May 26, 2023 | 9:34 am
A three-day police search of a remote Portuguese reservoir has reportedly turned up a “relevant lead” in the 2007 disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann.
On Thursday, Portuguese authorities ended their search of the Algarve reservoir about 30 miles from the resort of Praia da Luz, where the 3-year-old girl was last seen alive 16 years ago.
German sex offender Christian Brückner, 45 – jailed in his home country for an unrelated case – is said to have visited the reservoir “a few days” after Madeleine’s disappearance.
Portuguese judicial police are tight-lipped about the outcome of the search, which included sniffer dogs, digging equipment, a drone and a tree cutter, saying the effort “resulted in the collection of some materials that will be subject to competent expertise. The collected materials will be handed over to the German authorities.
The Portuguese newspaper Correio de Manha (Morning Mail) reported that during the search the police came across a “relevant lead”, but it is not known what it was.
Several items were reportedly recovered from the Barragem do Arade dam area, including a bra strap, pieces of fabric and plastic items, but it was unclear if they were related to Madeleine’s case, the Mirror reported.
Police are reportedly searching for a gun and a video camera said to have belonged to Bruckner – and were stolen and then dumped by two of his former associates in a petty crime gang.
According to a prison informant, the video camera is believed to contain footage of Bruckner torturing and raping an American woman and a teenage girl, the Daily Mail reported.
The latest manhunt came at the request of German authorities and involved Portuguese, German and British detectives.
Work crews leveled an area of 160 square meters and dug holes 2 feet deep. Additional holes have been dug closer to the reservoir, which is less than half full due to drought.
German prosecutor Christian Wolters said authorities would assess the outcome and could make a statement as early as next week.
In 2020, German authorities named Brückner, who was in the Algarve in 2007, as a suspect in the toddler’s murder, but he was not charged and denied involvement.
Brückner is serving a seven-year prison sentence in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in Portugal in 2005.
The little girl’s disappearance attracted worldwide attention, spawning several true-crime books and documentaries.
Police investigators in three countries are still trying to figure out exactly what happened the night Madeline disappeared from her bed on May 3, 2007. She was sharing a room at the Praia da Luz resort with her 2-year-old twin siblings while the children’s parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, were having dinner with friends at a nearby restaurant.
When Kate went to check on the children around 10pm, she found a window open and Madeleine gone.
Earlier this month, the McCanns shared a heartbreaking tribute to their missing daughter on what would have been her 20th birthday.
“Happy birthday Madeleine! We love you and we are waiting for you. We will never give up,” they wrote on Facebook.