The prime suspect in Madeline McCann’s disappearance set up a sinister camp next to the next to a Portuguese reservoir to ‘cleanse himself’, it has emerged.
Christian Brueckner, 45, would camp in the Barragem do Arade reservoir – where cops last week searched for clues in Madeline’s case – for weekends or sometimes even a full week, witnesses told The Sun on Sunday.
The convicted rapist and paedophile is understood to have built a circle out of stones from the water, as well as edged a stone pathway to his lair.
He reportedly would set up a table and chair at his makeshift campsite and spend his time drinking beer, swimming in the lake and ‘cleansing himself’ in isolation.
Investigators searched the beauty spot for three days last week after German police found photos of Brueckner at his self-described ‘little paradise’. The site is about 30 miles from Praia da Luz holiday resort where Madeleine was snatched in May 2007.
Brueckner, who denies any involvement in the three-year-old’s disappearance, has still not been charged regarding her abduction as prosecutors do not have enough evidence.
Christian Brueckner, 45, would camp in the Barragem do Arade reservoir where cops last week searched for clues in Madeline McCann missing persons case. The convicted rapist and paedophile is understood to have built a circle out of stones from the water (pictured)
He reportedly would set up a table and chair at his makeshift campsite (pictured) and spend his time drinking beer, swimming in the lake and ‘cleansing himself’ in isolation
Brueckner also edged a stone pathway (pictured) to his lair, witnesses have alleged
The site is about 30 miles from Praia da Luz holiday resort where Madeleine McCann was snatched from her bed in May 2007
A former friend of Brueckner, who has lived on Algarve for nearly 30 years and has been helping police with their investigation, claims the criminal would visit the reservoir ‘often’ but was ‘always secretive about it’.
The German mother-of-three, whose identity has not been publicised, recalled how Brueckner would drive his camper-van to the edge of the lake because he ‘liked to be near the water’.
She claimed he always camped in the same location and ‘there was usually no one else around’.
‘This was his exact special spot that he said he liked to come to cleanse himself,’ she said of his campsite, telling The Sun: ‘I don’t know what he did there as he was very secretive.’
She alleged that he ‘drank a lot of beer’ while at the site and ‘washed himself and his clothes in the lake’.
She claimed he seemed to ‘like the silence’ of the isolated area and is ‘horrified to think what he really might have done down there’.
Details of Brueckner’s secret lair have come to light as a British couple told The Mail on Sunday how they spotted a bizarre ‘shrine’ to Madeleine in the reservoir just seven months after she vanished.
Christian Brueckner, (pictured) who denies any involvement in three-year-old Madeleine’s disappearance, has still not been charged regarding her abduction
The makeshift memorial (pictured here) was weighed down by a large rock and had a bouquet of flowers and a photograph of abducted Madeleine on it
Pictured: Three rocks in the Arade Reservoir in 2007 where a shrine was found. The flowers and tribute were left on the middle rock
BIG BREAKS IN THE MADELEINE MCCANN CASE… THAT HAVE LED US NO CLOSER TO FINDING HER: CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
Madeleine McCann disappeared from her family’s holiday apartment in 2007
The retired couple, who have asked to be named only as Ralf and Ann, were so disturbed by what they saw they took pictures and sent them to Portuguese detectives, thinking they were of significance but, amazingly, never heard back.
Consisting of boulders in the shape of an arrow pointing towards a picnic site which was dug over by police last week, the makeshift memorial was weighed down by a large rock and had a bouquet of flowers and a photograph of abducted Madeleine on it.
Three years ago – when prime suspect Christian Brueckner, 45, was identified by German police – the couple contacted detectives after seeing an appeal for anyone who was on holiday in the Algarve when Madeleine went missing in May 2007 to get in touch.
This time, the German officers from the BKA (criminal investigation unit) responded within hours of Ralf and Ann emailing them and quizzed them on the telephone for several hours before asking them to give a formal statement.
