Prosecutors have reopened an investigation into the Madeleine McCann suspect over another girl’s disappearance in 2015.
Inga Gehricke vanished from Diakoniewerk Wilhelmshof in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, during a family outing.
Then aged five, Inga vanished on May 2, 2015 – 48 miles away from where suspect Christian Brueckner owned a home.
She had gone to look for wood for a fire in the forest but “did not return,” according to ZDF.de.
German prosecutors have today confirmed they have opened a preliminary investigation into whether Brueckner, 43, was involved.
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.
Detectives searched for years but did not find a trace of young Inga, in a case that has been compared to Madeleine’s.
In a 2017 interview Inga’s mum Victoria gave to Stern, she said: “My feeling tells me that she is still alive.”
She said initially she thought ‘you will definitely find my child, it is just a matter of time’.
Brueckner has been convicted for sex offences against girls.
He and a pal were in a German bar watching a TV report on the case in 2017 when he allegedly said he knew what had happened to Madeleine, the Sun reports.
The alleged confession to her abduction came on the 10th anniversary of her disappearance.
Brueckner is also alleged to have shown to a witness video footage of him raping a woman.
Reports say this led to his conviction and being jailed in December last year for the rape of a 72-year-old woman in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2005.
The claims come as police received hundreds of contacts from the public following the launch of a new appeal for information on Madeleine’s disappearance.
DCI Mark Cranwell, who is leading the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Grange investigation into the case, said more than 270 calls and emails had been received by 4pm on Thursday.
It followed British, German and Portuguese authorities launching an appeal for information on Wednesday night relating to the suspect.
German prosecutors have said they believe Madeleine is dead and are investigating the child sex predator on suspicion of her murder.
The suspect known to have lived on the Algarve coast and his Portuguese mobile phone received a half-hour phone call in Praia da Luz around an hour before Madeleine, three, went missing on May 3 2007.
Scotland Yard said he was believed to have been living in a distinctive early 1980s VW T3 Westfalia camper van at the time and re-registered a 1993 Jaguar XJR6 in someone else’s name the day after her disappearance.
Operation Grange still considers the case a missing person inquiry because there is no “definitive evidence whether Madeleine is alive or dead”.