16 years ago, three-year-old girl Madeleine “Maddie” McCann disappeared in Portugal. A German is suspected of murder. A chronology.
So far all traces had gone in the sand. But Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of the missing “Maddie” pushed the investigation forward again and again. They have been in the dark about their daughter’s fate for 16 years. Now, at the instigation of German authorities, the area on a lake in Portugal has been searched “because of new developments”. The Braunschweig public prosecutor said that the evaluation of the finds will show whether the objects found can substantiate the suspicion against a 46-year-old German for the murder of her daughter.
May 3, 2007: Three-year-old Madeleine “Maddie” McCann disappears from a hotel room at the luxury resort in Praia da Luz, on Portugal’s Algarve coast. Parents Kate and Gerry McCann, two British doctors, were about 50 meters away having dinner. They left their three children sleeping in the holiday apartment.
May 7, 2007: On British television, Kate McCann begs possible kidnappers to release the child. The parents are addressing the public with a media campaign. Photos of the girl, shortly before her fourth birthday, go around the world. Celebrities are offering four million euros as a reward for information.
May 14, 2007 : Portuguese police arrest a first suspect. He denies the allegations.
May 30, 2007: On the fringes of a general audience at the Vatican, Kate and Gerry McCann speak with the Pope. Benedict XVI blesses the parents and a photograph of the missing girl.
June 2007: With the efforts of the parents to involve the international public in the search, criticism of this approach is growing.
August 5, 2007: Body-sniffing dogs are said to have uncovered clues that indicate Madeleine died in the hotel room. Investigators assume that the child died in the apartment. The investigators are now concentrating on the parents and their acquaintances.
September 6, 2007: Kate and Gerry McCann are now officially suspects. According to media reports, the police assume that it was an “accident”. The parents would have made the body disappear.
December 2007: By the end of the year, witnesses said they saw Madeleine McCann in Portugal, Morocco, Malta and Belgium. Police investigations with identikit images yield nothing.
March 2008: Several British tabloids have apologized to the McCann family for reports blaming them for the disappearance and death of Madeleine and are paying compensation to Kate and Gerry McCann.
July 21, 2008: The Portuguese police stopped the investigation after 14 months without any result. There is no evidence of a crime. The parents are no longer classified as suspects, but the case has not yet been closed.
January 2009: Kate and Gerry McCann hire a team of former Scotland Yard investigators to find their daughter.
May 2009: Two years after Madeleine’s disappearance, her parents beg possible kidnappers to release their daughter. They appear on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show in the United States, which is watched by millions of viewers. British media release new images created by forensic experts showing the child’s suspected current appearance.
March 2011: Kate and Gerry McCann unsuccessfully protest against the sale of a book written about the case by former Portuguese chief investigator Gonçalo Amaral. In essence, he represents the thesis that the child died in 2007 in the family’s holiday hotel in Portugal and was not kidnapped. The parents had something to do with the disappearance.
May 2011: Kate McCann is publishing a book with her version of the story. British Prime Minister David Cameron announced new investigations. The team examines a total of 30,500 documents over two years.
April 25, 2012: British police say Madeleine McCann may still be alive. There are indications of gaps in the investigation.
2013 : The German, who is now suspected of the crime, is being questioned by the investigators for the first time. He was reported to the police, but there was insufficient evidence to arrest him.
October 2013: The Portuguese authorities are resuming the investigation. There are new indications.
June 2014: A renewed search for traces of the missing girl on three vacant lots near the Portuguese resort where Madeleine McCann disappeared yields no clues.
April 2017: The British police have not given up hope of solving the case. Four officers from Scotland Yard are still involved in the investigation. Kate and Gerry McCann say they will continue to do everything they can to find their daughter in an interview with the BBC.
October 2017: The Scotland Yard special commission “Operation Grange”, which has been dealing with the disappearance of the girl for six years, has a new lead, according to media reports.
April 2019: Netflix publishes a documentary about the case – without the participation of Kate and Gerry McCann. The couple then faced hostilities. In return, they accuse the makers of the documentary of obstructing the investigation with their series.
March 27, 2020: British investigators are requesting additional funding to continue investigating Madeleine McCann’s whereabouts.
June 3, 2020: The Federal Criminal Police Office announces that a 43-year-old German sex offender who is in custody has been identified as a suspect. A murder investigation is underway against the man who lived in the Algarve in 2007.
May 25, 2023: Police officers from Germany, Great Britain and Portugal have been searching the area around Lake Arade in Portugal for three days. Items possibly related to Madeleine McCann’s disappearance are secured. According to the public prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig, the evaluation of the objects will show to what extent they are actually related to Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.