Ever since she disappeared little Inga Gehricke has been compared to missing British youngster Madeleine McCann.
Just like Madeleine, Inga was the apple of her family’s eye. Blonde and bubbly, the five-year-old had a smile that lit up a room.
And just like three-year-old Madeleine, she vanished without trace while with her family.
German national Christian Brueckner has been named in media reports as the suspect in Madeleine’s investigation and is reportedly serving a seven-year prison sentence for the rape of a 72-year-old American woman in Portugal in 2005.
He was also previously a focus in the investigation into missing Inga.
Brueckner has also been convicted for sex offences against girls.
According to Bild, in 2016 Brueckner was a focus in the investigation into a missing girl from Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, named locally as Inga Gehricke.
Brueckner is said to have been in Saxony-Anhalt when young Inga disappeared ‘without a trace’ on a family day out in 2015.
His property in Neuwegersleben, Saxony-Anhalt, was searched in February 2016 in connection with Inga’s disappearance, according to the Volksstimme newspaper.
However the line of inquiry was not pursued further, reports said.
Brueckner reportedly had no alibi but the case was closed just four weeks in.
For years police in Germany have searched for little pigtail wearing Inga – but no trace of her has ever been found.
It was almot exactly eight years to the day after Madeleine vanished from the Praia de Luz resort while on holiday with her family that Inga disappeared on May 2, 2015.
Inga, along with her mum and dad, Victoria and Jens-Uwe, brothers Maxim and Julius and sister, Freya, had gone on a fun family day out.
They had travelled 50 miles from their home to the forest of Diakoniewerk Wilhelmshof, just to the west of Berlin, to meet friends for a barbecue.
It was the perfect family day out in a stunning woodland for the little girl, who happily played with the other children while their parents started cooking the food.
Heartbreakingly, it was he started the barbecue that her father would see his daughter alive for the final time.
Keen to help her parents, little Inga, in an adorable butterfly T-shirt and blue jeans, was carrying bottles of water to the table where they would sit down to enjoy the barbecue.
The table was in a sun dappled clearing at the edge of the forest and as the sun started to fade in the sky, two of the other children saw her heading to the home of the family friends through the trees.
Her heartbroken father said: “It was only 100 metres to the house. But she never got there.”
Inga’s family launched a desperate search to find the little girl, assuming she had wandered off to get more fire wood.
After hunting for the five-year-old all night, 500 local volunteers joined in, combing the massive forest for days.
Her mother said: “I thought: You will definitely find my child, it is just a matter of time. Then you mistrust everyone at that moment.”
The police investigation into Inga’s disappearance was huge, with more than 2,000 leads followed up.
It emerged that drifter Brueckner was in the area the same week Inga vanished, living in a cramped caravan about 50 miles away.
Eight months after she vanished, officers searched his home but found nothing apart from child abuse images stored on a USB, which he was prosecuted for.
In the five years since Inga’s death her parents, just like Gerry and Kate McCann, have clung to the hope that their little girl is still alive.
In 2017 Inga’s mum said: “My feeling tells me that she is still alive.”
Police in Germany have now started a preliminary investigation into missing Inga.