The German police are now convinced that Madeleine McCann was killed in Portugal.
Police officers reportedly feared suspect Christian Brueckner had brought Maddie from Praia da Luz to his native Germany, where she disappeared 14 years ago.
But now prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters says officers believe Maddie, who would now be 18, died in Portugal.
The remarks come days after their parents, Kate, 53, and Gerry, 52, said they would never give up hope of finding her.
On May 3, 2007, Madeleine disappeared from Rothley, Leics – days before her fourth birthday.
Mr Wolters said “concrete evidence” would prove that Brueckner murdered Madeleine, but has always refused to give details.
When asked where he believed she was killed, Wolters claimed, “In Portugal. I am optimistic that we will solve this case. ”
The 44-year-old drifter Brueckner is serving seven years for the rape of a 72-year-old American woman in the Algarve in 2005.
Last July, the German police dug up a parcel in Hanover where Brückner, also known as Christian B, lived.
It is believed that they were looking for material, including computer drives, that could link him to the case.
Mr. Wolters added, “Since Christian B did not have the allotment at the time of Maddie’s disappearance, he could not have buried a body there.”
The convicted child sex offender Brueckner (44) was identified by the German authorities as the main suspect for Maddie last June.
They hope to incriminate him this year.
Brücker’s lawyer Friedrich Fulscher insists that the German has nothing to do with Madeleine.
And the UK police are still treating her disappearance as a missing person case.
The McCanns paid tribute to their girl last week and wrote, “Happy 18th birthday, Madeleine. We love you and we are waiting for you and we will never give up. ”