Hundreds of tips have poured into British police in the days after a new suspect was identified in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann as authorities in Germany are investigating if the man may have been involved in a similar crime.
Authorities have not released the suspect’s name, but he has been widely identified by the German media as a 43-year-old Christian B, a convicted German child sex offender.
The suspect spent numerous years in Portugal, including in Praia da Luz around the time of McCann’s disappearance, and has two previous convictions for “sexual contact with girls.”
“The Op Grange team have had just short of 400 pieces of information through, in calls and emails,” a British police spokesman told Britain’s Press Association on Sunday
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Operation Grange is the investigation into the 2007 case involving McCann, the then-3-year-old girl who vanished while her family vacationed in the seaside town of Praia da Luz in Portugal’s Algarve region.
German police said last week they believe that McCann is dead, but her parents Kate and Gerry McCann said on their website they were holding out hope.
“All we have ever wanted is to find her, uncover the truth and bring those responsible to justice,” the couple wrote on their website. “We will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive, but whatever the outcome may be, we need to know as we need to find peace.”
Their spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, echoed the couple’s hope the new development will result in them finding their daughter alive.
“They certainly will be encouraged to know the appeal is yielding results already and hopefully within that, there will be crucial bits of information the police can act upon,” he said Friday, according to Sky News.
The Sunday Times reported the 43-year-old suspect has been placed under surveillance in jail in hopes he will eventually confess to a fellow prisoner.
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German police said the suspect in the McCann disappearance, described as white with short, blond hair and a slim build, was linked to a camper van seen in Portugal’s Algarve region in 2007.
The Mail on Sunday newspaper reported that a witness claimed to have seen Madeleine getting into a German-owned VW van with a man just weeks after her disappearance.
Christian Hoppe of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office told German public broadcaster ZDF the suspect in the McCann case lived between Lagos and nearby Praia da Luz and was regularly in the Algarve region from 1995 to 2007.
The suspect’s description fits that of a 43-year-old man who was convicted in December in the city of Braunschweig of the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old American woman in her apartment in Portugal that was based largely on DNA evidence, according to the Associated Press.
The suspect denied the charges during his trial and has appealed his conviction.
According to a copy of the rape verdict obtained by the AP that had all the names redacted, the German man was a career criminal who was in and out of jail.
His crimes included the sexual abuse of a child in 1994 when he would have been around 17 and was tried in youth court, as well as a 2016 case in which he was convicted of abusing another child and of possession of child pornography. Other convictions include drug trafficking, burglary, and weapons violations.
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German prosecutors in the northern town of Stendal, located about 60 miles west of Berlin, told the dpa news agency on Friday they had opened a preliminary investigation to determine whether there was anything to link the suspect to the 2015 disappearance of a 5-year-old girl from a nearby forest.
The 43-year-old is reported to have had at one time property 60 miles southwest of Stendal in the town of Neuwegersleben when that girl disappeared.
Fox News’ Greg Norman, Nick Givas, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.