Cop bungle behind Madeleine McCann mystery
The contents of a letter German prosecutors sent to Madeleine McCann's parents has sparked confusion and morbid speculation this week.
But the reason why the parents of the missing British girl didn't receive the letter have been revealed.
This week German prosecutors declared they have "concrete evidence" Madeleine was dead, in a hugely significant development for the case that has been unsolved for 13 years.
The girl went missing from the family room they were staying in at a Portuguese resort in 2007.
Brunswick prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters said "it is concrete evidence, facts that we have, not mere indications."
He said a letter had been sent to Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann - who have led a tireless quest for information on their daughter - but he was unable to disclose any details and "we have no forensic evidence of Madeleine's death, such as a corpse."
The admission raised speculation as to what evidence could have German prosecutors so convinced the British child was dead. Scotland Yard is still treating the case as a missing person.
Kate and Gerry McCann released a statement saying "the widely reported news that we have a received a letter from the German authorities that states there is evidence or proof that Madeleine is dead is FALSE."
"Like many unsubstantiated stories in the media, this has caused unnecessary anxiety to friends and family and once again disrupted our lives."
"As we have stated many times before, we will not give a running commentary on the investigation- that is the job of the law enforcement agencies and we will support them in any way requested," the anguished parents wrote.
But Madeleine's parents were sent two letters by German cops - but British police failed to pass them on.
The first, saying they were treating their daughter's disappearance as murder after finding new evidence, was dispatched at the end of May.
The second was sent last week to update them on the investigation.
Both of the notes from the German Federal Police (BKA) were sent to the McCanns indirectly via Scotland Yard.
The bungle highlights the disjointed investigation that involves British, German and Portuguese police. The three agencies have bickered over sharing DNA evidence.
SUSPECT APPLIES FOR EARLY RELEASE
The new suspect in the 13-year investigation is German man, Christian B, a 43-year-old drifter and career criminal who has a history of child sex offences and rape.
He is known to have been living in the Algarve region between 1995 and 2007 and is currently serving a sentence for drug trafficking in northern Germany.
This week Wolters also confirmed Christian B has applied to be released early on probation after having completed two thirds of his drug trafficking sentence.
However, Wolters said the suspect will not be freed from custody as there is a case pending against him over the rape of an elderly woman in Portugal.
A court in Brunswick had sentenced Christian B to seven years in prison last December for the assault against the 72-year-old American tourist in 2005 - in the same seaside village of Praia da Luz where Maddie went missing.
But the sentence has not yet been finalised pending extradition technicalities. During the trial for that case, two witnesses said they had found a gun, video cameras and several tapes at Christian B's home in Portugal, according to a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper citing court documents.
One of them later watched some of the footage and saw a man raping an elderly woman tied to a bed, the report said.
Three-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared from the family room in a Portuguese resort while her parents were dining in a nearby restaurant.
Despite an intense manhunt including more than 600 suspects, no one has been charged over her disappearance and no trace of the child has been found.
Now Portuguese police are under pressure as to why they seemingly discounting a known child sex offender living in the region from the investigation.
German investigators have sparked the ire of Portuguese police by seeking to retest a saliva sample found in the apartment Madeleine went missing from.
They believe it could contain vital evidence, but Portuguese police are reportedly reluctant to send the 13-year-old trace sample to Germany following criticism by Wolters over their actions.
The fresh lead in the case has prompted an outpouring of information regarding Christian B, with more than 300 tips coming through to UK police.
Police are seeking to find out who made a 30 minute phonecall to Christian B on the night Madeleine disappeared from a local number and it's understood whether he was tipped off as to a potential burglary by a member of the resort staff is one line of inquiry.
Authorities in Germany are also re-examining files relating to at least three other missing children to see if Christian B can be linked to them.
In Germany, prosecutors are combing through the files to see if the suspect had anything to do with the disappearance of a five-year-old girl named Inga from the town of Schoenebeck in Saxony-Anhalt in 2015.
Authorities in Belgium said they have reopened a probe into the 1996 murder of a German teenager, Carola Titze, 16, in the resort town of De Haan on the Belgian coast.
And in Portugal, the stepfather of missing eight-year-old girl, Joana Cipriano, has asked authorities to explore possible links.
Christian B. has not been called in for questioning and his lawyers say he has so far refused to speak about the case.
In 2007, police believe he was living in a white Westfalia camper van with yellow skirting at the time of the kidnapping and they are keen for witnesses who remember seeing the vehicle back then to come forward.
Originally published as Cop bungle behind Maddie mystery