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14 years ago, Kate and Gerry McCann's daughter Maddie vanished. This is their life now.

At around 8.30pm on May 3, 2007, Kate and Gerry McCann left their three sleeping children in their holiday apartment in the quiet Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz and headed out for dinner.

They thought that Madeleine, three, and 18 month old twins, Sean and Amelie, would be safe just 83 metres from where they were dining at a tapas restaurant with the group of friends they were holidaying with.

Throughout the evening, the adults took it in turns to check on the kids.

At 10pm, it was Kate McCann’s turn.

When she arrived at apartment 5A, she knew immediately something was wrong.

Madeleine was gone.

What happened next is well documented. The story of the blonde toddler’s disappearance became a global news story.

when did madeleine mccann disappear
Madeline McCann went missing in 2007. Image: Getty.

Now, nearly 14 years on from the toddler's disappearance, Kate and Gerry McCann have not given up hope that their daughter will be found.

Writing on the Official Find Madeleine Campaign Facebook page, the McCanns farewelled 2020 saying it was a year they "don’t want to remember but will find it hard to forget". It comes as the couple have now endured their 14th Christmas without their daughter. 

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"There’s no doubt that 2020 has been tough for most people, and often distressing, with so much loss, worry and isolation," the couple wrote. "Despite losing a parent each, we are aware we have been more fortunate than many, with our family unit at home and jobs to go to."

They added that the coronavirus pandemic has affected the enquiry into their daughter's vanishing. 

"Understandably, the investigation to find Madeleine has been forced to slow down as a result of the pandemic. It hasn’t stopped however and the hope, energy and determination to find her and uncover the truth remain steadfast.

"Let’s hope 2021 is a brighter, more positive one," they concluded their post. 

In June 2020, news broke of a new suspect in the missing case - a German national currently in prison for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old American woman.

It was reported by the UK tabloids that German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters had informed the McCanns their daughter was dead via a letter.

Speaking to the MirrorWolters said: "We, of course, really consider the fact that it is going to be very hard for the family when we tell them we assume Madeleine is dead. But we can't say why she is dead.

"It is more important that we are successful and we are able to get the culprit, as opposed to just putting our cards on the table and tell them why we think she might be."

In a statement published on their website, Kate and Gerry claimed the media reports were inaccurate, denying they'd received any such letter or correspondence from German authorities.

"Like many unsubstantiated stories in the media, this has caused unnecessary anxiety to friends and family and once again disrupted our lives," the statement read.

In 2019, a Netflix documentary, The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, recounted the chain of events in detail, and offered several theories as to what may have happened to Madeleine, who would now be  almost 17.

Kate and Gerry McCann refused to take part in the program, stating that it could impede the ongoing police investigation.

The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann trailer. Post continues after video.


Video by Netflix
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In a statement on their website, they said: “We did not see and still do not see how this programme will help the search for Madeleine and particularly given there is an active police investigation, could potentially hinder it.”

In May 2020, Kate and Gerry McCann marked 13 years since Madeleine went missing.

"It is now 13 years since we were last with Madeleine," they wrote on their official Facebook page. 

"Her 17th birthday is to follow in the next couple of weeks - the latter tangibly, painfully, bringing it home to us what we have missed and continue to miss as a family.

"It shows how easy it is to become complacent with our lives and circumstances, albeit a totally normal and understandable, human characteristic."

Alongside a photo of Madeleine taken shortly before her disappearance, the couple added in May:

"The investigation to find Madeleine remains open and continues, even though, in a way different to the ideal. We remain grateful for the ongoing efforts and commitment from all those involved in the search to find her and we hope and pray, as always, that our efforts will be fruitful.

"Thank you to everyone still offering their support and good wishes for Madeleine and ourselves. Such solidarity continues to strengthen us. Thank you."

One month later, in June 2020, police announced news of their prime suspect.

Christian Brueckner, 43, is understood to have been in the area at the time Maddie went missing, and a phone call was made to his Portuguese mobile phone around an hour before it's believed she went missing.

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Christian Brueckner mug shot
The image was taken in 2018 in Milan where Brueckner was arrested and extradited to Germany for the rape he is currently imprisoned for. Image: Carabinieri Milano via Getty.

The next day, he de-registered the car he was driving at the time, putting it under someone else's name.

A statement from Madeleine's parents, read by Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell, welcomed the new police appeal.

"All we have ever wanted is to find her, uncover the truth and bring those responsible to justice," the McCann's statement said.

"We will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive, but whatever the outcome may be, we need to know as we need to find peace."

READ: A “horrible job to do” and terrified exes: What we know about the Madeleine McCann suspect Christian Brueckner.

Who are Madeleine McCann's parents? 

Kate McCann (neé Healey) was born in 1968 in Huyton, near Liverpool. She graduated in 1992 with a degree in medicine from the University of Dundee. Gerry McCann, born the same year as Kate, was also a medical scholar, in Glasgow. After working in obstetrics and gynaecology, Kate became a GP. Gerry worked in sports medicine before moving into cardiology.

The couple, described by friends as "inseparable," met while working as junior doctors at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow.

They married in 1998 and had their first child, Madeleine, in 2003 after IVF treatment. Twins Sean and Amelie followed two years later. The family moved to Rothey in Leicestershire, when Gerry got a job as a consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital in 2005.

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Did the McCanns split up after Madeleine McCann went missing? 

While the McCann's never actually split up, Kate has spoken about how close their relationship came to breaking point. In her book, Madeleine, Kate talks about how she withdrew into herself after Madeleine's disappearance, ceasing to read, play music, or even have sex with husband Gerry.

She said that the fears a paedophile had taken Maddie very much played into that.

Kate wrote: "Tortured as I was by these images, it's not surprising that even the thought of sex repulsed me.

"I worried about Gerry and me.

"I worried that if I didn't get our sex life on track our whole relationship would break down."

She also recalled how supportive Gerry was during the darkest days of their lives "He would put his arm round me, reassuring me and telling me that he loved me," she wrote.

Kate McCann, 52, and Gerry McCann, 53, remain together and continue to fight for information about Madeleine's disappearance.

In 2014, Kate told the BBC that she has returned to Praia da Luz on several occasions.

"I do go back for personal reasons," she said. "It’s obviously the last place we were with Madeleine and I still walk those streets and I guess try and look for answers. It helps me, most of the time."

After Madeleine vanished, Kate quit her job as a GP to work for children's charities. Gerry McCann is now a professor of cardiology and prides himself on having “established a national and growing international reputation as an expert in Cardiac MRI (magnetic reasoning imaging)” – or scanning, as reported by The Sun.

The McCann's have used AUD $308,000 made from sales of Kate's book about their daughter to continue the search for the little girl.

Their twin siblings, Amelie and Sean are now 14.

For more on this topic:

Feature Image: Getty.

This article was updated on January 4, 2021.


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