His face has been around the world and he wakes up the most terrible nightmare of any parent: the disappearance of a child. Almost 4-year-old Maddie vanished to Portugal, in the room she shared with her younger brother and sister in the seaside resort of Praia Da Luz in May 2007. That evening, her doctor parents went out for dinner alone with friends, leave the children unsupervised but take turns every half hour to make sure everything is okay.
Everything was fine until they discovered their little girl’s empty bed. It is immediately the commotion, an unprecedented police deployment, a region combed through, enormous media coverage, Interpol on the spot, false leads peeled and… nothing. No trace of the kid. Gerry and Kate will even be suspected of having killed their daughter and of having made up the murder. They will be whitewashed but not quite in public opinion.
This accusation added to their pain, however, will never affect their determination. Gerry and Kate have moved heaven and earth, written a book, aged Maddie’s photo in hopes of finding her. They even made an investment fund grow to provide themselves with the means to relaunch the investigations the day the police would completely abandon the case.
A German pedophile
They didn’t need to tap into it. In June 2020, the German police announced that they had a more than serious suspect in their sights. He is a multi-recidivist pedophile detained in a prison in the north of the country for the rape of a septuagenarian and who resided in the region where Maddie disappeared at that time. In April 2022, the Portuguese Public Ministry announced the indictment of this individual.
Christian B. has a well-stocked criminal record behind him. It is not of age that he is already charged with child rape. By chaining odd jobs in the catering industry and going back and forth between Germany and Portugal, he multiplies thefts, burglaries and drug trafficking. Her name appeared in the Maddie investigation in 2008, but was quickly dismissed. In 2017, Scotland Yard spotted that this sex offender had his license plate deregistered the day after Maddie disappeared, and investigators came across one of his USB drives containing child pornography. Christian B. never confessed and the police made it clear to the parents that Maddie was indeed dead.
How could such a psychopath have spent so long between the cracks of the finest sleuths? What elements could have allowed such a rebound? This documentary by a brilliant and very popular British journalist answers these two main questions. Julie Etchingham presented the JT, comments on the highlights of the country and is a bit of the English Elise Lucet. As soon as she got wind of a new suspect, she conducted her own investigation involving law enforcement from several countries. His work provides several answers to the riddle.
“Crimes and clues”, August 24, 8:20 p.m., front page.