Strong new lead in Maddie McCann case
DETECTIVES hunting for Madeleine McCann have travelled to Bulgaria to pursue a new lead, it has been revealed.
Investigators are seeking a mysterious figure dubbed "the woman in purple" who may hold the key to the British girl's disappearance a decade ago in Portugal.
The Sun newspaper has revealed that the woman's husband, now dead, is a convicted paedophile.
The couple were working as domestic helpers near the Algarve holiday apartment where Madeleine vanished in 2007, aged three.
Locals reported them to police in the days following the disappearance but nothing was followed up until Scotland Yard officers re-examined statements recently.
Witnesses said the woman was seen close to the Ocean Club complex in Praia da Luz where the McCanns were staying.
She and her husband vanished after Madeleine went missing. Cops have been unable to locate the wife despite extensive searches.
But a recent breakthrough has now taken police to Bulgaria in eastern Europe, it was reported overnight.
It comes after the revelation last month that police had identified a key "person of significance" in a shock new development.
A source close to Scotland Yard's search Operation Grange said the person is now a "critical line of inquiry" in the investigation, according to The Times.
Parents Kate and Gerry, both 49, were dining near their holiday apartment on the evening of May 3, 2007 when Madeleine was taken but her younger twin siblings were left.
When Kate returned to check on the kids at around 10pm that evening, she discovered that Maddie was not in her bed and was missing.
It remains one of the most high-profile missing person cases in modern history.
In 2010, Maddie's distraught parents met with then-home secretary Theresa May to talk about the hunt for their daughter.
The following year, Scotland Yard launched its own review, named Operation Grange, into the case at the behest of the future PM.
Two years later Scotland Yard said it had uncovered new leads while Portuguese police reopened their case.
In October 2015, Operation Grange was scaled down from 29 detectives to just four.
Last December, the government injected extra funding into the operation as cops investigated a new theory that Maddie was snatched by a human trafficking ring.
And a former Met police chief has called for fresh interview of Maddie's parents and the Tapas Seven - the name given by UK press to the dinner companions that evening - who have never been quizzed by British cops.
Maddie would have turned 14 on May 12, 2017.
A number of potential leads have emerged since the little girl vanished, but none have amounted to anything and no arrests have ever been made.
Elements of this story originally appeared on The Sun and are reproduced here with permission.