Police across Europe are reviewing unsolved child murders and disappearances to see whether there is any link to the prime suspect in the abduction of Madeleine McCann.
Detectives in France, Spain, Germany, Portugal and Belgium are sifting through cold case files involving youngsters after the possibility was raised that Christian Brückner, 43, was linked to another missing child and a teenager’s murder in Belgium.
The father of Rene Hasee, a six-year-old boy, who went missing in 1996 while on holiday in the Algarve, has been told by the Federal Criminal Police Office in Germany that they are reopening the investigation. At that time, Brückner, just 20, was living in the region.
Speaking from his home in Germany, Andreas Hasee told the Sunday Telegraph the detectives said “absolutely nothing” about Brückner being linked to the decision, but he believed the “two cases aren’t that different at all - and that he [Brückner] could have something to do with it.”
In Belgium, the public prosecutor’s office in West Flanders, Bruge, confirmed it is investigating whether Brückner was connected to the murder of Carola Titze, 16, whose body was found in sand dunes in De Haan, in 1996.
The teenager, who was on holiday, was said to have met a German man and was seen with him at a disco just days before her murder.
Meanwhile, German police are investigating whether the suspect was involved in the disappearance of Inga Gehricke, five, in woods in Germany in 2015, after it emerged Brückner was some 70 miles away.
UK detectives investigating the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine in Praia da Luz, also on the Algarve, have said they have received 400 calls and emails from the public since launching a fresh appeal for information, which included naming Brückner as a suspect in the town where she vanished in May 2007.
It is understood Brückner, 43, travelled extensively by car between his native Bavaria and the Algarve for a period spanning two decades.
In Germany federal police chiefs have issued a general alert to regional forces to check all child cold cases to see whether they tallied with the time Brückner was not in prison for other offences.
Professor David Wilson, a leading British criminologist, told The Sunday Telegraph an offender like Brückner, who has been jailed for sex attacks on children and a pensioner, would have struggled to suppress “fluid sexual fantasies” and would have had to live a predominantly nomadic life.
Brückner, who was jailed for the sadistic rape of 72-year-old woman as well as child sex offences, has not been charged with any new crimes.