Portuguese police have launched searches for Madeleine McCann’s body on the Algarve.
The searches are said to have been conducted in wells in Vila do Bispo, a 20 minute drive west of Praia da Luz where the British youngster vanished in May 2007.
Investigators reportedly brought in a team of specialist rescue firefighters who included expert divers to examine the water wells in Vila do Bispo on the Algarve.
Portuguese state broadcaster RTP is saying detectives discovered ‘fundamental evidence’ to be able to prove suspect Christian Brueckner is responsible for her disappearance.
The broadcaster has also linked the German 43-year-old to another missing persons’ case in the Algarve resort of Silves.
RTP reporter Sandra Felgueiras last week revealed Breuckner had been arrested on suspicion of exposing himself to children in a playground a short drive from Praia da Luz in 2017 when he was on the run from German authorities.
Portuguese police have discovered ‘fundamental evidence’ to be able to prove suspect Christian Brueckner (right) is responsible for Madeline McCann’s (left) disappearance
She also quizzed a couple the convicted paedophile used to live with in Portugal who claimed a Scotland Yard neighbour had been helping Algarve investigators probe Madeleine’s disappearance.
There was no immediate official response from Portuguese police to the RTP well search claims.
The searches are said to have involved officers from Portugal’s GNR force, which tends to cover rural areas, as well as PJ investigators and the fire rescue team.
However, Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha said no evidence Madeleine’s body had been abandoned in the wells had been found.
After the recent appeal which led to Brueckner being identified as a suspect, Portuguese police were said to be on standby to search wells and other areas German prosecutors pinpointed as possible burial sites once they had extra information.
The convicted child sex offender, who was born in Würzburg under a different name believed to be Fischer, is currently behind bars in Germany and serving 21 months for dealing drugs in the German resort of Sylt.
His lawyers have reportedly filed a request for him to be released after serving two-thirds of his sentence, but prosecutors fear he may flee the country after his release.
The serial sex offender is also facing a separate sentence for the rape of a 72-year-old American woman in Praia da Luz in 2005.
During the attack, Brueckner reportedly bound, gagged, blindfolded and whipped his victim with a metal cane before raping her for 15 minutes.
In late 2008, the sex offender was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant while living on the streets of Milan for the rape of the American pensioner and taken back to Germany where he was charged.
In December 2019, a court in Braunschweig, near Hanover in north-central Germany, where he had lived before fleeing to Italy, convicted him of the rape after DNA from his hair was found in the woman’s holiday home.
The house where German paedophile Christian Brueckner lived in Praia da Luz shortly before Madeleine McCann went missing
Madeleine McCann vanished from this holiday apartment in the popular Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz – Apartment 5a – while her parents were with friends nearby and regularly checking on their three sleeping children
The German suspect had lived in a warehouse outside Praia da Luz for several years but moved into a campervan just before Madeleine vanished
The suspect, who is in prison in Germany, has been linked to an early 1980s camper van – with a white upper body and yellow skirting, registered in Portugal – which is seen here on the Algarve in 2007
What do we know about Maddie murder suspect Christian Brueckner and his criminal past?
1976: Christian Brueckner is born in Würzburg under a different name, believed to be Fischer. He was adopted by the Brueckner family and took their surname.
1992: Christian Brueckner is arrested on suspicion of burglary in his hometown of Wurzburg, Bavaria.
1994: He is given a two-year youth jail sentence for ‘abusing a child’ and ‘performing sex acts in front of a child’.
1995: Brueckner arrives in Portugal as an 18-year-old backpacker and begins working in catering in the seaside resorts of Lagos and Praia da Luz.
But friends say he became involved with a criminal syndicate trafficking drugs into the Algarve.
September 2005: He dons a mask and breaks into an apartment where he rapes a 72-year-old American tourist.
The victim was bound, gagged, blindfolded and whipped with a metal cane before being raped for 15 minutes. She said afterwards that he had clearly enjoyed ‘torturing’ her before the rape.
April 2007: He moves out of a farmhouse and into a campervan now linked to the crime. The farmhouse is cleaned and a bag of wigs and ‘exotic clothes’ is found.
May 3, 2007: Madeleine McCann is snatched at around 10pm from her bed as her parents eat tapas with friends yards away.
Brueckner’s mobile phone places him in the area that night. He returns to his native Germany shortly after that.
October 2011: He is sentenced to 21 months for ‘dealing narcotics’ in Niebüll, in northern Germany.
2014: He moves to Braunschweig where he starts running a town-centre kiosk. He then goes back to Portugal with a girlfriend.