It raises the question whether it was their information that prompted the German authorities to request a search of the remote picnic area campsite on the edge of the reservoir near Silves, which Brueckner sinisterly used to call his ‘little paradise’.
Speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday from their holiday home, just a few minutes’ drive from the reservoir, retired builder Ralf and former bank cashier Ann described the bizarre find.
Ralf, 66, a father of two, said: ‘It was around Christmas 2007, so Madeleine had only gone missing a few months beforehand and I went down to the reservoir with Ann, our daughter, who was then 16, and the dog . . .
‘Our daughter ran on ahead of us and all of a sudden she just shouted to us, “Quick, come and look, someone must have died here.”
Three years ago prime suspect Christian Brueckner (pictured), 45, was identified by German police
Last week investigators cleared a large area of woodland at the Algarve reservoir and dug deep holes to collect samples, which have been sent for forensic and DNA testing in Germany
Scientists are expected to have initial results as early as this week but it is feared it could be months before a full analysis is completed. Pictured: Investigators at the Algarve on Thursday
‘When we got down, we noticed a row of stones stretching out into the water and on the last one there was a bouquet of fresh white lilies. We went out and had a look, and on the stone where the flowers were, there was a photograph of Madeleine.
‘There was no note or anything and it was all very strange.’
Ann, 67, said: ‘Thinking about it now gives me goosebumps because when we saw where the police were searching the past few days you could see that’s where the row of stones was pointing to.
‘Back then when we found it the whole thing was just so weird. At the time I thought, “has someone dumped Madeleine in the water and then come back to make a shrine in her memory?” It was so odd.’
The couple contacted Portuguese police to tell them of their discovery, sending them the photos, but heard nothing from them.
Strangely, when they returned just two days later, the flowers and photograph had vanished.
Ralf and Ann put the incident to the back of their mind but dug out the pictures three years ago after seeing news reports naming Brueckner as the prime suspect.
Speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday from their holiday home, just a few minutes’ drive from the reservoir, retired builder Ralf (pictured at the reservoir) and former bank cashier Ann described the bizarre find
Pictured is the shrine left for the three-year-old girl
Pictured are police searching the reservoir on Tuesday as part of the investigation
Ralf said: ‘I immediately contacted the BKA in Germany and told them what we had and I had a reply back within a few hours.
‘They wanted to know everything that we had seen and then they asked me to send them the pictures and they sent a map of the reservoir, asking me to point out where the stones were.
‘As the crow flies, it was just half a mile across the water from the picnic spot where the police were digging last week.
‘The German police were very interested in what we had and kept asking questions about why we were there, what we did for a living and then asked us to come to make a statement.’
Ann said: ‘They said they had been in the area a few months earlier but didn’t say why. They were keeping their cards very close to their chest. They asked us to come to Wiesbaden, where their headquarters are, as they were taking it very seriously and wanted to meet us in person.
‘Ralf couldn’t make it so I went on my own, and I was there for a good couple of hours going over what we had seen and showing them the photographs. We’ve had a holiday home in Portugal for years and have been going to the reservoir since the late 1990s, so we know it well and we then retired out here.’
The dam was first searched six months after the couple’s discovery, but only by lawyer Marcos Aragao Corriea, who funded two searches of the reservoir alongside the Spanish detective agency Metodo 3, who were hired by the McCann family.
Pictured: Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry in 2017
Madeleine McCann disappeared in 2007 while her parents were out for dinner
His hunt uncovered a bag of animal bones and a child’s sock but a full police search was never carried out – until last week.
It again raises questions about how the Portuguese police initially carried out their operation.
Patricia de Sousa Cipriano, head of the Association of Missing Children, said: ‘If these new searches at the Arade dam confirm flagrant errors in the investigation, then the Portuguese police has to justify itself and ensure it doesn’t happen again.’
Soil samples taken from the area searched last week have been sent to Germany for analysis, but sources suggest nothing of real significance was found.
The German prosecutor downplayed reports that a bra, clothing and other objects had been found.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk