Inga Gehricke vanished from Diakoniewerk Wilhelmshof in Saxony-Anhalt during a family outing in a case that detectives have been unable to solve ever since.
Her disappearance on May 2, 2015 happened just 48 miles away from where new Maddie suspect Christian Brueckner owned a house in Neuwegersleben at the time.
Inga Gehricke vanished from Diakoniewerk Wilhelmshof in Saxony-Anhalt during a family outing on May 2, 2015 in an case that detectives have been unable to solve ever since
Christian Brueckner (left), 43, is now the prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann (right), who vanished from her family’s holiday apartment in Portugal on May 3, 2007
Inga has often been labelled the German equivalent of Madeleine, who went missing aged three during a family holiday on the Algarve in Portugal on May 3, 2007.
Now, it has emerged that police investigated Brueckner, 43, in February 2016 over the disappearance of Inga, according to Saxony-Anhalt newspaper Volksstimme.
Detectives discovered a device at his home containing child pornography and it has been claimed he had no alibi for the day in question when Inga went missing.
But it appears no further action was taken against him in relation to Inga, which has been questioned by lawyer Petra Kullmei, who represents the girl’s mother.
Inga’s disappearance in Diakoniewerk Wilhelmshof on May 2, 2015 happened just 48 miles away from where Christian Brueckner owned a house in Neuwegersleben at the time
Justizvollzugsanstalt Kiel in northern Germany where Brueckner is currently being held in jail
Mr Kullmei, who is calling for a new investigation, told Volksstimme: ‘The file was closed again only four weeks after starting work. I think that’s not very ambitious.’
Brueckner, who has been labelled a ‘multiple sexual predator’ by prosecutors, is said to have been convicted of a child sex offence in Germany when aged just 17.
Yet the drifter, who reportedly has as many as 17 criminal convictions, was apparently overlooked by Portuguese police during their Madeleine probe.
Brueckner, who is in jail in Kiel, Germany, was also convicted of raping a 72-year-old US widow in her Algarve home 18 months before Madeleine disappeared.
In 2014, Brueckner was said to have been living at a house on this road in Braunschweig, near Hanover, where he told friends he had opened a shop and worked from 7am until midnight
Police say Brueckner may have been living in this campervan at the time Madeleine vanished
But Brueckner only became a suspect for Scotland Yard in 2017 when he is said to have told a friend at a bar he ‘knew all about’ what had happened to Madeleine.
Madeleine disappeared while her parents, from Rothley in Leicestershire, were having a meal with friends at a tapas bar close to their apartment in Praia da Luz.
Inga, who had blonde hair and blue eyes like Madeleine, had been having a barbecue with her family at an apartment complex in a forest when she disappeared.
She is believed to have wandered off to collect wood to light a campfire but never returned, prompting more than 500 people and volunteers to search for her.
Brueckner had lived in this remote farmhouse overlooking Praia da Luz from 1999 to 2006
The farmhouse where the new prime suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance lived was located just two miles from where she went missing from her family’s holiday apartment
Police dogs also failed to pick up the scent of Inga who had been wearing a butterfly T-shirt, blue jeans and her hair in two plaits and vanished at about 6.30pm.
Brueckner had lived in a remote farmhouse overlooking Praia da Luz from 1999 to 2006 and may have been living in a campervan at the time Madeleine disappeared.
But not long after Madeleine vanished in 2007, he left Portugal and returned to his homeland – where he was later said to own the property in Neuwegersleben.
In 2014, he was said to have been living in Braunschweig, near Hanover, where he told friends he had opened a local shop and worked from 7am until midnight.
Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann are pictured in London in October 2014
Sources have said that a German national serving time in prison in northern Germany would likely face trial in his homeland rather than be extradited to Britain.
The Metropolitan Police in London has always insisted that if the suspect is a UK national, it will push for them to be charged and prosecuted in Britain.
But in the case of a foreign suspect, it would be extremely difficult to extradite them to the UK for a crime committed overseas.
The Portuguese authorities could seek to pursue the case as the offence occurred there. But sources said the German investigation would be likely to take primacy.