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Police are investigating prime suspect Christian B over Inga Gehricke. She vanished in Germany eight years after Madeleine was snatched. The revelation comes as German police decide whether to charge Christian B over Madeleine’s disappearance. Inga was just five when she vanished while on a family outing in Saxony-Anhalt in May 2015. No trace of her has been found.
Christian B, 43, was living in a caravan on the site of a disused factory about 50 miles from the scene at the time.
German police are now investigating “connections” between the cases involving Madeleine and Inga, officials revealed yesterday.
Madeleine disappeared on May 3, 2007, and Inga on May 2, 2015.
One source said: “It is a real race against time to get him on the charge sheet if the evidence exists to link him to Madeleine’s disappearance.”
Christian B is currently in jail in Kiel, north Germany, where he has nearly served two-thirds of a sentence for drugs charges.
Last December he was jailed for seven years for rape but this sentence has yet to be “ratified” and his lawyers have launched an appeal.
Christian B was sentenced for raping a 72-year-old American widow at her home in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in September 2005.
Three-year-old Madeleine was snatched from her family’s holiday apartment in the same town.
Investigations into Christian B’s alleged possible involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance are being co-ordinated by prosecutors in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, his last known address in Germany.
They are treating Madeleine’s disappearance as a case of kidnap and murder. But Scotland Yard detectives, who have carried out a £12.3million investigation into the mystery, still regard it as a missing persons inquiry.
It emerged yesterday that Christian B’s police file contains details of a chat room conversation in 2013 when Christian B fantasised about “catching something small and using it for days”.
The monster shrugged off warnings he would be in danger of being caught and jailed, saying: “Oh, if the evidence was destroyed afterwards.”
It is understood German police have checked Christian B for any possible links with paedophile networks in case Madeleine was kidnapped to order by a child sex ring.
Police in Britain have investigated cases where a group of paedophiles have plotted to snatch a child off the street. Members of a network are told to abduct and drug a terrified child before taking him or her to a pre-arranged venue. In some cases, the victims were murdered.
Police suspect Madeleine’s family apartment in Praia da Luz and nearby properties may have been watched by her kidnapper for days before she vanished.
The three-year-old was sleeping in a room with her younger siblings, twins Sean and Amelie, when she was snatched on the evening of May 3, 2007.
Their parents Kate and Gerry McCann were dining with friends at a nearby restaurant at the time and were checking on the children regularly.
Christian B, then 30, was living in the area in a dirty white and yellow VW camper van.
He was close to the crime scene when he took a mobile phone call about an hour before Madeleine vanished. The conversation lasted about 30 minutes.
Earlier this week, Scotland Yard launched a joint appeal with police in Germany and Portugal.
They want to hear from witnesses who recall seeing two vehicles linked to Christian B around the time Madeleine went missing – the camper van and a dark-coloured Jaguar. The Yard revealed Christian B re-registered the Jaguar in the name of someone else the day after Madeleine disappeared.
Nine months after Inga vanished, 100 police officers raided Christian B’s home and seized child sex abuse images on a computer memory stick.
Officers also discovered a young girl’s clothing in his home but none of it was linked to Inga. The paedophile images were forensically examined but there was no connection with any known missing child and the investigation was closed down in a month.
The convicted paedophile had been living in a caravan on isolated land in the German town of Neuwegersleben.
Five-year-old Inga went missing around 50 miles away at Diakoniewerk Wilhelmshof.
The little girl and her family were enjoying a barbecue when she wandered into woods and disappeared. Her frantic parents raised the alarm after a 15-minute search but no trace of Inga has ever been found.
She has since become known as the German Maddie.
A spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office in Stendal, a short distance from where Inga went missing, said yesterday: “It is now being examined whether there is any new evidence in connection with the murder suspect in Braunschweig.”
Under strict privacy laws, Christian B cannot be named in Germany.
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