Madeleine McCann investigators ‘believe village where Brueckner lived could hold vital


Investigators leading the search for Madeleine McCann reportedly believe an Algarve village where prime suspect Christian Bruecker lived could hold vital clues to help solve the case.

Bruecker, a convicted rapist, stayed in the Villa Bianca in the village of Foral in the months after Madeleine disappeared from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia de Luz in 2007. 

It is understood the village, a 50-minute drive away from Praia de Luz, could be searched again by cops in the hopes it will ‘throw up fresh leads’. 

It comes after it was revealed that there could be other areas surrounding Praia du Luz that police can search after German detectives scoured through more than 8,000 photographs belonging to Brueckner.

Detectives are understood to believe the village of Foral, where Brueckner stayed between 2007 and 2008, could hold vital clues.

Bruecker, a convicted rapist, stayed in the Villa Bianca (pictured) in the village of Foral in the months after Madeleine disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia de Luz in 2007

Bruecker, a convicted rapist, stayed in the Villa Bianca (pictured) in the village of Foral in the months after Madeleine disappeared from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia de Luz in 2007

Detectives are said to believe the village of Foral, where Brueckner stayed between 2007 and 2008, could hold vital clues. Pictured: The villa where Brueckner lived

Detectives are said to believe the village of Foral, where Brueckner stayed between 2007 and 2008, could hold vital clues. Pictured: The villa where Brueckner lived 

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Madeleine (left) was aged three in May 2007 when she vanished from her bedroom in the apartment her family were staying at in the Praia da Luz resort on the Algarve coast. German prosecutors believe Christian Brueckner (right) is behind her disappearance 

A source told the Sun: ‘Christian B spent a lot of time there after Madeleine vanished. It was his favourite hangout and cops believe images of the area are among many of Christian B’s pictures they currently have in their possession.’

The villa where Christian B was staying in Foral was rented out to a German woman called Nicole between 2002 and 2009. 

But a German couple who had lived in the village for more than 20 years said they immediately recognised Brueckner when he was named as the prime suspect in 2020.

Lia Silva, the owner of the property, said an intimidating German man would visit the villa and visit Nicole. 

He reportedly parked his distinctive Volkswagen Westfalia campervan, which was subsequently seized by German police, in the car park of a nearby restaurant.\

‘Some people were afraid of him when he used to go to the restaurant,’ Ms Silva said. That year, it was revealed that a witness claimed to have spotted Madeleine getting into a German-owned VW van with a man just weeks after her disappearance.

Analysis of Brueckner’s photographs had led detectives to focus their search last week on the remote Barragem do Arade reservoir, which the convicted rapist referred to as a ‘little piece of paradise’.

But other locations have also emerged as potential areas of interest following further analysis of the images.

‘Detectives are seeking to work out where these places are and why Christian B was taking pictures of those places,’ the source said. 

They added: ‘The trail is leading to Foral because this is an area that officers know that Christian B spent a long time in and around at the time Maddie went missing. 

It’s an area where police officers believe would benefit from being looked at again and revisiting to see if it can throw up fresh leads.

‘They firmly believe other sites are out there which require a fresh search.’

Authorities gather at a makeshift base camp in the Arade dam area during the search operation amid the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance on May 23

Authorities gather at a makeshift base camp in the Arade dam area during the search operation amid the investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance on May 23 

Last week investigators cleared a large area of woodland at the Algarve reservoir and dug deep holes to collect samples, which have been sent for forensic and DNA testing in Germany

Last week investigators cleared a large area of woodland at the Algarve reservoir and dug deep holes to collect samples, which have been sent for forensic and DNA testing in Germany

Bruecker, a convicted rapist, stayed in the Villa Bianca in the village of Foral in the months after Madeleine disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia de Luz in 2007

Bruecker, a convicted rapist, stayed in the Villa Bianca in the village of Foral in the months after Madeleine disappeared from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia de Luz in 2007

Investigators last week searched the remote Barragem do Arade reservoir and cleared a large area of woodland there before digging eight deep holes to collect samples of soil, which have been sent to forensic and DNA testing in Germany. 

And yesterday, German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, who is leading the case, confirmed that a ‘number of items’ were seized during the search.

Police had said they found a ‘relevant clue’ during their search of the beauty spot after an informant was able to match photographs showing Brueckner close to the reservoir.

Several items were removed from the site, which may or may not be of relevance to the investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance. They include a bra strap, pieces of clothing and plastic items.

An area of about 160 square feet had been flattened and cleared of grass and shrubs with several holes dug into the ground to a depth of about two feet to collect samples of soil, which have been sent for forensic and DNA testing in Germany. The results of the full analysis could take months to be completed.

Last week’s activity was the first major search for the toddler in nine years and comes after German police discovered photos of Brueckner at his self-described ‘little paradise’ in the Portuguese region, it is understood. 

