at us, who was looking for Madeleine. And I thought there is no one looking for my little girl.

KAYE: Two days after being named suspects, the McCanns returned to England, clutching their twins, but without Madeleine.

G. MCCANN: We have played no part in the disappearance of our lovely daughter Madeleine. KAYE: Fourteen months passed since Madeleine's disappearance with no

progress and no charges filed. In July 2008, stunning news. The Portuguese attorney general was closing the case.

FERNANDO PINTO MONTEIRO, FORMER PORTUGUESE ATTORNEY GENERAL (through translator): At a certain point, I realized that there were no reliable clues that were any more solid than others. It reminded me of a cat trying to catch its own tail. We were running around in circles without any success.

KAYE: His decision cleared all suspects, including Robert Murat.

PERIBANEZ: I think he was more of a victim.

KAYE: A victim?

PERIBANEZ: Yes, they needed someone to blame.

This left me completely destroyed. Not only myself, my family.

MURAT: It's left me completely destroyed, not only myself, my family.

K. MCCANN: It's hard to describe how utterly despairing it was to be named arguido and subsequently portrayed in the media as suspects in our daughter's own abduction.

KAYE: But the McCann's warned on fighting.


K. MCCANN: I look forward to scrutinizing the police files and see what actually is being done.

KAYE: Coming up, the McCanns going alone.


M. MCCANN: These are my shoes.

G. MCCANN: Are they new?

KAYE: Little Madeleine McCann was gone.

M. MCCANN: Look.


KAYE: Desperate to get her back, Kate and Gerry McCann shared their daughter with the world.

K. MCCANN: These are actually the pajamas that Madeleine was wearing when she was taken.

KAYE: But the massive amounts of publicity came with some criticism.

MITCHELL: You know, how much is too much publicity when a child's life is at stake?

G. MCCANN: The media and particularly the print media, they lost sight what a real family has been a heinous crime and a completely innocent little girl is missing.

KAYE: From the beginning, the British media had a ferocious appetite for anything related to the McCann case. Many salacious newspaper headlines even implied the McCanns may have had something to do with the death and disappearance of their daughter.


So, in 2008, the McCanns sued several of those papers for libel and won. Many of them issued front-page apologies and awarded more than $1 million into a fund established to find Madeleine.

Gerry and Kate weren't the only victims of false reports. First arguido Robert Murat was also awarded over $1 million in libel damages. And their friends, the Tapas seven settled a case for six figures. But what the McCanns wanted most was answers.

PERIBANEZ: It all the clues they gave us --

KAYE: So, they turned to private investigators. Julian Peribanez was a field agent on the case. Did you get the sense that they were desperate for answers?

PERIBANEZ: They thought that nobody was searching for Madeleine. So, they needed to find someone to start looking for her.

MITCHELL: An awful lot of work was done. Teams went to Morocco. They went all over the Mediterranean and various countries following up leads, tip-offs.

UNKNOWN: And the little girl had a hat on. And she looked like Madeleine McCann.

UNKNOWN: I know where she could be. She is still alive. You tell the parents.

KAYE: From reported sightings to psychic visions, Peribanez chased down dozens of possible leads. Then his boss made this bold claim on television.

FRANCISCO MARCO, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: We are 100 percent sure that she is alive. I know the kidnapper. And we know where he is. And we know who he is and we know how he has learned it.

PERIBANEZ: I was shocked, embarrassed and ashamed.

KAYE: Why is that?

PERIBANEZ: Because we didn't have any clue whatsoever of who took her.

KAYE: A dearth of clues, dead ends and dashed hopes, hallmarks of the McCann case. And it didn't help that the Portuguese authorities shared almost no information. Until the summer of 2008.

SWAN: Portuguese police, who had been working under conditions of quite extreme secrecy, because that is their judicial law, released the files to the public and the press. So suddenly, there was a tidal wave of thousands of pages of police files, all in Portuguese, that anyone could examine.

KAYE: The McCanns spent more than $100,000 to translate the files to English. And then countless hours pouring through them.

K. MCCANN: And I was desperate to go through this myself, because I knew that I'd be going through with a fine-tooth comb.

KAYE: The open case files meant vindication for the McCanns.

MITCHELL: The DNA that was found in the trunk of the vehicle, it was in inconclusive.

SWAN: There were absolutely no evidence that the DNA in question belonged to Madeleine.

KAYE: And amidst the stacks of papers, the McCanns found some hope.

G. MCCANN: The most important thing that came out when the files were released, there is absolutely no evidence anywhere to suggest that Madeleine has been physically harmed.

KAYE: With faith renewed their daughter could still be out there and alive, Gerry and Kate release this photo of what Madeleine McCann could look like at age 6, two years after she went missing.

K. MCCANN: And I just think it's so vital and so fair for Madeleine that we don't give up on her.

KAYE: Coming up, the power of a public appeal to the highest authorities.



KAYE: May 2011, four years after she vanished from a Portuguese resort, Madeleine McCann was still missing. And the only ones still searching were her parents.

G. MCCANN: It is a fact that no law enforcement agency or police force has been looking for Madeleine for three years. We've been doing it on our own.

