Mysterious Madeleine McCann suspect who died before police got to question him

Portuguese police previously named a former employee at the Ocean Club hotel in Praia da Luz as the prime suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance – but he died before they could question him

Madeleine McCann was abducted from the Ocean Club hotel in Portugal in 2007

A former chief suspect in the Madeleine McCann disappearance was an employee at the hotel where she vanished – but he died before detectives could question him.

Nearly a decade ago, reports said police had identified the 40-year-old as key in their investigations after tests on his mobile phone showed he was near the toddler’s apartment when she vanished.

But he died in a tractor accident in 2009 before the lead could be fully explored.

It comes after German paedophile Christian Brueckner was officially named as a suspect in Portugal for the very first time, his lawyers confirmed yesterday.

The 43-year-old being named as a suspect is linked to the upcoming 15th anniversary of the abduction.

In Portugal, there is a strict 15-year limit for bringing a murder charge.

Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry, both 48, were named as potential suspects in September 2007, though this status was lifted the following July.

Christian Brueckner has been formally named as a suspect by Portuguese police



Brueckner was previously identified by German investigators but no charge was brought


Carabinieri Milan via Getty Images)

But suspicions at one stage were so strong against the mysterious, unnamed Ocean Club worker that Portugal’s Attorney General agreed to re-open the investigation in 2013.

It had been shelved more than five years preceding this date.

Officers quizzed the man’s widow and were thought to be searching for Madeleine’s body, in the belief that he may have killed her, reported Portuguese daily newspaper Correio da Manha at the time.

Kate and Gerry McCann were at one point named as suspects


AFP via Getty Images)

It said that his departure from the Praia da Luz hotel was “fractious” and that reasons around why he may have kidnapped her were “still being investigated”.

“The suspect could have taken the child to commit a sex crime before killing her,” the article continued.

“But he could also have committed the kidnap as a form of retaliation against the Ocean Club.

“His aim could have been to call into question the security of the holiday club but something went wrong and the youngster disappeared.”

The Ocean Club in Praia Da Luz where Madeleine was staying



The unnamed suspect was also living in a flat in the town of Lagos, around a 15-minute drive from the McCann’s resort.

During the initial inquiry, more than 130 workers were interviewed, including two maintenance men who fixed a blind in Gerry and Kate’s apartment two days before Madeleine disappeared.

The pair also showed her mum how to use the washing machine.

One of the men blamed gypsies for a string of robberies in the area and told police he had seen travelers stealing firewood from an Ocean Club warehouse around four months before Madeleine disappeared.

Meanwhile, Brueckner being formally named as a suspect allows the current investigation to continue further.

The previous former Madeleine suspect had been an employee at the hotel



His lawyer, Friedrich Fuelscher said: “The step taken by the Portuguese authorities should not be overrated.

“Without knowing the Portuguese legal situation in detail, I assume that this measure is a procedural artifice to stop the statute of limitations threatening in a few days.”

Brueckner was first named in the summer of 2020 as a prime suspect by German police, after mobile phone records placed him in Praia da Luz on the night Maddie vanished.

But despite further extensive inquiries he has never been charged.

Recently, the Portuguese authorities confirmed that they will continue their inquiries amid reports that Scotland Yard’s Operation Grange investigation will be wound up this autumn.

Brueckner is currently serving a rape sentence at a high security prison in Oldenburg, northwest Germany.

He also still faces charges for the rape of Irish national Hazel Behan in Portugal in 2004.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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