Detectives searching for Madeleine McCann investigate new tip off

Detectives searching for Madeleine McCann investigate new tip off about secret compound owned by suspect Christian Brueckner’s ex

  • The father of Nicole Fehlinger has revealed a compound in Portugal’s Algarve
  • It reportedly belonged to Fehlinger – the ex-girlfriend of chief McCann suspect
  • Prosecutors have reportedly confirmed the interview, according to The Mirror
  • They are now seriously considering examining the new lead, reports suggest

Detectives searching for Madeline McCann are investigating a new tip off about a secret compound owned by the ex-girlfriend of chief suspect Christian Brueckner.

The father of Nicole Fehlinger – Dieter – reportedly told the German equivalent of the FBI about the compound  in Portugal’s Algarve when he went back to visit officers for a second time to give a lengthy interview.

Prosecutors have reportedly confirmed the interview, according to The Mirror, and are now seriously examining the new lead.

Detectives searching for Madeline McCann are investigating a new tip off about a secret compound owned by the ex-girlfriend of chief suspect Christian Brueckner – Nicole Fehlinger (pictured)

Madeline went missing from her family’s holiday home in Praia da Luz, Portugal in May 2007, a matter of days before fer fourth birthday. She has never been found.

Ms Fehlinger lived in Portugal at the time with Brueckner, 44, who has since been identified by German police as the chief suspect in the girl’s disappearance.

Now, Mr Fehlinger has reportedly told investigators that his daughter had a secret compound in the Algarve that no one else knew about.

He added that it was guarded by three Kangal Shepherd Dogs, known for having one of the most powerful bites among dog breeds. 

According to The Mirror, Mr Fehlinger said: ‘No one knows that my daughter not only had the private residence in Portugal at her disposal, but also a separate compound.

‘No-one has ever searched there or the property has never turned up in connection with Maddie, Brueckner or Nicole.

‘It’s an overgrown property of over 5,000 square metres. It was a secure area, enclosed with fencing and four aggressive Kangal dogs were there day and night.’


Detectives searching for Madeline McCann (left( are investigating a new tip off about a secret compound owned by the ex-girlfriend of chief suspect Christian Brueckner (right)

The father of Nicole Fehlinger – Dieter – reportedly told the German equivalent of the FBI about the compound (pictured, Google Street View) in Portugal’s Algarve 

Mr Fehlinger has reportedly told investigators that his daughter had a secret compound in the Algarve that no one else knew about. He added that it was guarded by three Kangal Shepherd Dogs, known for having one of the most powerful bites among dog breeds

The disappearance of Madeleine McCann

Madeleine McCann, known as Maddie, disappeared from a holiday apartment in Portugal’s Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007.

She was on holiday with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann; her two-year-old twin siblings; and a group of family friends and their children.

She and the twins had been left asleep at the apartment, while the McCanns and friends dined in a restaurant 55 metres (180 ft) away.

The parents checked on the children throughout the evening, until Kate discovered she was missing at 10pm.

What followed is widely regarded as one of the most reported on missing person investigations in the world.

Portuguese authorities closed their enquiries in July 2008 but Maddie’s parents continued with private detectives.

Scotland Yard launched their own investigation – Operation Grange – in 2011 and enquiries are ongoing.

The area was so overgrown, Mr Fehlinger reportedly said, that no one would be able to get in or out, other than his daughter and perhaps her then-boyfriend.  

The secret compound is said to be found very near the house where Ms Fehlinger lived on the Algarve, and around 38 miles from Praia da Luz.

According to The Mirror Ms Fehlinger, a mother of three, was involved in a fostering programme in Portugal for troubled German youths. There is no suggestion that she is in anyway involved in the disappearance of Madeleine.

German police have said they are only investigating Brueckner in relation to the case of Madeleine. He is currently serving prison time in Germany after being convicted of other offences, including rape.

Last year, Brueckner was named as the prime suspect in the case by German prosecutors after phone records suggested he was in the resort the night she disappeared.

Brueckner – also a convicted paedophile – earlier this month claimed the investigation into him was ‘scandalous’ and condemned prosecutors who ‘brought shame to the legal system,’ in a letter obtained by German newspaper Bild.

