In 2007, Kate and Jerry McCann of Leicestershire, along with two other families, went on vacation to Praia da Luz, Portugal. The McCanns rented an apartment on the first floor of a high-rise apartment building, where they planned to spend a week. On May 3, the sixth day of their vacation, the adults decided to have dinner at a restaurant. They chose a place about 50 meters from the apartment and reserved a table with a good view of the windows. Three-year-old Madeleine stayed home with her younger brother and sister. By the time their parents left at 8:30 p.m., the children were already asleep.
During dinner, the McCanns and their friends took turns taking off several times to check on the children. The last time Madeleine was seen was by a family friend, Matthew Oldfield. At 9:05 p.m., he went to see his children and stopped by the McCanns’ room on the way. The twins and their sister were sleeping quietly in their cribs, and the atmosphere was peaceful. The only thing Matthew noticed was the bedroom door open wide. The man closed it and returned to the restaurant. At 10 p.m. the mother, Kate, went to see the children. It immediately struck her that the bedroom door was wide open again. When she tried to close it, it slammed shut with a loud noise from the draft.That’s when Kate saw that a window was open in the room. She rushed into the bedroom: the twins were asleep in the playpen, but Madeleine was gone. All that was left in the crib was the toy she’d been cuddling while she slept.
Left: Madeleine in 2007 (3 years old). Right: Forensic reconstruction of Madeleine’s face in 2012. This is what she might have looked like at age 9
Until dawn, the girl was searched for by her parents and friends, hotel staff, and vacationers. The family immediately called the police — but the squad only arrived on the spot three hours later. Thanks to an appeal to the British media, the news about the disappearance of the girl came out already in the morning news, help was also requested from the British Embassy in Portugal. But it was not possible to determine the child’s whereabouts on a hot trail. According to the family, much of what the police should do when someone goes missing was not done in Praia da Luz. For some reason, the investigation did not even try to find traces of the kidnapper’s DNA, the search was sluggish, the attitude was superficial, the McCanns claimed. After 100 days, the police officially announced that it was impossible to find the girl alive and believed that Madeleine could have been killed by her own mother! No evidence was found to support this theory, however.
The McCanns were forced to leave Portugal and return home, where, with the assistance of Theresa May, Scotland Yard began its investigation into the case. It is known that Madeleine’s parents also sought help from private detective agencies. Since 2010, the case has involved several suspects, including Sigmund Freud’s grandson and a gypsy family who allegedly tried to sell the girl to a child molester.
As of April 2022, Christian Brückner, a resident of Germany, is the prime suspect in the case, now serving a prison sentence for sexually abusing another child. There is some evidence pointing to his possible involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance, but investigators have yet to solidify the evidence base. Kate and Jerry McCann still don’t know what happened to their little girl. It’s impossible to imagine what the parents have endured during these 15 years of searching, how much effort has been in vain. The McCanns never stop hoping that if they can never see their daughter again, they can at least learn about her fate.
A few weeks ago, posts by Julia Faustyna, who also introduced herself as Julia Wendell and Julia Wandelt, circulated on social networks. In early February, the 21-year-old Polish woman created a social media page called «I am Madeleine McCann.
The bio of the account originally stated, «I think I might be Madeleine. I need a DNA test. Investigators from the UK and Poland are ignoring me. I will tell my story in posts here. Help me, I need to talk to Kate and Jerry McCann.» True, the information was later deleted.
In a series of posts and videos, the girl compared her childhood photos to those of Madeleine McCann. Users noticed that they have similar facial features. In addition, Julia has the same iris spot (coloboma) as Madeleine — and this defect is not very common. She also showed a birthmark in the same spot under her eye as the missing girl, though it has faded with age, Faustyna said. Polka published her memories of «vacationing in a warm place where there was a beach and white or very bright buildings.» But family is not in them, she writes.
Julia believes she was raised by non-biological parents and that her date of birth has been altered (Julia is now 21, but she believes she should be 19 now). In one entry, the Polish woman said that she looked at pictures of Bruckner (the main suspect in the case) and realized that she remembered him «hurting her.» Another of Faustina’s arguments is the testimony of a student from Worclaw (the girl lived there until she was 20). He allegedly saw Madeleine in the street a few days after the kidnapping.
Above: baby and adult photos of Julia Faustyna. Bottom: photos of Kate and Jerry McCann
To convince users that she’s right, Julia is collaging her photos together with pictures of little Madeleine, her mother and father. She thinks she looks like them.
There are some gaps in Faustyna’s story. Julia has posted many photo collages with the McCanns, but she only showed one picture with her mother who raised her and soon deleted it. And even in this short time, users managed to notice that the two women have a lot in common.
Some subscribers believe that Faustyna may have composed the story in order to draw attention to herself and achieve success as a songwriter and musician (there are videos of her playing the piano and singing on the girl’s page). It also became known that some time ago Julia Faustyna was raising money for the treatment of her dog through a crowdfunding platform. A woman from Poland responded to the ad and sent her a pretty decent amount.
Because of these surfacing details, there are a growing number of people who believe that Julia may be lying in the hope of making money or becoming famous. However, Faustyna also has plenty of fans who believe her story.
The bio on Faustyna’s page was updated a few days ago. «Thank you for your support! Kate and Jerry McCann agreed to a DNA test!» — it now reads. According to Julia’s recent posts, she has been contacted by someone in the family, and now she hopes to be able to talk to Madeleine’s parents in person.
A source close to Kate and Jerry told the Daily Star that «the family is taking no chances, they are willing to consider all versions.» «The girl does look like Madeleine. If what she says is true, there’s every chance it could be her. It all adds up,» the comment said.
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