After almost 13 years, German officials have announced a strong new suspect in the highly-publicised case of missing Madeleine McCann, and have reportedly told the parents that they have ‘concrete evidence’ of the child’s death.

Three-year-old Madeleine McCann, originally from Britain, went missing on May 3, 2007 while on holiday with her family in Portugal at a resort named Praia da Luz in the Algarve region. The parents had gone to dinner with family friends at a nearby restaurant and left the then three-year-old Madeleine along with her two-year-old twin siblings and the children of the friends alone, asleep in the apartment. The adults periodically checked in on the children, and discovered at about 10pm that Madeleine was gone. She has never been found and no one has been charged in connection with her disappearance.

The world was shocked by the disappearance, and many quickly took to blaming the parents for the child’s disappearance. Portuguese officials strongly suspected parents Gerry and Kate McCann were involved in their daughter’s disappearance but dropped the case in 2008 due to a lack of evidence.

According to CNN, The Metropolitan Police have spent £11.75m (R227 378 840) on a large-scale investigation known as Operation Grange to find the missing child.

UK authorities are offering a £20,000 (R386 732) reward for any information that will lead to the conviction of the guilty party.

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Madeleine would have turned 17 this year. This is what she could have looked like at nine years old:

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While interest remained over the years,  little evidence produced no strong leads. Fast forward 13 years, however, and this has changed. In early June 2020, German and British law officials announced that a 43-year-old German man is the lead suspect in the case, and is being investigated on suspicion of murder. The suspect is currently serving a prison sentence for an unrelated crime.

The German police have also reportedly told the McCann’s that they have ‘concrete evidence‘ that Madeleine is dead, although they have no forensic evidence to back this up. The prosecutor leading the investigation, named Hans Christian Wolters, wrote to the parents to explain that they cannot explain how they know this fact as it could jeapordise the investigation.

Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, have not been provided full details of the evidence either.

“We have concrete evidence that our suspect has killed Madeleine and this means she is dead. The parents have been told the German police have evidence that she is dead but we have not told them the details,” Wolters reportedly told The Sun.

“But we can’t say why she is dead,” Wolters told The Mirror. “It is more important that we are successful and we are able to get the culprit, as opposed to just putting our cards on the table and tell them why we think she might be.”

Parents Gerry and Kate have since made a statement denying that the police have reached out to them.

“Since the recent police appeals regarding Madeleine’s disappearance there have been many inaccurate stories reported in the media. The widely reported news that we have received a letter from the German authorities that states there is evidence or proof that Madeleine is dead is FALSE. Like many unsubstantiated stories in the media, this has caused unnecessary anxiety to friends and family and once again disrupted our lives,” they write on the official Find Madeleine website.

Those interested in knowing more about the case can watch the eight-episode special on Netflix, titled ‘The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann’.

Picture: Instagram/Official Find Madeleine

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