Suspect identified in Madeleine McCann disappearance

The AM Show 04/06/2020

A suspect has been identified in the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

In what it deems a "significant investigative update", London's Metropolitan Police says a 43-year-old German man has been identified as a "suspect". He is currently imprisoned in Germany for "an unrelated matter".

According to Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell, the suspect is roughly 1.8 metres tall and was 30 years old at the time of McCann's disappearance from an apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal on May 3, 2007. She was three years old at the time and went missing while on holiday with her British family.

"[The suspect] is white and had blonde fair-ish hair."

The man, who is not named by authorities, is understood to have lived "on and off" in the Algarve area between 1995 and 2007. This is the Portuguese region where Praia da Luz is located.

"It's more than 13 years since Madeleine went missing and none of us can imagine what it must be like for her family, not knowing what happened or where she is," Det Chief Insp Cranwell said.

"Following the 10-year anniversary, the Met received information about a German man who was known to have been in and around Praia da Luz. We have been working with colleagues in Germany and Portugal and this man is a suspect in Madeleine's disappearance."

The Associated Press reports Christian Hoppe of Germany's federal police service told local broadcaster ZDF that the suspect was in prison for a sexual crime and has two previous convictions for "sexual contact with girls". Hoppe said German police won't rule out a sexual motive or that it was a spontaneous kidnapping.

Two vehicles the suspect is known to have used around the time of McCann's disappearance have also been revealed, as well as phone numbers "relevant to [the] investigation".

One of the vehicles was a VW Campervan T3 model with "distinctive colour markings" including a white upper body and yellow lower body. The man also had a Jaguar XJR 6, which was an early 90s model and burgundy/dark in colour, registered in his name.

"We know he had those vehicles in the area before Madeleine disappeared and afterwards," said Det Chief Insp Cranwell.

The day after McCann's disappearance, the Jaguar was re-registered in someone else's name in Germany. This doesn't require the vehicle to be in Germany and officers believe it was still in Portugal at the time. 

Both vehicles are now in the custody of German authorities.

Det Chief Insp Cranwell said it's believed the suspect's number was +351 912 730 680. The man received a call in Praia da Luz on this number the night McCann disappeared. The second number was +351 916 510 683. This was the mobile number of the person who rang the suspect's phone and wasn't in the Praia da Luz area.

"I'm appealing for information and the witness. Did you have that number? Do you know the number I'm referring to?"

Despite the new information, Det Chief Insp Cranwell said officers are keeping "an open mind" and it remains a missing person investigation.

The missing child's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, thanked authorities for their "continued efforts" to find their daughter.

"All we have ever wanted is to find her, uncover the truth and bring those responsible to justice. 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."