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Madeleine McCann: 13-year hunt for girl who vanished on Portuguese holiday

The disappearance of three-year-old British girl Madeleine McCann in Portugal in 2007 sparked a huge police investigation — and countless theories about what happened.

– Disappearance –

On May 3, 2007, Kate and Gerry McCann, from Leicestershire, central England, leave their three children asleep in their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, on the Algarve.

They dine with friends at a nearby restaurant and at about 10:00 pm Kate McCann checks on the children and finds Madeleine missing.

A friend of the family says they saw a man carrying a child earlier that night.

On May 14, Portuguese police make property developer Robert Murat an “arguido” — a formal suspect as their investigation continues.

On August 11, 100 days after the youngster disappeared, police say for the first time that she could be dead.

– Parents suspected –

In a dramatic move less than a month later, police, on September 7, declare the McCanns are also official suspects in their daughter’s disappearance.

Two days later the couple fly back to the UK with their two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie.

With little progress, Portuguese officers on July 21, 2008, decide to lift the “arguido” status on the McCanns and Murat.

Three years later, on May 12, 2011, Mrs McCann publishes a book about her daughter — on what would have been her eighth birthday.

At the same time, London’s Metropolitan Police launches a review of the case, supported by the British government.

In April 2012, Scotland Yard detectives say they believe Madeleine could still be alive and unveil a “picture” of how she might look as a nine-year-old.

They also call on the authorities in Portugal to re-open the case.

– UK probe –

On July 4, 2013, Scotland Yard launches it own investigation, “Operation Grange”, and says it has identified 38 people of interest.

Four months later, on October 24, Portuguese police announce they have new lines of inquiry and re-open their investigation.

By June 2014, detectives use sniffer dogs and specialist teams to search an area close to where Madeleine disappeared.

Later that year, on December 12, they declare they have begun questioning 11 people.

But with little hope of a breakthrough, Scotland Yard announces in October 2015 that it has reduced the numbers of detectives examining the disappearance from 29 to four.

The UK government reveals the investigation has cost more than £10 million.

On the 10-year anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance, her parents vow to do “whatever it takes, for as long as it takes” to find her.

– German suspect –

In May 2019, it was reported that Portuguese detectives were investigating a foreign paedophile as a potential suspect.

But it is not until the dramatic events of this week in Germany that there appears to be a major breakthrough.

On June 3, prosecutors say that a 43-year-old German prisoner has been identified as a suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.

A day later, the same prosecutors reveal they believe Madeleine is dead and are investigating the suspect — identified in local media as Christian B — on suspicion of her murder.