The prime suspect in the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann is being investigated for possible involvement in a similar crime in Germany, prosecutors said Friday.
Five-year-old Inga G. from Schoenebeck disappeared from a forest in the northern town of Stendal, around 60 miles west of Germany’s capital Berlin, on May 2, 2015, almost eight years to the day after Madeleine went missing on May 3, 2007.
Authorities have not released the suspect’s name in the Inga G. case, but he has been widely identified by the German media as Christian B. His last name was not released because of German privacy rules. NBC News has not been able to confirm this.
Christian B. has also been named as the main suspect in the McCann case.
“It is being assessed whether there is a connection between the two cases,” a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office in the city of Stade, told NBC News.
They added that were he to be linked to Inga G’s disappearance “he could also become the accused in the proceedings here.”
Madeleine was staying with her parents Gerry and Kate McCann and her younger twin siblings in a holiday apartment when she vanished from the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz 13 years ago.
Her parents had put the children to bed and went out to eat at restaurant around 200 feet away. She vanished in the few hours they were gone.
Her disappearance sparked an international search, with missing posters of the little girl’s face papered across the world and celebrity appeals for information that could help track her down and bring her abductors to justice.
Portuguese police closed the investigation in 2008, but after two years of reviewing case documents, London police reopened the case, which has transfixed Britain, in July 2013. They have since spent the equivalent of millions of dollars trying to find her, but no one has been charged and there have been no confirmed sightings.
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Announcing the new suspect on Wednesday London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement that they had “established that he lived on and off in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007,” and that he was “connected to the area of Praia da Luz.”
The case was being treated as a suspected murder, German police said in a statement Thursday, adding they had determined the method used to kill McCann. No body has ever been found.
The suspect — who is currently imprisoned in Germany on unrelated offences — has a number of convictions for child sexual abuse, the statement said. It added that he was also thought to have earned his living “by committing criminal offences, such as burglaries of hotel complexes and holiday apartments as well as trafficking in narcotic drugs.”
Both British and German police appealed for information about the man and released photographs of vehicles — a Volkswagen camper van and a Jaguar — which he used at the time.
The public prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig is investigating, Braunschweig state prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters said Thursday.
“We assume that the girl is dead,” he added.
A McCann family spokesman told NBC News that the suspect’s identification “does feel more significant” than previous announcements about the case.