Portuguese police have excluded pedophile Christian Brueckner as a suspect in the violent rape of an Irish woman in the Algarve more than 15 years ago, it is said.
Brueckner, now 43, is suspected of kidnapping and murdering Madeleine McCann in Praia da Luz about three years after Hazel Behan was attacked in her apartment in 2004.
Ms. Behan shared this week how she became physically ill when she read disturbing details about how masked Brueckner raped and assaulted a 72-year-old American woman on camera in Praia da Luz in 2005.
She said the incident was similar to the attack on her when a masked and machete-wielding intruder tied and gagged her, then filmed raping and beating her up to five hours before she fled.
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Her attacker was never caught, and she believes that the Portuguese police investigation was flawed because officers had not conducted a thorough investigation and search.
She believes that if the Portuguese police had thoroughly investigated her case, they might have caught the attacker.
When Brueckner emerged as the prime suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance, investigators looked again at the attack on Ms. Behan to find out if he was the attacker, the Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Noticas reported.
However, they concluded that he was not responsible and excluded him as a suspect, the report added.
The newspaper reported, “Jornal de Noticias has learned that the idea that it was Brueckner was considered when he became a suspect in the Maddie case.
“Unsolved crimes, such as Hazel’s, were reviewed and investigators concluded that he was not the author.”
Police have reviewed a number of unsolved crimes to see if Brueckner could have been responsible, the newspaper said.
Ms Behan has spoken to British police and asked Portuguese agents to review her case after hearing about Brueckner last week.
She shared how she was attacked in her flat in Praia da Rocha, about 15 miles from the resort where Madeleine disappeared, while working as a 20-year-old vacation representative in the Algarve.
She waived her right to anonymity and told it Guardian that her rapist was a man who spoke English with a German accent, and was about five feet tall.
The intruder set up a video camera to film the attack and told her not to shout.
He dragged her along and tied her to a breakfast bar counter, took out a bag of whips and chains, cut off her clothes, and stuffed her with a cloth.
He then beat and raped her in what appeared to be a carefully planned attack.
Ms Behan said: “I went to bed around 1 am and was awakened by someone calling my name. I turned on my back and there was a masked man dressed in pantyhose and what looked like a leotard, a machete about 30 cm long in his hand. ‘
She added, “He consistently cleaned his hands and changed condoms repeatedly. He wanted me to do a certain act on him that I just couldn’t do, I gagged.
“He got angry and ordered me into the bathroom and he picked up the machete. I was convinced he was going to kill me, and I was screaming and saying I wouldn’t go in there. ‘
Mrs. Behan’s hands were still tied behind her back when her attacker leaned her over a bench and put a sheet over her head.
She was afraid she was about to be killed, but he walked out the door, put his shoes back on and ran away.
Through the holes in his mask, she said she could see his blond eyebrows and blue eyes.
There was a distinctive mark on the top of his right thigh, which was a pull in the pantyhose, a tattoo, or a birthmark, she added.
German media have reported that Brueckner, now 43, has birthmarks on his right upper leg.
Former neighbors in Praia da Luz said that he left his ramshackle house abruptly in 2006, leaving behind a collection of wigs, costumes and exotic clothes.
Ms Behan was left deeply traumatized and told how she “puked” when she read about the attack on the American woman because it brought her back to the night she was raped.
The Irish woman said she had been ‘humiliated’ by the police, who brought her back to her room and asked her to take off her clothes and get into a ‘star-jumping’ position while they were photographing her.
She was then taken to a hospital for a physical examination, but she does not know if forensic evidence has been collected.
Ms. Behan believes that the police did not conduct a thorough investigation or search because no attempt was made to examine her wounds for evidence, and one of her fingernails was discovered in her room by her mother a few days later.
She said she had been told to remain silent about the attack so as not to get bad publicity at the resort.
She suspects that she was being stalked and that the suspect had been in her room in the weeks before the rape because money was missing and things had been moved.
Ms Behan, who lives in Ireland with her husband and two children, had lost hope that her attacker would be brought to justice until she learned of the new suspect’s previous crimes in the McCann case.