2016: He is back in Germany. He is given 15 months in prison for ‘sexual abuse of a child in the act of creating and possessing child pornographic material’.
May 3, 2017: Brueckner is said to be in a bar with a friend when a ten-year anniversary appeal following Madeleine’s disappearance is shown on German television.
He is said to have told him in a bar that he ‘knew all about’ what happened to her. He then showed his friend a video of him raping a woman.
MailOnline understands the friend went to police shortly afterwards.
June 2017: He heads back to Portugal and extradited again to Germany. The reason was a sentencing of the Braunschweig district court to 15 months’ imprisonment for the sexual abuse of a child.
August 2018: After his release from prison he lives on the streets. But he was jailed again for drug offences.
September 2018: Brueckner is arrested in Milan, Italy and extradited to Germany and put on trial for raping the American tourist in 2007 after a DNA match to hair found at the crime scene.
July 2019: He is jailed for 21 months for drug dealing in the northern German resort of Sylt.
August 2019: Brueckner is charged with the rape of the American tourist in Praia da Luz in 2005.
December 2019: He is convicted of rape of extortion of the tourist based on DNA evidence. He is given a seven year sentence, but this has not been imposed pending an appeal.
June 3, 2020: Scotland Yard and the German police reveal that that they have identified a suspect in the Maddie McCann case
June 4, 2020: Prosecutors in Braunschweig, where he lives, say they believe Madeleine McCann has been murdered, says spokesman Hans Christian Wolters. He is named in the German press as the prime suspect.
However he is appealing the rape verdict on the grounds that his extradition from Italy was illegal, with Germany’s Federal High Court due to rule on the case.
Brueckner was an 18-year-old backpacker when he moved from Germany to Praia da Luz in Portugal in 1995 after serving part of a two-year sentence for molesting a six-year-old girl in Wurzburg.
He began working in catering in seaside resorts before reportedly becoming involved in trafficking drugs into the Algarve, according to his friends.
Earlier this year, Brueckner was identified as the prime suspect into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann- who was three-years-old at the time she went missing.
German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters claimed authorities had ‘concrete evidence’ that the three-year-old was killed, and insisted that he had shared this information with Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann in a letter.
‘We have concrete evidence that our suspect has killed Madeleine and this means she is dead,’ he said. ‘The parents have been told the German police have evidence that she is dead but we have not told them the details.’
Prosecutors in Germany also labelled Brueckner a ‘multiple sexual predator’ and claimed that he had been convicted of a child sex offence in his native Germany when he was just 17.
Despite the new information, the drifter, who reportedly has as many as 17 criminal convictions, was apparently overlooked by Portuguese police.
Following his identification as a suspect in the case, he has further been linked to the disappearances of six-year-old boy René Hasse in the Algarve, 1996, and five-year-old girl Igna Gehnricke in Germany, 2015.
In June, it emerged Brueckner became a suspect for Scotland Yard in 2017 when he was said to have told a friend at a bar he ‘knew all about’ what had happened to Madeleine.
According to Sky News, Brueckner was prompted to make the comment when her face appeared on a TV screen in a German pub during a UK appeal for information on the tenth anniversary of her disappearance.
The convicted child sex offender reportedly went on to show his friend a video of him raping a woman.
It is understood that Brueckner lived in a remote farmhouse in Portugal from 1999 to 2006.
The remote property is surrounded by disused water wells and sits on a hillside which leads on to a footpath to the beach where the little girl played.
The farmhouse is also a 25-minute walk to the Ocean Club complex where Madeleine was on holiday with her parents and her twin siblings Sean and Amelie.
In 2014, detectives investigating the disappearance of the little girl sealed off an area of scrubland close to the farmhouse and used a ground-penetrating radar to examine whether there had been a disturbance in the soil.
Earlier this month, detective revealed a new mobile phone lead into the Madeleine McCann case after a viewer on Germany’s Crimewatch recognised the phone number that suspect Bruckner is said to have phoned on the night the young girl vanished.
Details of a call involving a mobile number allegedly used by Brueckner were revealed on the German show Aktenzeichen XY… Ungelöst.
Police previously said a phone linked to Brueckner had received a 30-minute call between 7.32pm and 8.02pm on the night Madeleine disappeared from the Ocean Club apartment complex.
Last month the Metropolitan Police launched a fresh appeal into the disappearance of Madeleine and appealed for information about Brueckner and his movements.
