A former school caregiver has talked about the “heartbreaking” realization that a man who told him that he spoiled young children is now the prime suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.
Peter Erdmann, 64, told the Sunday Mirror that Christian Brueckner spent two YEARS giving sweets and cuddly toys to children aged seven to 10 for two YEARS.
He said that children came to school with gifts they said Brueckner gave them – and another local claimed that children went behind the counter and entered his store’s storage area.
Peter now says that the police should investigate whether the 43-year-old Brueckner cares for children in the kiosk, just 300 meters from a school in Braunschweig, Northern Germany.
The caretaker said today, “The police should definitely investigate whether Christian has abused them.
“He gave the presents mainly to boys, but also to some girls. He gave them presents almost every day and that lasted a few years.
“I didn’t think so and just thought he was a friendly man. I always went to the newsstand and he gave me pictures of Jagermeister for free. He knew I was the school janitor. My stomach is turning now. ‘
Peter spoke as police in Germany revealed they were investigating possible connections linking Brueckner to the disappearance of Maddie and three German children.
Three-year-old Maddie from Rothley, Leics, disappeared in May 2007 while on holiday in Praia da Luz, Portugal.
Police are now looking into the cases of Inga Gehricke, five, and René Hasee, six, in Germany – and the murder of German girl Carola Titze, 16, in Belgium.
Brueckner is in prison for drug offenses, but can technically apply for parole. He was also convicted for seven years in last December of raping a 72-year-old woman at her 2005 villa in Praia da Luz. However, there are reportedly legal disputes surrounding that conviction for extradition issues.
Brueckner took a call at Praia da Luz the night Maddie disappeared. He lived locally, on and off, and had a gray Jaguar and a Westfalia motorhome on display in the area.
Caregiver Peter told the Sunday Mirror that he regrets not speaking to the police before.
He worked at the Grundschule Hohestieg School in Braunschweig from 1999 to 2016 and says Brueckner lived locally from 2014-16.
Peter said: “The children came to school with ponies and teddy bears. They said Christian had given them to them and that he always had a big bag in the pantry.
“I asked him if he was giving presents to the kids and he told me that he had a box full of such presents in the kiosk.
“He walked past the school at least once a day while walking his two dogs. I wish I had told what happened to my bosses at the time.
“I’m sorry and I’m not suspicious. It is heartbreaking and I am disgusted by what I read about him. ‘
There is no suggestion that Brueckner abused any of the students at the school or the kiosk children.
Another resident, named Norbert, said he saw nine-year-old children behind the counter.
Norbert grew up in the area and later moved to the old Brueckner flat nearby.
He said, “Sometimes he let kids work behind the counter. Children were also seen in the storage room, but no one knew about his conviction at the time. He’s disgusted with me. ‘
Norbert let the Sunday Mirror into the flat, which he said left Brueckner in a disgusting condition.
He said, “There was trash everywhere. The floors and bottom of the walls were black and there was vomit and bugs everywhere. Pest control had to disinfect everything. There were broken windows. The bedroom was broken. Everything was damaged. He was an animal. He kept partying all night and neighbors complained to the police.
“Who knows if the kids got involved? I wouldn’t be surprised. “
Norbert also claimed that Brueckner, who lived in the apartment with a 17-year-old girlfriend, left two dogs on a subsequent visit to the Algarve.
And he claimed that Brueckner returned and threatened him with a knife, demanding that he take a freezer and air conditioning he left behind.
The misery corresponded to the conditions of an abandoned farm near Neuwegersleben, where Brueckner also lived.
Meanwhile, a former friend claimed that Brueckner had a reputation for providing teenage girls with drugs in exchange for sex. The friend claims that he was known in the village of Barao de Sao Joao, in the Algarve, as the go-to person for cannabis and class A drugs.
The woman claimed, “It was a favor exchange. He took care of joints and what they need. In return, they had sex with him because they had no money to pay for drugs. ‘