Brueckner would camp by the reservoir at weekends and is understood to have set up a base there to ‘cleanse himself’, it emerged last week.

A former friend of Brueckner, who has lived on Algarve for nearly 30 years and has been helping police with their investigation, claims the criminal would visit the reservoir ‘often’ but was ‘always secretive about it’.

The German mother-of-three, whose identity has not been made public, recalled how Brueckner would drive his campervan to the edge of the lake because he ‘liked to be near the water’.

She claimed he always camped in the same location and ‘there was usually no one else around’.

‘This was his exact special spot that he said he liked to come to cleanse himself,’ she said of his campsite, telling The Sun: ‘I don’t know what he did there as he was very secretive.’

Details of Brueckner’s secret lair came to light as a British couple told The Mail on Sunday how they spotted a bizarre ‘shrine’ to Madeleine in the reservoir just seven months after she vanished. 

The retired couple, who have asked to be named only as Ralf and Ann, were so disturbed by what they saw they took pictures and sent them to Portuguese detectives, thinking they were of significance but, amazingly, never heard back.

Consisting of boulders in the shape of an arrow pointing towards a picnic site which was dug over by police last week, the makeshift memorial was weighed down by a large rock and had a bouquet of flowers and a photograph of abducted Madeleine on it.

Christian Brueckner, 45, would camp in the Barragem do Arade reservoir where cops last week searched for clues in Madeline McCann missing persons case. The convicted rapist and paedophile is understood to have built a circle out of stones from the water (pictured)

Christian Brueckner, 45, would camp in the Barragem do Arade reservoir where cops last week searched for clues in Madeline McCann missing persons case. The convicted rapist and paedophile is understood to have built a circle out of stones from the water (pictured)

For more than a decade, Madeleine's anguished parents Gerry and Kate (pictured together in 2017) have waited in vain for any news - any clue - that their little girl is somehow alive after all this time

For more than a decade, Madeleine’s anguished parents Gerry and Kate (pictured together in 2017) have waited in vain for any news – any clue – that their little girl is somehow alive after all this time

Three years ago – when prime suspect Brueckner, 45, was identified by German police – the couple contacted detectives after seeing an appeal for anyone who was on holiday in the Algarve when Madeleine went missing in May 2007 to get in touch.

This time, the German officers from the BKA (criminal investigation unit) responded within hours of Ralf and Ann emailing them and quizzed them on the telephone for several hours before asking them to give a formal statement.

It raises the question of whether it was their information that prompted the German authorities to request a search of the remote picnic area campsite on the edge of the reservoir near Silves, which Brueckner used to call his ‘little paradise’.

Meanwhile, German criminal profiler Axel Petermann said officers were right to dig at a place Brueckner was apparently so fond of.

He told The Mirror: ‘The criminal perpetrators who I got to know over the years tend to hide their victims in places where they feel safe and can assess danger.

‘These are places which are secluded and secret and where they can stop and assess various risks.

‘They can also be places where they feel good, and where there is a certain private memory of a certain act.

‘So, I think the search activity may have been going in this direction.’

He added: ‘My recommendation when dealing with suspects in the case of missing people is always to find the places where these suspects spent time, where they had secrets, where they could assess risks, so from this point of view I think the investigators’ current search was very important.

‘You must always delve into the life of the suspect so you can find out about their preferences, their tendencies, their favourite locations where they liked to spend time.

‘And I don’t think you can really find any better possibilities than to look in secret, confidential locations.’

German prosecutors last year named convicted child abuser and drug dealer Brueckner as the prime suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.

She was three in May 2007 when she vanished from her bedroom in the apartment her family were staying at in the Praia da Luz resort on the Algarve coast. The reservoir is about 30 miles inland from the resort. 

Brueckner is now behind bars in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in the same area from where McCann went missing. 

Pictured: Christian Brueckner was filmed at the wheel of a battered VW campervan weeks before Madeleine was kidnapped

Pictured: Christian Brueckner was filmed at the wheel of a battered VW campervan weeks before Madeleine was kidnapped

The German suspect had lived in a warehouse outside Praia da Luz for several years but moved into a campervan just before Madeleine vanished

The German suspect had lived in a warehouse outside Praia da Luz for several years but moved into a campervan just before Madeleine vanished

Sources close to Brueckner’s legal team said any new searches will be a ‘waste of time’. 

The source told the Sun: ‘He didn’t kill Madeleine and all of this is taking attention away from the job of finding out who really did.’

Brueckner was known to break into Algarve hotel rooms and apartments to supplement his income from drug dealing, and left the south of Portugal suddenly in 2007 – the year Madeleine vanished – after more than a decade living there. 

He is alleged to have admitted abducting Madeleine to a friend in a bar – and German investigators are said to firmly believe he killed the three-year-old. 

But more than three years after linking Brueckner to Madeleine’s disappearance, he has still not been charged with any crime because prosecutors do not have enough evidence. 



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