KAYE: But Kate and Gerry McCann weren't giving up. They were taking action.

G. MCCANN: I'm absolutely confident that Kate's book will help the search directly and indirectly.

SWAN: Kate McCann's book was really a cry for help. But in the end, it included a plea, a plea to reopen the case.

UNKNOWN: Thank you very much.

KAYE: A plea the McCanns would aim next at Britain's prime minister.

SWAN: In a letter printed in one of the big tabloid newspapers in the U.K., they essentially begged Prime Minister Cameron to open up a review of the case.

K. MCCANN: I believe there are bits of information that haven't been linked up to each other which could then be significant.

SWAN: And in the end, David Cameron did respond within 24 hours of the McCanns' open letter appearing in the press. He had authorized the metropolitan police to undertake a review of the case.

KAYE: In 2011, Scotland Yard ordered a review called Operation Grange. Their task, to assume nothing and reexamine the entire case from the very beginning. Less than two years later, that review launched an official investigation. In the summer of 2014, officials returned to Praia da Luz to conduct a week-long ground search.

SWAN: The clear implication was that they were looking for perhaps human remains.

MITCHELL: The visuals of it were police searching under growth, this is dreadful. But they were there to rule things out. Has that been double-checked? Has this been checked? Did you do this? Did you do that?

KAYE: Another step in a painful process of elimination. Since 2007, there had been at least 9,000 reported sightings of Madeleine. Scotland Yard alone has looked at more than 600 individuals, pored over 40,000 documents, and spent in excess of $15 million in their search for Madeleine.


There has been a fair amount of criticism about how much money has been spent on the investigation into finding Madeleine McCann. Also, they've been criticized for getting preferential treatment by British authorities. What's your response to that?

MITCHELL: If those people who are doing the criticism, it was their child who was missing, would they say the same? They would wish that every other missing child case would get a similar level of resourcing.

KAYE: British investigators chased down multiple leads, from botched burglaries to follow-ups on eyewitness accounts and suspicious sightings. For years, Operation Grange toiled on and still no formal suspects and no charges filed. And in 2017, on the tenth anniversary of little Madeleine's disappearance, her parents still searched and prayed for answers.

G. MCCANN: Inevitably on the anniversaries and her birthday, they are by far the hardest days, by far.

K. MCCANN: I think it is important, though. Because despite how difficult these days are, just keeping in mind how much progress we have made. And whilst there is no evidence to give us any negative news, you know, that hope is still there.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: There is a major new development this morning in the case of Madeleine McCann.

OHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The suspect has an extensive rap sheet.

KAYE: In June 2020, a major breakthrough in the case, but this time in Germany. More than 1,500 miles away from the crime scene. Prosecutors name the first formal suspect in the case since the McCanns were cleared.

UNKNOWN: Madeleine Beth McCann --

KAYE: A German national named Christian Brueckner. Due to German privacy law, officials here refer to him as Christian b. A convicted rapist and known child abuser who lived and worked around the ocean club.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Prosecutors say the suspect lived in this house in Praia da Luz, Portugal. They also say a cell phone listed under his name has been located to have been in the area at the time of Maddie's disappearance. Authorities also released pictures of these two vehicles he used at the time. Another clue, British police say he tried to reregister one of them after Maddie vanished.

MARK CRANWELL, METROPOLITAN POLICE: Most intriguing is he re- registered the car on May 4th. This is a day after Madeleine went missing.

KAYE: Two years after German authorities went public, Brueckner still has not been formally charged, and he denies any involvement in the McCann case. His attorney did not respond to CNN's request for comment, but spoke in this Discovery + documentary in 2021.

FRIEDRICH FULSCHER, CHRISTIAN BRUECKNER'S ATTORNEY (through translator): My client hasn't been charged in this trial. He is under suspicion and is being investigated. I have to assume that they do not have any concrete evidence.

KAYE: That's not what prosecutors told me. Coming up from the U.K. to Portugal to Germany, the international hunt for clues continues.



KAYE: A new twist now in a mystery that has gripped the world for 15 years.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Portuguese authorities have said they have now named suspect.

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: He's currently serving jail time in Germany for the rape of a woman in the very same region where Madeleine McCann went missing. Now he has denied any involvement in her disappearance.

KAYE: What do we know about Christian Brueckner?

HANS CHRISTIAN WOLTERS, GERMAN PROSECUTOR: There were the first verdicts of sexual abuse of children. Then he left Germany and traveled to Portugal. He broke in houses. He was a criminal in Portugal, too.

KAYE: What crime is Brueckner currently serving time for?

WOLTERS: He's in prison for raping an older American woman. He got a sentence of seven years for this crime, and at the moment half of the sentence is over.

KAYE: This is German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters. While he is fluent in English, he sometimes answers in his native German due to the precise legal nature of the case.

What makes you so certain that Madeleine McCann is dead?

WOLTERS: We have some evidence for this. We have no forensic evidence but we have other evidence, but I'm not allowed to speak about this in detail at the moment.

KAYE: You wouldn't come out and say that Madeleine McCann was dead if you thought there was a chance that she wasn't, correct?