When she made a statement to the police, she was told that they were taking her case seriously and that they would be contacting the Portuguese police.
She said the Met told her that other people had contacted them independently about her attack.
The American retiree who was attacked in a luxury villa in Praia da Luz, the same resort where Maddie would disappear about 18 months later, told Portuguese police that an intruder grabbed her and dragged her to a bedroom, where she was tied up, raped and tortured .
Brueckner filmed the 2005 attack and was not caught for 14 years until a friend came forward with information and DNA evidence that linked him to the crime.
The friend told police he broke into Brueckner near Praia da Luz in 2006 when the suspect was in custody for stealing diesel fuel.
During the break-in, the friend found a video camera and footage of separate attacks on an “older” woman and a “younger” woman.
But the friend was silent for years before going to the police with Brueckner’s information and name.
Her recovered from the woman’s bed matched Brueckner’s DNA, his trial was told.
Brueckner lived about half a mile from the flat where he raped the American woman.
He was jailed for seven years last December and is currently in prison in Kiel in northern Germany.
Meanwhile, prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, who heads the German investigation into Brueckner, said Madeleine may have been abused and murdered shortly afterwards.
He revealed the information when he made a new call for tips, fearing that the prime suspect could be released from prison.
Brueckner is suspected of kidnapping and murdering the young person from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on the night of May 3, 2007.
German prosecutors have already said they think Madeleine is dead and know how she was murdered, but they miss the “crucial evidence” of her body and are unwilling to sue the 43-year-old suspect.
Mr. Wolters said the times: “My personal opinion is that he killed the girl relatively quickly, possibly abused it, and then killed her.
“We think our suspect has committed further crimes, especially sexual crimes, possibly in Portugal but also elsewhere such as Germany.”
Mr. Wolters declined to say or suspect that Brueckner filmed Madeleine’s abuse.
The prosecution said that Brueckner could be released today if a court in Kiel, northern Germany, released him on parole for serving two-thirds of his sentence.
Brueckner spent 21 months in a prison in Kiel for drug trafficking and seven years for raping the American woman. He appeals the last sentence, which was pronounced by a court in Braunschweig, where he once lived.
German authorities fear that he will be released from prison before they have sufficient evidence to sue him in the McCann case, and then leave the country.
Mr. Wolters added, “The sooner we get evidence, the better we can avoid the risk of ever being released.
“If we don’t find anything new against him, he may be released in seven years at the latest and leave Germany for a non-extraditing country.”
Police across Europe are also investigating whether he was involved in unsolved disappearances or murders of children or rapes of women.
Brueckner dated at least two British women when he lived in the Algarve, and one of the ex-girlfriends claims that she had a hair-raising conversation with him the night before Madeleine was kidnapped. Sun reported.
The woman claims that Brueckner, then 30, told her while they were dating, “I have a job tomorrow in Praia da Luz. It is a terrible job, but it is something I have to do and it will change my life. You won’t see me for a while. “
It is alleged that Brueckner disappeared from the Algarve along with Madeleine and reappeared three years later in a bar in Lagos, about ten kilometers from Praia da Luz.
In 2010, a British woman who dated him suggested that he looked like some of the McCann suspects’ e-passions and jokingly asked if he kidnapped the girl.
A friend of both women said to the sun, “He ignored the question and shrugged – adding,” Just don’t go there. “
The girlfriend said that Brueckner’s cryptic comments about having an “awful job” were not taken seriously by his girlfriend on the night of May 2, 2007, because she did not think he could do anything terrible.
The friend added, “But we can’t help feeling guilty thinking we should have collected all the clues years ago and gone to the police.”
Brueckner beat up the two British women – now a mother of two who lives in Berkshire – when he was dating them, the friend claims.
Both live in fear of Brueckner and desperate to keep him locked up, the friend said.
Neither woman is a suspect, and there is no evidence that Brueckner may have had any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.
Maddie, from Rothley, Leicestershire, was just days away from her fourth birthday when she disappeared from her family’s vacation apartment at the Ocean Club complex in Praia da Luz.
Her parents had left her and her 18-month-old twin brothers, Sean and Amelie, alone while eating with friends at a nearby tapas restaurant.