DCI Mark Cranwell, from Operation Grange, said: ‘Following our appeal for information yesterday, I want to thank those members of the public who have contacted us.
‘As of 4pm today, Thursday June 4, 2020, we have received over 270 calls and emails into the incident room.
‘We are pleased with the information coming in, and it will be assessed and prioritised.
‘We continue to urge anyone with information to come forward and speak with us.’
Following their daughter’s disappearance in May of 2007, parents Kate and Gerry McCann, who had been dining in a nearby tapas restaurant as their children slept at their apartment, were questioned by the Portuguese authorities.
However they were soon found to be innocent and have since continued their long battle in trying to find their missing daughter.
German authorities are now trying to track down Brueckner’s ex-girlfriend Nakscije Miftari, who may hold key information about Madeleine’s disappearance.
How the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann unfolded over 13 years
May 3: Gerry and Kate McCann leave their three children, including Maddie, asleep in their hotel apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, as they eat with friends in a nearby restaurant. When they return, they find Maddie missing from her bed
May 4: A friend of the McCanns reports of seeing a man carrying a child away in the night. Meanwhile, airports and borders are put on high alert as search gets underway
May 14: Robert Mural, a property developer who lives a few yards from the hotel, is made a suspect by Portuguese police
May 30: The McCanns meet the Pope in Rome in a bid to bring worldwide attention to the search
August 11: Police in Portugal acknowledge for the first time in the investigation that Maddie might be dead.
September 7: Spanish police make the McCanns official suspects in the disappearance. Two days later the family flies back to England
July 21: Spanish police remove the McCanns and Mr Mural as official suspects as the case is shelved
May 1: A computer-generated image of what Maddie could look like two years after she disappeared is released by the McCanns
May 12: A review into the disappearance is launched by Scotland Yard, following a plea from then-Home Secretary Theresa May
April 25: After a year of reviewing the case, Scotland Yard announce they belief that Maddie could be alive and call on police in Portugal to reopen the case, but it falls on deaf ears amid ‘a lack of new evidence’
Kate and Gerry McCann mark the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine with the publication of the book written by her mother in 2011
July 4: Scotland Yard opens new investigation and claim to have identified 38 ‘people of interest’
October 24: A review into the investigation is opened by Portuguese police and new lines of inquiry are discovered, forcing them to reopen the case
January 29: British officers arrive in Portugal as a detailed investigation takes place. During the year, several locations are searched, including an area of scrubland near the resort
October 28: British police announce that team investigating Maddie’s disappearance is reduced from 29 officers to just four, as it is also revealed that the investigation has cost £10million
April 3: Operation Grange is handed an additional £95,000 by Theresa May to keep the investigation alive for another six months
March 11: Cash is once again pumped into keeping the investigation alive, with £85,000 granted to keep it running until September, when it is extended once again until April next year
March 27: The Home Office reveals it has allocated further funds to Operation Grange. The new fund is believed to be as large as £150,000
September 11: Parents fear as police hunt into daughter’s disappearance could be shelved within three weeks by the new Home Secretary amid funding cuts
September 26: Fresh hope in the search for Madeleine McCann as it emerges the Home Office is considering allocating more cash for the police to find her
April: Controversial new Netflix documentary re-examining Maddie’s kidnap is released, triggering a barrage of online abuse against Kate and Gerry by heartless trolls. They pair, who refused to take part in the eight hour programme series, slammed it for ‘potentially hindering’ the search for their daughter while an active police hunt is ongoing
June 5: The Home Office gives the Metropolitan Police enough funding to investigate for another year
June 22: Detectives say they are ‘closer than ever’ to solving the disappearance as they look into a new suspect. A joint effort by British and Portuguese police narrowed in on a ‘foreign’ man who was in the Algarve when she went missing in 2007
December 7: Paulo Pereira Cristovao, a long-time critic of Maddie’s parents who angered them with a controversial book about the mystery disappearance, was convicted of participating in the planning of two violent break-ins at properties in Lisbon and the nearby resort of Cascais. He is jailed for seven and a half years
December 11: Maddie’s revealed a touching list of what they miss most about their daughter as they spent their 13th Christmas without her
February 22: Scotland Yard detectives questioned a British expat about her German ex-boyfriend. Carol Hickman, 59, claims police entered her bar in Praia da Luz, Portugal to ask questions about her former partner
March 27: Detectives requested extra money to continue their investigation into the disappearance of the toddler in Portugal back in 2007, with funds for the operation set to run out at the end of the month
June 3: Police reveal that a 43-year-old German prisoner has been identified as a suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.