When did Madeleine McCann go missing? What are the key dates and developments

4 June 2020, 11:32

What year did Madeleine McCann go missing and what are the key dates and important facts to remember in the case of the girl who went missing in Praia da Luz?

With more than 13 years passing since three-year-old Madeline McCann vanished from a holiday home in the Portuguese village of Praia da Luz while on holiday with her parents, Kate and Gerry, and brother and sister many expected to see now further developments in the case.

But on Wednesday Scotland Yard detectives announced they had identified a new suspect.

Madeleine McCann went missing while on holiday with her family
Madeleine McCann went missing while on holiday with her family. Picture: PA

Detectives said a German child sex offender may have kidnapped Madeleine McCann after breaking into her family's holiday apartment in Portugal.

The suspect, who has not been named, is described as white with short blond hair, possibly fair, and about 6ft tall with a slim build at the time she vanished.

Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), said the 43-year-old is serving a prison sentence for a sex crime and has two previous convictions for "sexual contact with girls".

Read more: Madeleine McCann suspect may have had accomplices, say German police

Gerry and Kate McCann whose daughter Madeleine disappeared from a holiday flat in Portugal in 2007 at a press conference in London where they hold an image of what Madeline might look like as an older girl
Gerry and Kate McCann whose daughter Madeleine disappeared from a holiday flat in Portugal in 2007 at a press conference in London where they hold an image of what Madeline might look like as an older girl. Picture: PA

Read more: German prison inmate identified as new suspect in Madeleine McCann case

But what led events to this point? Here is a timeline of events surrounding her disappearance and some of the developments over the following years.


- May 3: Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, leave their three children asleep in their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in southern Portugal while they dine with friends at a nearby tapas restaurant.

Nothing is amiss when Mr McCann checks on the youngsters just after 9pm, but when his wife goes back at about 10pm she finds three-year-old Madeleine missing.

Jane Tanner, one of the friends dining with the McCanns, reports seeing a man carrying a child earlier that night.

- May 14: Detectives take Anglo-Portuguese property developer Robert Murat in for questioning and make him an "arguido", or formal suspect.

Officers also search the home he shares with his mother in Praia da Luz, just 100 yards from where the youngster vanished.

- August 11: Exactly 100 days after Madeleine disappeared, investigating officers publicly acknowledge for the first time that she could be dead.

- September 7: During questioning of Mr and Mrs McCann, detectives make them both "arguidos" in their daughter's disappearance.

- September 9: The McCanns fly back to England with their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.


- July 21: The Portuguese authorities shelve their investigation and lift the "arguido" status of the McCanns and Robert Murat.


- May 12: Mrs McCann publishes a book about her daughter's disappearance, on Madeleine's eighth birthday.

Scotland Yard launches a review of the case after a request from Home Secretary Theresa May, supported by Prime Minister David Cameron.


- April 25: Scotland Yard detectives say they believe Madeleine could still be alive, release an age-progression picture of how she might look as a nine-year-old, and call on the Portuguese authorities to reopen the case, but Portuguese police say they have found no new material.


- July 4: Scotland Yard confirms it has launched its own investigation, Operation Grange, into Madeleine's disappearance two years into a review of the case. It has "genuinely new" lines of inquiry and has identified 38 people of interest, including 12 Britons.

- October 24: Portuguese police confirm that a review of their original investigation has uncovered new lines of inquiry, and they reopen the case.


- January 29: British detectives fly to Portugal amid claims they are planning to make arrests.

- June 3: Sniffer dogs and specialist teams are used to search an area of scrubland close to where Madeleine went missing.

- December 12: Detectives began questioning 11 people who it was thought may have information on the case.


- September 16: The Government discloses that the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine has cost more than £10 million.

- October 28: Scotland Yard's investigation into the disappearance has been cut from 29 officers to four.


- April 30: The couple prepare to mark 10 years since their daughter's disappearance with a BBC interview where they vow to do "whatever it takes for as long as it takes" to find her.


- May 3: Local media report Portuguese detectives are investigating a foreign paedophile as a suspect in the abduction of Madeleine McCann.


- June 3: Police reveal that a 43-year-old German prisoner has been identified as a suspect in Madeleine's disappearance.

The Operation Grange incident room can be contacted on 0207 321 9251 or operation.grange@met.police.uk.