All the suspects in the Madeleine McCann case

Although most of them have now been cleared of any involvement...
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It has been 16 years since the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a British toddler who went missing on May 3, 2007, while on vacation with her family in Portugal.

Despite extensive international media coverage and a massive police investigation, her whereabouts remain unknown.

WATCH: Police plea for Maddie McCann search

Over the years, numerous suspects have been identified and investigated but none have led to any significant breakthroughs (likely because most of the suspects have been ultimately cleared).

A newer suspect, however, has led police to a breakthrough in the case.

Read on to see every person who has ever been considered a suspect in the case…

Christian Brueckner

christian brueckner
(Credit: Getty)

More recently, in 2020, the police identified a new suspect in the case, a convicted paedophile and rapist named Christian Brueckner. Brueckner had been living in Portugal at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance and has a history of sexually abusing children.

The police have claimed they have evidence linking Brueckner to Madeleine, including a confession he allegedly made to a friend while drinking in a bar. However, through his lawyer, Brueckner has repeatedly denied any involvement with Madeleine’s disappearance and he has never been charged in connection with the case.

On May 23 (AEST), German and Portuguese police investigating the suspect have honed in on a desolate reservoir site 45 minutes from Praia da Luz where Maddie vanished.

The police are currently conducting a search operation at the Arade Dam, which was initially linked to the case in 2008. While the full extent of law enforcement’s reasoning for this renewed search remains unknown, Christian was said to have called the Dam his “little paradise” in which he would ‘visit often’.

A source who spoke to The Sun elaborated on this, “[Christian] moved around that area. He had a house 12 miles from the place.”

Kate and Gerry McCann

gerry kate mccann
(Credit: Getty)

Portuguese police and detective Goncalo Amaral – who was in charge of Madeleine’s case at the time – named Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry, as the prime suspects in September 2007; four months after Madeleine disappeared.

In July 2008, Portugal’s attorney general archived the case for lack of evidence and Kate and Gerry’s status as official suspects was lifted. Plus, in the years since then, police have stressed that Kate and Gerry are not suspects.

However, Amaral – who was taken off Madeleine’s case in October 2007 and retired from police work in general in 2008 – still believes Kate and Gerry were involved. He released a book called The Truth of the Lie in 2008 and in it, alleged that Maddie died in an accident the day of her disappearance and her parents hid the body.

Kate and Gerry have always maintained their innocence and successfully sued Amaral in 2015; he was ordered to pay the McCann’s €500,000 (roughly AU$774,435) in libel damages and had to remove his book from publication. However, in 2017, this ruling was overturned by Portuguese judges.

The McCann’s then appealed to the European Court of Human Rights but ultimately, in 2022, judges rejected the appeal and ruled in favour of Amaral.

Robert Murat

robert murat
(Credit: Getty)

An early potential suspect to emerge besides Madeleine’s parents was Robert Murat, a British-Portuguese man who lived near the resort where the McCann family was staying. Portuguese police initially claimed that he had acted suspiciously in the days following Madeleine’s disappearance.

However, in 2009, he was completely cleared of any involvement in the case. Not only this but Murat successfully sued multiple publications for wrongly linking him to Madeleine’s disappearance; he ended up winning £600,000 (roughly AU$1.04 million) in libel damages.

WATCH: The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann Netflix trailer

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Raymond Hewlett

Another suspect who garnered significant media attention was Raymond Hewlett, a British convicted paedophile who was living in Portugal at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.

Hewlett was interviewed by police in 2009, but he denied any involvement and passed away in 2010 without ever facing charges.

The unnamed suspect

man in hoodie
(Credit: Getty)

In 2013, the Portuguese police announced that they had identified a new suspect in the Madeleine McCann case: a man who had been seen in the area around the time of her disappearance.

This man, who has not been publicly named, was said to have been in the vicinity of the resort on several occasions, and his phone was found to have been active in the area on the night that Madeleine went missing. However, no arrests were made in connection with this lead.

WATCH: 10 years without Madeleine: Kate and Gerry McCann speak to the BBC

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Euclides Monteiro

In 2017, Euclides Monteiro was identified as a potential suspect. Portuguese police suggested that Monteiro, who at the time was employed at the resort where the McCanns were staying, may have kidnapped Madeleine as part of a burglary gone wrong.

This theory was later discredited, and Monteiro was cleared of any involvement in the case.

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