#childabductors | German Man Is a Suspect in Case of Madeleine McCann, a Girl Missing Since 2007

BERLIN — After more than a decade of inquiries in at least three European countries, a German sex offender is under investigation on suspicion of murder in the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a British girl who went missing at age 3 from a hotel room in Portugal, authorities in Germany said Wednesday.

Credit…Metropolitan Police

The 43-year-old man, whose identity was not released, lived in Portugal off-and-on from 1995 to 2007.

He has a criminal record for sexual abuse of children, and is currently in prison serving a sentence for an unrelated sexual crime and a drug offense, Christian Hoppe, a criminal investigator at Germany’s Federal Criminal Police, said on public television on Wednesday night.

But in his appearance on Wednesday on a German unsolved crimes TV show, Mr. Hoppe, of the German police, dashed any hopes that she might be still be found, 13 years later.

The evidence discovered, he said, leads “to the assumption that Madeleine was the victim of a homicide.”

The German suspect, who would have been 30 at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance, had worked in restaurants, but also had a record of break-ins at hotels and dealing drugs in the region where Madeleine’s family was on vacation.

The night she vanished, the suspect had a long telephone conversation from the area near Praia da Luz with a person on a Portuguese cellphone, who police are urging to come forward as a witness.

They are also appealing to anyone who might have noticed one of two conspicuous vehicles the suspect used at the time. One was a maroon Jaguar XJR 6, with a German license plate that was changed several times, including the day after Madeleine disappeared.

The other was a white-and-yellow Volkswagen camper van with a Portuguese license plate he is believed to occasionally have lived in but did not own.

Investigators have ruled out the owner of the van as an accomplice. But they said they believed the suspect may have been using the vehicle on the day of Madeleine’s disappearance.

On the television show on Wednesday, Mr. Hoppe also showed images of a living room with a brown leather sofa and a wooden beam in the center of the room, as well as another of a low-slung whitewashed home in the Algarve region where the authorities believe the suspect may have stocked stolen goods.

By showing the pictures, they hoped to jog peoples’ memories about places they believed to be critical to the investigation.

“We do not rule out that in addition to the perpetrator, there are people who have knowledge about the course of events of the crime,” Mr. Hoppe said. “Perhaps even about where the body was deposed, without having been involved in the crime.”

In a statement distributed by the police in London, the McCanns said, “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.”

Melissa Eddy and Katrin Bennhold reported from Berlin, and Benjamin Mueller from London. Raphael Minder contributed reporting from Madrid.


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