Madeleine McCann: 47-Year-Old German Man Identified As Prime Suspect, Marking Huge Break In Case

A 47-year-old German man who had previously been under investigation in the Madeleine McCann case has been upgraded to being the prime suspect in a breakthrough announcement. Though the U.K.'s Metropolitan Police has yet to reveal the decision behind the bulletin, parents Kate and Gerry McCann have reportedly called it the "biggest development... since their little girl went missing," per The Telegraph.

It is not just the McCanns who consider the announcement major news. Senior police officers themselves have called the breakthrough "significant." In an appeal to the public, they have asked for more information about the suspect, particularly concerning his whereabouts and activities around May 2007, which is when Madeleine disappeared.

The McCann case, which centered around how 3-year-old Madeleine went missing from the rented vacation home in Portimao in southern Portugal during a family holiday, dominated global headlines when it first broke 13 years ago.

Scotland Yard Released A Statement On The Suspect

a sign featuring Madeleine McCann
Getty Images | Shaun Botterill

"Met detectives working with German authorities have identified a man currently imprisoned in Germany as a suspect in Madeleine's disappearance," the authorities wrote, via the Met Police website.

"This man is white and in 2007 is believed to have had short blond hair, possibly fair. He was about 6ft in height with a slim build. He is 43-years-old, but in 2007 may have looked between 25 to early 30s. We have established that he lived on and off in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007. He is connected to the area of Praia da Luz and surrounding regions, and spent some short spells in Germany."
The statement concluded with the announcement that they would not identify the man and that he was currently in prison in Germany for an "unrelated" incident.

However, authorities -- who made the appeal on German television -- are reportedly hoping that a description of the suspect will be enough to encourage anyone with tips to contact law enforcement.

In addition to the description, police also took the unusual step of releasing the man's then-telephone number and information about the vehicles he had been using at the time, which included a 1993 Jaguar saloon car and a white Volkswagen camper van with beige trim from the early 1980s.

The German Man Was First Unveiled Last Year As A 'Pedophile And Child Killer'

kate and gerry McCann are photographed in a living room
Getty Images | Joe Giddens
Kate and Gerry McCann

Though police are currently not naming the man, one potential suspect has been named as Martin Ney, as reported just over a year ago by The Inquisitr.

Ney was described as a "German child sex fiend killer" and was found guilty in 2012 of abducting and killing three children. There are additional reports that he abused many more and confessed to a cellmate about killing a fourth.

He is currently spending a life sentence in jail.

Scotland Yard has coordinated with German and Portuguese authorities to investigate the matter in what has been called a "huge amount of work."

Meanwhile, Kate and Gerry McCann have expressed their happiness that some closure might be on the horizon.

"All we have ever wanted is to find her, uncover the truth and bring those responsible to justice," they said in a statement, also thanking the public for the outpouring of support.