Search icon


25th May 2023

Madeleine McCann main suspect went to reservoir days after she disappeared

Steve Hopkins

Searchers have been provided with maps showing where to excavate based on a tip-off

The main suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance reportedly visited the reservoir – now being re-research by police – days after the Brit went missing in 2007.

At the request of German investigators, Portuguese police on Tuesday began searching around Arade dam on, about 30 miles from Praia da Luz, where Madeleine was last seen alive just before her fourth birthday on 3 May 2007. She went missing from her room, where she was sleeping along with her two siblings, while her parents were at dinner 130 feet away.

The reservoir is said to be a favourite spot of convicted German rapist Christian Brückner, who is the key suspect. The 45-year-old is currently in prison for raping a 72-year-old woman in the same area of the Algarve region where Madeleine went missing but has not been charged with any crime related to the disappearance. He has always maintained that he was not involved.

According to reports on Thursday, Brueckner is said to have visited “his little paradise” – possibly with others – “some days” after Madeleine went missing.

A former friend of his is said to have informed police, and the tip-off tallied up with photos and videos of Brueckner near the reservoir and influenced investigators to carry out thorough searches of the area. The area police are searching was examined twice in 2008 by divers hired by a private Portuguese lawyer.

The Times reported that search teams have been provided with maps showing where to excavate based on the tip-off.

A source with knowledge of the investigation told the publication that detectives believe Madeleine could have been alive for two or three days after she disappeared.

German police have not said what prompted the new search, however, prosecutor for the city of Braunschweig, Christian Wolters, said they were acting on the basis of “certain tips”.

“We have indications that we could find evidence there. I don’t want to say what that is exactly, and I also don’t want to say where these indications come from,” he told German public broadcaster NDR.

“The only thing that I would clarify is that it doesn’t come from the suspect – so we don’t have a confession or anything similar now, or an indication from the suspect of where it would make sense to search.”

The Sun reported that investigators previously found photos and video of Brueckner at the reservoir.

The Mirror reported that police spend several hours cutting back the undergrowth of a peninsula next to the water on Wednesday, before using shovels to excavate part of it. A large section of the Barragem do Arade has been cordoned off since Tuesday.

Sniffer dogs and rakes have been used by uniformed and plain-clothed officers, before specialist forest workers used machinery to cut back the landscape.

Portuguese daily Expresso said that the first day of searches ended with no significant results, but said police had collected some objects including fabrics and garments.