Madeleine McCann, the Briton who disappeared in Portugal in 2007 at the age of three, has died, the German prosecutor announced Thursday after identifying a German child molester who was imprisoned as a murder suspect.
McCann disappeared from his room on May 3 during a family vacation in the Algarve while his parents were dining with friends nearby in the resort of Praia da Luz.
Her disappearance has sparked international search, with missing posters of the girl’s face carpeted around the world and celebrity calls for information that could help locate her and bring her captors to justice.
“We assume that the girl is dead,” said Braunschweig public prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters. “The Braunschweig public prosecutor’s office is investigating a 43-year-old German national suspected of murder.”
The unnamed German man lived in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007 and robbed hotels and holiday apartments and drug trafficking, said German police. He is currently in detention for another case.
British and German police asked for information about the man and released photos of the vehicles – a Volkswagen camper van and a Jaguar – that he was using at the time.
German police said earlier that the suspect, who lived near Praia da Luz, had been repeatedly sentenced to prison terms for child sexual abuse in the past.
They said they treated the matter as an alleged murder and determined the method used to kill McCann. No body has ever been found.
“All we have always wanted is to find her, find the truth and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said her parents, Kate and Gerry, in a statement released before the German prosecutor spoke.
“We will never give up the hope of finding Madeleine alive, but whatever the outcome, we must know that we must find peace.”
Police said they wanted to speak to a second unidentified second person who spoke with the German suspect from a Portuguese phone number on May 3, 2007 at the time of McCann’s disappearance.
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