A Polish woman’s claims that she was missing British child Madeleine McCann crashed this week, making it just one of thousands of dead ends and red herrings in a mystery that has touched every corner of the world – even Australia.
Julia Faustyna, 21, claimed she could be the grown-up British girl who disappeared at the age of three from a Portuguese resort where her family was holidaying in May 2007, but this was disproved by a DNA test last week.
The tests revealed that she is not Madeline, who was from the English Midlands town of Leicestershire, but was from Poland, with Lithuanian and Romanian heritage.
Dr. Fia Johansson, a private investigator and “psychic medium” who acted as Ms Faustyna’s spokesperson, confirmed the find.
“She’s definitely 100 percent from Poland,” Dr Johansson said.
“At least Julia got the detectives to move forward with the McCann case—she made things happen.”
Mrs. Faustyna, who is also known as Julia Wendell or Julia Wandelt, thought she might be Madeleine because she had the same rare spot in her right iris and other similar facial features.
This year approaches the 16th anniversary of Maddie’s disappearance. She would be 19 and turn 20 in May, if she were still alive
She recalled being sexually assaulted as a child by a “German pedophile” who resembles an official police sketch of the man suspected of kidnapping Madeleine, but said she had no other memories of her early childhood.
Her parents insisted that Mrs. Faustyan was their natural daughter.
Following this, Madeleine’s parents Gerry and Kate McCann issued a short statement through a spokesperson.
“There is nothing to report at the moment. If and when it does, it will come from the Metropolitan Police,” the spokesman said.
These are the latest twists in a case that has attracted global attention since the McCann parents took to the media nearly 16 years ago to plead for the return of their blonde-haired girl.
Madeleine went missing from a holiday apartment in the port town of Praia da Luz in the southernmost tip of Portugal, while her parents were dining with six other friends at a tapas restaurant 100 yards away.
The adults said they monitored Madeleine and her two-year-old twin siblings Sean and Amelie, who turned 18 this year, every 15 minutes.
However, when Kate checked in at 10 p.m. that night, Madeleine’s bed was empty, prompting a frantic search of the resort with help from staff and a call to the police.
Since that fateful night, Portuguese, British and other international police, along with private investigators, have thoroughly investigated thousands of leads and advanced dozens of theories about what happened to Madeleine.
Poland’s Julia Faustyna has claimed she could be Madeleine McCann as she has the same spot in her right eye and does not remember her childhood, but claims to have been sexually assaulted by a German pedophile matching a police drawing of a suspect in the case of the missing British girl
There’s even been an Australian connection when private investigators working for the McCann parents attempted to interview luxury yacht owner and Perth businesswoman Rhonda Wyllie along with her daughter Melissa Karlson in 2009.
Investigators believed Mrs Wyllie’s 100-foot yacht, Willpower, had been moored in the Spanish city of Barcelona three days after Madeleine’s disappearance.
Mrs. Wyllie and Mrs. Karlson, who were 31 years old at the time, denied that she or the yacht had been in Barcelona at the time. There is no suggestion that Mrs. Wyllie and Mrs. Karlson had anything to do with Madeleine’s disappearance.
“Rhonda and Melissa are perplexed by the media coverage over the past 24 hours, especially given that neither was actually in Spain on the night in question,” a spokesman said at the time.
A British businessman said on a night out at the marina three days after Maddie disappeared, he spoke to a 30-year-old woman with an “Australian accent” who asked if he was there to “deliver my new daughter”.
The woman, who has never been identified, reportedly entered a nearby bar and had a heated conversation with a local in fluent Spanish.
The tourist, who accompanied his brother on a bachelorette party, was too shocked to answer and the woman repeated the question two more times. A second member of the party also spoke to the woman before she left.
It is believed that the woman mistook the witness for a man she had arranged to meet.
At an early stage of the investigation, Portuguese police accused McCann’s parents of covering up Madeleine’s accidental death, but those suspicions were dismissed by Portugal’s Attorney General in 2008.
Melissa Karlson was at one point wanted by private investigators for questioning as a possible suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance
It has also been speculated that the young girl walked out of the apartment on her own and, in grief, possibly fell into a hole that had been covered over at a nearby job site the next day.
German serial rapist and child molester Christian Brueckner was identified as a prime suspect in the case in April last year, but despite claims by his country’s police that charges were close to being filed, they have not budged.
Brueckner, who was convicted of raping a 10-year-old girl in Praia da Luz a month before Madeleine disappeared and remained in the region, is serving time in Germany for the rape and murder of a 72-year-old woman.
From his cell he has maintained that he had nothing to do with Madeleine’s disappearance.
Rhonda Wyllie (pictured left talking to British tycoon Richard Branson) owned a luxury yacht that private investigators believed could be linked to Madeleine’s disappearance
In 2007, it was revealed that over 8,600 possible sightings or possible clues about Madeleine had been reported from around the world.
This included the discovery of a suitcase containing the skeletal remains of a blonde young girl next to a highway in Wynarka, near Adelaide in 2015.
Forensic experts believed the girl died in 2007, and since no children matching the remains were missing, it was speculated they could be Madeleine’s.
However, a DNA test found no match.
Recently, the English tabloid The Sun reported that British police will be allowed to continue spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on the ongoing search for Madeleine.
Since 2011, British police have spent an estimated $30 million on the case, but for all the money and man-hours expended, what happened to the three-year-old girl doesn’t seem any clearer now than the night she disappeared.
Her parents, Kate and Gerry, have never given up hope of being reunited with their daughter.
In a statement released last year, the McCanns wrote: “This year marks 15 years since we last saw Madeleine. It doesn’t feel harder than any of the others, but it doesn’t feel any easier either. It’s very long.
“Many people talk about the need for ‘closure’. It’s always been a strange term. Regardless of the outcome, Madeleine will always be our daughter and a truly heinous crime has been committed. These things will remain.
‘It is true that uncertainty creates weakness; knowledge and certainty give strength, which is why our need for answers, for the truth, is essential. We are grateful for the continued work and commitment of the UK, Portuguese and German authorities as it is this combined police effort that will yield results and bring us those answers.
As always, we would like to thank all our supporters for their continued well wishes and support. It is a great comfort to know that no matter how much time has passed, Madeleine is still in people’s hearts and minds.”