The parents of missing child Madeleine McCann have issued a heartbreaking message on the 17th anniversary of her disappearance.

Madeleine was just three years old when she vanished from her bed in a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Lagos, Portugal, on the evening of May 3, 2007.

Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, had left Madeleine and her twin siblings asleep in the ground floor apartment at around 8.30PM while they dined with friends at a restaurant just 55 meters (180 feet) away, but found she was missing when they checked on the children at 10PM.

A massive search began and Madeleine’s case became one of the most-reported missing child incidents worldwide, however, her whereabouts remain a mystery to this day, and nobody has yet been found guilty of her abduction.

Madeleine was just three years old when she disappeared. Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Kate and Gerry marked the 17th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance on social media, sharing a photo of the child as well as a heartbreaking message.

They wrote: “It’s 17 years since Madeleine was taken from us. It’s hard to even say that number without shaking our heads in disbelief.

“Whilst we are fortunate in many ways and able to live a relatively normal and enjoyable life now, the ‘living in limbo’ is still very unsettling. And the absence still aches.”

The couple also thanked the public for their support over the years, adding: “Your support continues to encourage us and bolsters our strength to keep going.

“We know the love and hope for Madeleine and the will to find her, even after so many years, remains, and we are truly thankful for that.

“Thank you again for remembering Madeleine and all missing children. Kate and Gerry.”

Madeleine’s disappearance made headlines around the world, and is one of the most-publicised missing persons cases ever, with several documentaries having been made about the search.

Over £13 million ($16.3 million) has been spent on investigating her disappearance, with it recently being revealed that the Home Office had granted a further £192,000 ($241,000) to continue the search.

Nobody has yet been found guilty of abducting Madeleine, who would now be 20 years old, despite so much resource being put into the extensive search.

Christian Brueckner, a convicted pedophile from Germany, was named the prime suspect in her disappearance in 2020.

He is accused of a string of sex offenses unrelated to Madeleine’s case, but denies any involvement in the toddler’s disappearance.

According to Detective Constable Mark Draycott, who was giving evidence in Brueckner’s trial, the case was “blown open” by a voicemail left for police by a former friend of the sex offender.

Kate and Gerry McCann have held out hope for new leads on Madeleine’s disappearance. Credit: Miguel Villagran/Getty Images

DC Draycott revealed that Brueckner’s former friend, Helge Busching, tipped police off in 2017 by leaving a message on an answering machine.

He explained: “Back then we still had a public phone number which was publicized around the world.

“Members of the public were able to ring in with any information related to Operation Grance – the investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance.

“One of my jobs was to check the answer phone messages. On May 18th I checked the answer phone and there was a message.

“It was from a male by the sound of his voice, he spoke good English and he asked to speak to David Edgar (private investigator). He said he had information and he left a Greek mobile number.

“I then rang this Greek mobile number and spoke to a male I now know to be Helge Lars Busching. He referred to himself as Lars and he gave information in relation to the Madeleine McCann investigation.”

Christian Brueckner is currently the prime suspect in Madeleine’s abduction. Credit: Carabinieri Milano via Getty Images

German prosecutors claimed in 2020 that they had “concrete evidence” that Brueckner had killed Madeleine, however, formal charges still have not been brought due to issues over Brueckner’s last address in Germany leading to confusion over which court would be responsible for the case.

He has previously been convicted of unrelated counts of child sexual abuse and drug trafficking and has been serving a prison sentence in Germany since 2019 for raping a 72-year-old American pensioner in the Algarve region.

He is also accused of five unrelated sexual offenses committed in Portugal between 2000 and 2017, and was given arguido (suspect) status by Portuguese authorities in 2022, meaning he could be extradited to the country for formal questioning.

The Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann
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Brueckner is believed to have been living in a camper van in the Algarve region at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.

A British woman, who had been dating Brueckner at the time, reported that the night before the abduction, he’d told her: “I have a job to do in Praia da Luz tomorrow. It’s a horrible job but it’s something I have to do and it will change my life. You won’t be seeing me for a while.”

His car, a Jaguar XJR6, was also registered to a new owner the day after Madeleine disappeared.

It was also revealed in 2022 that cell phone data had placed Brueckner no more than “five minutes away” from Madeleine’s location at the time of her disappearance.

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