Madeleine McCann: 15 years after her disappearance, where is the search to find her now?

Madeleine McCann: A timeline of key dates and developments

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Maddie’s disappearance sparked one of the largest missing persons investigations in Europe, and now has the combined power of British, Portuguese and German investigators looking to solve the case. Her parents, Kate and Gerry, have never given up the hope of one day being reunited with their daughter.

In a statement released yesterday (Monday), the McCanns wrote: “This year we mark fifteen years since we last saw Madeleine. It feels no harder than any other but no easier either. It’s a very long time.

“Many people talk about the need for ‘closure’. It’s always felt a strange term. Regardless of outcome, Madeleine will always be our daughter and a truly horrific crime has been committed. These things will remain.

“It is true though that uncertainty creates weakness; knowledge and certainty give strength, and for this reason our need for answers, for the truth, is essential. We are grateful for the ongoing work and commitment of the UK, Portuguese and German authorities as it is this combined police effort which will yield results and bring us those answers.

“As always, we would like to thank all of our supporters for their continued good wishes and support. It is a huge comfort to know that regardless of time passed, Madeleine is still in people’s hearts and minds.”

Charlie Hedges, a missing person’s expert at Amber Alert, said: “As we get to the 15th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance, our thoughts must be with her family.

“Losing a child and not knowing what has happened to them is such an agonising experience, beyond the understanding of many people.”

Madeleine went missing when she was three years old, while her family were on holiday in Portugal in 2007.

She and her siblings had been left asleep in the couple’s ground-floor apartment on May 3. Her parents, Kate and Gerry, checked in on the children throughout the evening, until Kate discovered Madeleine was missing at around 10pm.

In 2020, the public prosecutors’ office in Braunschweig, Germany, named convicted rapist and child sexual abuser Christian B as its prime suspect.

Christian B has always denied all allegations in relation to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

The last few weeks have marked a flurry of activity, as Portuguese prosecutors named Christian B, who remains in prison in Oldenburg, as an “arguido”, or suspect in the case.

This is so charges against him could still potentially be brought beyond the 15-year statute of limitations Portugal has on such crimes.

Madeleine’s parents welcomed the news as reflecting “progress in the investigation”.

Writing on the official Find Madeleine Facebook page, they said: “Even though the possibility may be slim, we have not given up hope that Madeleine is still alive and we will be reunited with her.”

According to sister title the Mirror, Christian B was questioned by German investigators on behalf of the Portuguese authorities in his prison cell, after being informed of his new status.

Despite reportedly remaining silent when questioned by authorities, he’s said to have given an alibi to a new Channel 5 documentary, due to air tonight, supported by four other people. The German prosecutors’ office dismissed the claims.

Christian B has been the subject of attention since being named as a suspect in the disappearance of Maddie, particularly in Germany, where he was the focus of an investigative documentary aimed at uncovering new clues in the case.

German TV channel Sat 1 claimed it had evidence that Christian B had “repeatedly worked” at the Ocean Club resort where the McCanns were staying. He was known to have been living in the area at the time, and had worked as a handyman and was a drug dealer.

The documentary also spoke to former acquaintances, who claimed they found a gun and child pornography at his addresses.

The day after Madeleine disappeared, the suspect is said to have transferred his Jaguar car to someone else’s name. Police also uncovered phone records that appeared to place him in the Praia da Luz area on the evening of Madeleine’s disappearance.

Despite naming Christian B as their prime suspect in the case in 2020, the prosecutors’ office in Braunschweig has yet to charge him with any offence in relation to Maddie’s vanishing.

Ahead of the 15th anniversary, Hans Christian Wolters, spokesperson for the German prosecutors’ office, told Express.co.uk that the investigation was “still ongoing” and that he did not know when it would come to an end.

In January, he told this website that investigators still hope to solve the case, but “it remains to be seen whether we will be able to do this.

He added: “At the moment Christian B. is our only suspect. The German police in the form of the BKA is doing an excellent job in the investigation.”

Mr Wolters has also said that he thought it “rather unlikely” that there would be an indictment in Portugal.

The public prosecutor in Faro – which is leading the investigation in Portugal – declined to comment on the status of their investigation, owing to legal concerns. The Metropolitan Police did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr Hedges, who was previously missing children chief at the Child Exploitation and Online Protection unit at the National Crime Agency, said that Maddie’s disappearance was “a very sad case and one that we’d love to resolve.”

He added: “You might lose a relative in a car crash, or there might be some horrible crime – but at least you’ve got an outcome. With missing [persons], you’re left dangling, not knowing what’s going on.”

Mr Hedges told Express.co.uk that on May 25, International Missing Children’s Day, he will be launching a Missing Persons Information Hub, to help families of missing persons who he knows first-hand face an uphill battle to find answers.

He said it will be “designed to give information to academics, professionals and, most importantly, families who are experiencing the distress of a loved one going missing”.

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