Girl who claimed she was missing Madeleine McCann makes shock confession one year later

The girl who made news headlines the world over last year after claiming she was the missing Madeleine McCann has now confessed that she regrets doing so, insisting she “never meant to hurt anyone”.

Julia Wandelt expressed her firm belief that she was Madeleine, missing since disappearing while on a family holiday in Portugal back in 2007 aged just three, throughout the first half of 2023.

Such was the intensity with which her claims were scrutinized that Julia – of Poland – became a minor celebrity in her own right. People remained divided online, with many flocking to the Instagram account she set up titled “@iammadeleinemccan” to either support or refute her claims.

Though Julia repeatedly doubled down on the idea that she was Madeleine, a DNA test on popular American TV show Dr Phil revealed once and for all that she was not.

During her rise to ‘fame’, Julia was heavily criticized by her many detractors. The case of Madeleine McCann, which captured the attention of the world, has never been solved, and there remain to this day any number of theories as to what actually happened.

Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, have always maintained that she was abducted after they left her and her siblings alone in their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal to have a meal at a restaurant close by.

Julia, though, surfaced early last year with assertions that she was Madeleine, supporting her claim with pieces of “evidence” posted on social media, including side-by-side comparisons of physical characteristics she and Madeleine share.

Following the aforementioned DNA test, Julia has faded into relative obscurity, but recently opened up on the BBC’s Why Do You Hate Me? series. During her appearance, she admitted her “regret” at having made the sensational claims.

Julia explained that during therapy she realized the memories of her childhood were patchy, which led her to wonder if she had been adopted. When she asked her family members, though, they dismissed her claims, after which Julia began trawling missing persons websites.

Credit / Getty Images –
Peter Macdiarmid
 / Staff

“I never meant to hurt anyone – including [the] McCanns,” Julia explained. “I really wanted to know who I am.”

She added that things would have played out differently if she had a chance to do it again. “I would never go on social media. It can destroy you.”

At the time of writing, the prime suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance is Christian Brueckner, a convicted rapist serving time in a prison in Germany.

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