Madeleine McCann faker Julia Wendell admits she’s not Maddie, tells of regrets and says 'I wanted to know the truth'

31 January 2024, 08:19 | Updated: 31 January 2024, 10:31

Julia Wendell has said she regrets pretending she was Madeleine McCann
Julia Wendell has said she regrets pretending she was Madeleine McCann. Picture: Social Media/Alamy

By Asher McShane

A woman who claimed she was Madeleine McCann has admitted she is not the missing girl and spoken candidly about her troubled life, saying she “just wanted to know the truth” about who she is.

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Julia Wendell, 22, said she “never meant to hurt anyone, including [the] McCanns.

“I really wanted to know who I am.”

Last April DNA tests showed that Julia was not Madeleine McCann, who went missing in May 2007 while on holiday with her family in Portugal.

Her disappearance sparked one of the most high-profile missing people searches in history.

Julia’s DNA tests showed she is in fact from Poland, with some Lithuanian and Romanian heritage.

Julia told the BBC Radio 4’s podcast Why Do You Hate Me? of her troubled past, how she was isolated at school and suffered abuse and that caused her to be unable to remember large chunks of her life.

Julia even appeared on US talk show Dr Phil
Julia even appeared on US talk show Dr Phil. Picture: YouTube/DrPhil

Read more: 'I'm not a fraud and I'm not a paedophile': Woman who claimed to be Madeleine McCann hits back in defiant post

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When she was aged around 20, she began therapy and started to ask her family to help her fill in the gaps in her life, and she wondered whether she might be adopted.

She said she happened across Madeleine’s case: “"I know [what] my abuser looks like. And I know this is very, very similar to the suspects from [the] Madeleine McCann page,” she said.

She said she contacted police “so many times…. But no-one treated me seriously.”

Madeleine went missing in Portugal in 2007
Madeleine went missing in Portugal in 2007. Picture: Alamy

She said she turned to social media, where she found some validation, but once her story gained attention, she was bombarded with death threats and abuse.

“"I knew that there will be people who will not believe me or hate me, but I didn't expect that I will get death threats, for example. It was something that I don't understand. People knew that I was abused and they all knew that I deal with depression," Julia says.

"I was trying to be strong even when people said, you should die. You should be raped. You should be killed. You should be murdered. You shouldn't exist in this world. You're a bitch.

“I wanted to know the truth. I apologised to the McCanns because I don’t know them personally.

“I don’t know if they were watching this journey, if they were sad or whatever. And I just wanted to say sorry. I didn’t want them to feel sad.”

Julia went worldwide with her claim that she was Madeleine, even appearing on US TV shows including Dr Phil.

"I believe I am Madeleine McCann," she insisted on the show in March 2023.

Julia said she wouldn’t want any contact with her Polish family if the DNA results prove she isn't Madeleine.

“If she is my mother, I don’t want to have contact with her that’s all, but I believe she isn’t my mother,” she said on the show.

Julia later claimed that she was "coerced" into a trip to the United States and had been "isolated" from those around her.

Madeleine, from Rothley, Leicestershire went missing in May 2007 just a few days short of her fourth birthday while on holiday with her siblings and parents Kate and Gerry and nothing has been seen or heard of her since.

German prosecutors have identified Christian Brueckner, 46, a convicted paedophile and rapist as the chief suspect in her disappearance.