Madeleine McCann: A timeline of events in disappearance as police identify new suspect

What has happened in 13 years since three-year-old went missing in Praia de Luz

Andy Gregory
Wednesday 03 June 2020 21:32 BST
Madeleine McCann- German paedophile with multiple convictions identified as suspect for disappearance 13 years ago.mp4

Answers in the 13-year search for Madeleine McCann may be a step closer with the news that police have identified a German paedophile as a suspect.

The unnamed 43-year-old is currently serving a long prison sentence in Germany, where the Federal Criminal Police Office is now leading the investigation. It is being treated as a murder inquiry.

The suspect, who has previously been convicted for sexually abusing children, was living in Portugal when Madeleine disappeared in Praia de Luz, where he worked in catering, burgled holiday apartments and trafficked drugs.​

As investigators appeal for information on a campervan, car and mobile phone number linked to him that could be “critical” for the case, here is a timeline of the known events in Madeleine’s disappearance.

3 May 2007: Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, leave their three children asleep in their Portuguese holiday apartment while they dine with friends at a nearby tapas restaurant.

Nothing is amiss when Mr McCann checks on the children just after 9pm, but when his wife goes back at about 10pm she finds three-year-old Madeleine missing. Jane Tanner, one of the friends dining with the McCanns, reports seeing a man carrying a child earlier that night.

14 May: Detectives take Anglo-Portuguese property developer Robert Murat in for questioning and make him an “arguido”, or formal suspect. Officers also search the home he shares with his mother in Praia da Luz, just 100 yards from where the youngster vanished.

11 August: Exactly 100 days after Madeleine disappeared, investigating officers publicly acknowledge for the first time that she could be dead.

7 September: During questioning of Mr and Mrs McCann, detectives make them both “arguidos” in their daughter’s disappearance.

9 September: The McCanns fly back to England with their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.

21 July 2008: The Portuguese authorities shelve their investigation and lift the “arguido” status of the McCanns and Robert Murat.

12 May 2011: Mrs McCann publishes a book about her daughter’s disappearance, on Madeleine’s eighth birthday.

Scotland Yard launches a review of the case after a request from home secretary Theresa May, supported by prime minister David Cameron.

25 April 2012: Scotland Yard detectives say they believe Madeleine could still be alive, and release an age-progression picture of how she might look as a nine year old.

The Met calls on Portuguese authorities to reopen the case, but Portuguese police say they have found no new material.

4 July 2013: Scotland Yard confirms it has launched its own investigation, Operation Grange, into Madeleine’s disappearance two years into a review of the case. It has “genuinely new” lines of inquiry and has identified 38 people of interest, including 12 Britons.

24 October: Portuguese police confirm that a review of their original investigation has uncovered new lines of inquiry, and they reopen the case.

Madeleine McCann: Father Gerry describes moment he realised his daughter was missing

29 January 2014: British detectives fly to Portugal amid claims they are planning to make arrests.

3 June: Sniffer dogs and specialist teams are used to search an area of scrubland close to where Madeleine went missing.

12 December: Detectives begin questioning 11 people who it was thought may have information on the case.

16 September 2015: The government discloses that the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine has cost more than £10m.

28 October: Scotland Yard’s investigation into the disappearance has been cut from 29 officers to four.

30 April 2017: The couple prepare to mark 10 years since their daughter’s disappearance with a BBC interview where they vow to do “whatever it takes for as long as it takes” to find her.

3 May 2019: Local media report Portuguese detectives are investigating a foreign paedophile as a suspect in the abduction of Madeleine McCann.

3 June 2020: Police reveal that a 43-year-old German prisoner has been identified as a suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.

Additional reporting by PA

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