It was accompanied by a strange sketch which depicts two prosecutors ordering food at a restaurant. They have speech bubbles over their heads, with one saying, ‘I’ll take the filet forensics,’ and the other replying, ‘Yummy, me too.’

It may refer to the lead prosecutor Hans Wolter’s previous admission that there was no forensic evidence against Bruckner in the McCann case.

Ms Fehlinger and Bruckner were in a relationship for two years after they met in a bar. According to court documents in Portugal, they spoke regularly on the phone and shared a weekend break together in Lisbon months after Madeleine vanished.

It is unclear if the pair rekindled their relationship when they were both in Germany again in 2012. 

Brueckner lived in the Algarve for much of the period from 1995 to 2007, and German prosecutors say he received a phone call from a Portuguese number around the time of Madeleine’s disappearance in May 2007. 

He made a living doing odd jobs in the area where Madeleine disappeared, and was also known to have burgled hotel rooms and holiday flats.  

What do we know about Maddie murder suspect Christian Brueckner and his criminal past?

Sex criminal Christian Brueckner

1976: Christian Brueckner is born in Würzburg under a different name, believed to be Fischer. He was adopted by the Brueckner family and took their surname.

1992: Christian Brueckner is arrested on suspicion of burglary in his hometown of Wurzburg, Bavaria.

1994: He is given a two-year sentence for ‘abusing a child’ and ‘performing sex acts in front of a child’.

1995: Brueckner arrives in Portugal as an 18-year-old backpacker and begins working in catering in the seaside resorts of Lagos and Praia da Luz. 

But friends say he became involved with a criminal syndicate trafficking drugs into the Algarve.

September 2005:  He dons a mask and breaks into an apartment where a 72-year-old American tourist.

The victim was bound, gagged, blindfolded and whipped with a metal cane before being raped for 15 minutes. She said afterwards that he had clearly enjoyed ‘torturing’ her before the rape.

April 2007: He moves out of a farmhouse and into a campervan linked to the crime. The farmhouse is cleaned and a bag of wigs is found.

May 3, 2007: Madeleine McCann is snatched at around 10pm from her bed as her parents eat tapas with friends yards away.

Brueckner’s mobile phone places him in the area that night.   He returns to his native Germany shortly after that. 

October 2011: He is sentenced to 21 months for ‘dealing narcotics’ in Niebüll, in northern Germany. 

2014: He moves to Braunschweig where he starts running a town-centre kiosk. He then goes back to Portugal with a girlfriend.

2016: He is back in Germany. He is given 15 months in prison for ‘sexual abuse of a child in the act of creating and possessing child pornographic material’. 

May 3, 2017: Brueckner is said to be in a bar with a friend when a ten-year anniversary appeal following Madeleine’s disappearance is shown on German television. He is said to have told him in a bar that he ‘knew all about’ what happened to her. He then showed his friend a video of him raping a woman.

MailOnline understands the friend went to police shortly afterwards.

June 2017: He heads back to Portugal and extradited again to Germany. The reason was a sentencing of the Braunschweig district court to 15 months’ imprisonment for the sexual abuse of a child. 

August 2018: After his release from prison he lives on the streets. But he was jailed again for drug offences. 

First Prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters addresses the media on the Madeleine McCann case in Braunschweig

September 2018: Brueckner is arrested in Italy and extradited to Germany and put on trial for raping an American in 2007 after a DNA match was found at the crime scene.

July 2019: He is jailed for 21 months for drug dealing in the northern German resort of Sylt.

August 2019: Brueckner  is charged with the rape of the American tourist in Praia da Luz in 2005.

December 2019: He is convicted of rape of extortion of the tourist based on DNA evidence. He is given a seven year sentence, but this has not been imposed pending an appeal. 

June 3, 2020: Scotland Yard and the German police reveal that that they have identified a suspect in the Maddie McCann case

June 4, 2020: Prosecutors in Braunschweig, where he lives, say they believe Madeleine McCann has been murdered, says spokesman Hans Christian Wolters. He is named in the German press as the prime suspect.

November 19, 2020: Brueckner loses his parole bid and must complete the remaining time of his jail term behind bars, German court rules.

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