Madeleine McCann: New Clues Offer Hope

Jennifer Deutschmann

Three-year-old Madeleine McCann vanished without a trace on May 3, 2007. Six years later, Scotland Yard officials have identified a new suspect. Authorities said the man broke into numerous vacation homes between 2004 and 2006. Officials believe he is a local, who preyed on families vacationing in Portugal.

Within a period of five years, the man broke into at least four villas and sexually assaulted five little girls in their beds. As Madeleine vanished in the middle of the night, authorities suspect the same man is responsible for her disappearance.

In 2007, the McCann family was vacationing at the Praia de Luz resort in Algarve, Portugal. While the children slept, Kate and Gerry McCann joined several friends for dinner and drinks. Although they were outside, they were less than 200 feet away from the front door of their villa.

Kate returned to the villa numerous times to check on the children. However, at approximately 10:00 pm, she discovered Madeleine was missing. Authorities launched an extensive search of the resort and the surrounding region. Unfortunately, Madeleine McCann was never found.

Early in the investigation, Kate and Gerry were identified as suspects. However, they were eventually cleared of involvement. With few clues, Portugal's Attorney General closed the case in July 2008. Although the case was closed, the McCanns were not willing to give up.

The family eventually hired private detectives to investigate the case. Numerous leads and sightings lead to dead ends. However, the McCanns were relentless in the search for information about their daughter's disappearance.

In 2011, the Kate and Gerry McCann finally convinced British authorities to launch their own investigation. In 2013, authorities in Portugal reopened their investigation in cooperation with Scotland Yard.

Although the identity of the new suspect is unknown, authorities noted several distinct attributes. The man is believed to be a local, who specifically preys on young white girls under the age of 10. The suspect is described a tanned with dark hair and a "pot belly." Several victims noted that the man "had a noticeable odor."

The man spoke English. However, he had a noticeable accent. The victims said his speech pattern was "slow or possibly slurred."

As reported by ABC News, all five victims described the same man. Unfortunately, the identity of the suspect remains unknown.

Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector Redwood said "there is no clear, definitive proof that Madeleine McCann is dead." The inspector believes "there is a possibility that she is alive. If she is alive, Madeleine McCann is now 11 years old.

[Images via ABC News and]