NewsCrime Desk

Madeleine McCann ruled out as victim found in suitcase

Crime DeskBy Shuki Byrne
Missing: Madeleine McCann
Missing: Madeleine McCann

Missing Madeleine McCann has been "totally excluded" as a potential victim after a young girl's remains were found in a suitcase in Australia.

South Australia Police said it had ruled out 43 missing children in connection to the grim discovery next to a remote motorway in Wynarka near Adelaide on July 15.

The decomposed body is that of a fair-haired girl aged between two and a half and four, who was killed at another location in at least 2007.

Blonde Madeleine was three years old when she went missing from the family's holiday apartment in Portugal's Algarve on May 3 2007.

Detective Superintendent Des Bray said: "I can confirm that Madeleine McCann has been totally excluded as a potential victim and UK police have been advised."

The Metropolitan Police have previously said they were aware of reports that a child's remains had been found and had contacted Australian authorities.

Police said the suitcase containing the remains of the child were discovered two weeks ago at the side of a highway. 

Superintendent Des Bray told reporters the dead child, whose sex has not been determined, was likely killed elsewhere.

He said the body was stuffed in a suitcase and left alongside the Karoonda Highway, 130 kilometres (81 miles) east of Adelaide, some four to six weeks ago.

An elderly man was reported to have been seen in the area with a similar suitcase and police are working on establishing the identity of the man.

Police said the child appeared to have died a violent death. 

"It is terribly clear that the child died a violent death under terrible circumstances... everything about this case is tragic," Superintendent Des Bray said.

By the time it was found by a passing motorist on Tuesday, the remains were about two metres away from the bag.

"The child was originally in the suitcase and at some point, somebody has, we believe removed the child from the suitcase," he said.

"It's hard to say what happened, and why, but we know for certain that somebody has come, found the suitcase, opened it to have a look what was in there, tipped out the contents and at that stage become aware that it was most likely human remains."

Police said it appeared that someone had pulled the suitcase from where it had originally been dumped and placed it in full view of the road.

"It was right in the open and easily able to be seen," Bray said.

A number of items of clothing were discovered in the suitcase along with the remains. 

These included a purple Dora the Explorer T-shirt, blue pyjama shorts, a pair of pink tracksuit bottoms and a tutu dress in small sizes.