KAYE: So, to be clear the formal suspect in Madeleine McCann's case is a convicted rapist and a known pedophile?


KAYE: Shockingly, authorities received their first tip on Brueckner back in 2013, but as a witness in the McCann case, not a suspect. He allegedly lied and told authorities he wasn't in Portugal at the time of the disappearance.

UNKNOWN: This may have been the biggest mistake in this case. In the letter inviting him nor kind of interview, they explained to him that this was about the Maddie McCann case, and if he's guilty, this gave him all the time in the world to destroy evidence.

KAYE: When you have this man who was living about a mile away from the ocean club. He has a clear criminal record. Why did it take so long?

UNKNOWN: Well, that's one of the big questions in this case. Christian B. Was hiding in plain sight. He lived next to the place, and he was a known child molester. It should have been possible to identify him earlier.

SWAN: In the days right after Madeleine disappeared, he left the Algarve and went back to Germany.

KAYE: It wasn't until 2017 that German authorities started to really look into Christian Brueckner's past. They searched multiple properties he once owned.


At one location deep in the German woods in a deserted factory, officials uncovered USB drives buried under the site where Brueckner's dead dog was buried. Those drives allegedly contain more than 1,000 images and videos of his past crimes.

PLEITGEN: The local prosecutor also says that children's bathing suits were found on the premises.

KAYE: But the question remains, does any of this have a direct connection to the Madeleine McCann case?

One of Brueckner's co-workers recalled this conversation with him.

LENTA JOHLITZ, BRUECKNER'S FORMER CO-WORKER (through translator): At some point he just said, people need to stop. The child is long dead and I asked how would he know. The child might just have run away or been kidnapped. But he said after so many years the child must be dead, and a dead body can be hidden easily.

SWAN: In 2022, we've got the Portuguese coming forward and suddenly naming him as an arguido, a formal suspect. There is a 15-year statute of limitations. The Portuguese in essence stopped the clock to bring the prosecution if all of the evidence does come in.

KAYE: Crime and intelligence analyst, Mark T. Hofmann has been tracking the McCann case for years including the suspect's alleged online activity.

Brueckner was known to post in these pedophile chat rooms online back in 2013. Can you give us some detail of what this post said?

MARK T. HOFMANN, CRIME & INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: This conversation I analyzed was on Skype. He did fantasize about abducting a little child, abusing the child sexually and personally on the other end asked if you do it's quite risky, isn't it? Aren't you scared of getting punished or going to prison? And he said, no, that's not a big thing if you destroy the evidence or clean up afterwards, which also includes killing the child.

Do you have any evidence, any video or photographic evidence that puts this formal suspect Christian Brueckner and Madeleine McCann in the says place?

WOLTERS (through translator): I could say something about that but I do not wish to because I do not want to comment on individual pieces of of evidence. KAYE: Does Christian Brueckner have an alibi for the night that

Madeleine McCann disappeared?

WOLTERS: We found no alibi, and he told us no alibi.

KAYE: He apparently talked about this woman who he was having sex with in his camper van at the time.

WOLTERS: We found no woman that say something like that.

KAYE: Since seeking the public's help in 2020, German prosecutors have received more than 1,000 tips from all over the world.

Before you charge, I understand in Germany you have to actually show the court that you have enough for a conviction and not an acquittal, is that correct?

WOLTERS: Yes. We have to be sure that he will sentence for this, and if it's not sure, we are not allowed to charge him.

KAYE: How sure are you that you have named the right man?

WOLTERS: At the moment we think we have the right person.

KAYE: Have you found any more evidence against Christian Brueckner in the last two years?

WOLTERS: Yes, we found evidence against him, but I cannot speak of all this at the moment.

KAYE: New evidence, though, it's fair to say.

WOLTERS: Yes, it's new evidence, but I read something about fiber traces in a van and such things. This is not true. This is rubbish.

KAYE: Prosecutors are still missing a major piece of the puzzle from the night Madeleine disappeared.

WOLTERS: There was a telephone call between Christian B.'s phone number and this number, but we don't know the person who called Christian B.

KAYE: So, you need to find that person to make sure that they were actually talking to Christian Brueckner on that phone.

WOLTERS: Yes. The suspect and we are interested in the content of this call.

KAYE: And how long do you have to charge him?

WOLTERS: In Germany there's no limit for charge someone because of homicide.

KAYE: Would you like to do that before he leaves jail, though?

WOLTERS: We hope that we can finish the investigation in the Madeleine McCann case, but I don't know how much weeks or months we need.

KAYE: While German authorities continue their investigation on the prime suspect and the world stands by for charges to be filed, back here in the small English village of Rothley in Leicester, Madeleine's family continues to wait for answers. And more than 15 years later, friends and neighbors still gather alongside Kate and Gerry McCann to pray for a good outcome.

SWAN: There is a person or multiple people who know what happened to Madeleine, and they still need to come forward.


KAYE: The last time Kate and Gerry McCann saw their daughter Madeleine was just days before her fourth birthday. Today she would be a teenager. While most experts agree it's unlikely, they'll ever find her, the McCanns say they still believe in miracles and will never stop searching.