Eleven years before the disappearance of British child Madeleine McCann gained worldwide attention, another little blonde boy went missing from a nearby Portuguese village.
His name is René Hasee, and he was last seen in 1996.
The then-six-year-old from Elsdorf, Germany, was holidaying in Portugal with his mum and her new partner. Like the McCanns, they were staying in a small seaside town in the Algarve region, where Europeans flock in the summer to lay on white beaches and party at the many resorts and bars.
It was there, in Aljezur, just 40km from the Praia da Luz Ocean Club where Maddie’s parents were dining the night she disappeared, that René ran ahead of his family and towards the ocean during a walk along the beach.
The last they of saw René on June 21, 1996, were his clothes found at the shoreline. He was never seen again.
WATCH: A news snippet reporting on the new suspect in the Madeleine McCann case. Post continues after video.
Now, almost 25 years after the boy’s disappearance, René’s family have been contacted by German authorities about a possible connection between his case and that of Madeleine McCann, following investigations into a new suspect in her disappearance.
Why? Because that suspect, named by German prosecutors only as Christian B, is believed to have been living and working along the Algarve coast that same year.
The 43-year-old German man, described as white with short-blond hair, was already a convicted paedophile at the time. In 1994, aged just 17, he’d been found guilty of child sex offences in his homeland. The Guardian UK reports the man then fled to Portugal the following year and remained in the area until he returned to Germany in 1999 to serve out his two-year sentence.
It’s believed Christian B then returned to Portugal, where he lived in a house between Lagos and Praia da Luz “more or less permanently” between 1997 and 2007. He would have been 19 at the time René disappeared.