16 years of Madelin Mackan disappearance: all the loose ends and twists of this case

Madeleine Mackan disappearance

It has been 16 years since the disappearance of Madelin Mackan, a nightmare that shocked the country and revolutionized the world, turning the little girl of just three years old into one of the most famous girls in England.

However, despite the media coverage of the disappearance, Madeleine Mccann never appeared and the case was never solved. What’s more, the investigation has been complicated from the start, with unexpected twists and even loose ends that have muddied the investigation.

Evidence destroyed

The former commissioner who led the investigation in the early months, Gonçalo Amaral, admitted in his book Maddie, the Truth of the Lie that some of the most important forensic clues to solve the case may have been destroyed and lost because the police did not do an adequate job as soon as they arrived at the apartment.

The first suspect

The first suspect in the case was a 35-year-old British man, divorced and with a daughter, who lived 100 meters from the apartment. However, he was soon cleared of responsibility and ten British newspapers were ordered to pay 750,000 euros in compensation for damage to their image.

Madeleine Mackan disappearance

Suspicious parents

Several months later, there were no new clues to pull together, until the Portuguese police declared the girl’s own parents suspects after finding traces of blood and footprints of a corpse in the apartment where the girl disappeared, and also in a vehicle rented by the parents almost a month after the disappearance.

But not only that, Commissioner Amaral also explains in his book that the girl must have died after an accidental fall from a sofa in the apartment, and reveals that an Irish couple identified Gerry Mcann as the man carrying a girl in his arms on the night of the events, near the place where Madeleine was last seen.

However, in July 2008, the public prosecutor’s office ruled out this possibility due to a lack of evidence and referred to a kidnapping as the main hypothesis. A thread that was pursued until the end and that involved the Portuguese, British and European authorities, making the investigation one of the most important in history.

Madeleine Mackan disappearance

Suicide of the new suspect

In July 2013, new evidence emerged and a sketch of a suspect who had been seen near the area where Madeleine disappeared was circulated. However, a statement could never be taken from him because the suspect, who also had a criminal record for the abduction and murder of another girl, committed suicide in Switzerland three months after Madeleine’s disappearance.

Several outstanding hypotheses

So far, there have been several open hypotheses: that Madeleine could have died the same night she disappeared, given the blood found at the scene, or that a gang of paedophiles was behind the abduction and that the minor was hiding in a house in the Algarve, as Detective Dave Edgar had suggested. But even the possibility of a foiled robbery was considered, that thieves might have kidnapped the little girl after finding her awake in the middle of a robbery.

Christian Brueckner, Suspect in the Disappearance

For years, police made little headway in the investigation, until a tip from Germany became public in 2020: a 43-year-old German prisoner named Christian Brueckner was a suspect in the disappearance.

Madeleine Mackan disappearance

In 2022, evidence was found in the prisoner’s caravan, but although German prosecutors are convinced of his guilt, the truth is that there is still not enough evidence to charge him.