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Madeleine McCann: Polish police dispute woman’s claims she is missing girl

On the left is Julia Wendell, the Polish woman who claims to be missing girl Madeleine McCann, on the right. @iammadeleinemccan/Family of Madeleine McCann

Polish police are reportedly disputing a young woman’s claims that she may be Madeleine McCann.

Julia Wendell, who also goes by Julia Faustyna or Julia Wendlet, attracted a huge amount of attention last week after posting videos to social media where she attempted to identify herself as the missing three-year-old girl who vanished in 2007 while on vacation with her British family in Portugal.

The crux of Wendell’s “proof” regarding physical resemblance revolves around McCann’s rare eye disorder, one Wendell claimed to share. When McCann went missing, a coloboma abnormality in her right eye was used as a major identifying feature. (A coloboma is a hole in the structure of the eye, often causing a visible tear or hole.)

https://www.instagram.com/reel/Co0EKBXJs2j/

She also pointed to similarities in a dimple and several moles and freckles.

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Now, Pawel Noga from the Provincial Police Headquarters in Wroclaw told Polish outlet Gazeta late last week that they have “ruled out” the connection, according to a translation verified by Global News.

They did not explain how they arrived at their conclusion but said their investigation continues.

Wendell, who claims to be of sound mind, has said she is not sure about her identity and does not have many memories of her childhood.

Her videos have amassed tens of thousands of followers.

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“I don’t remember most of my childhood but my earliest memory is very strong and It’s about holidays in hot place where was beach [sic] and White or very light (coloured) buildings with (apartments),” Wendell said in an Instagram post from her account, @iammadeleinemccan.

In response, Wendell’s family released a statement last week, saying they are “devastated” by the claims and the worldwide media attention it has garnered.

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“It is obvious that Julia isn’t Maddie,” they wrote in a statement on the “Missing Years Ago” Facebook page, adding that their daughter has received therapy from psychologists and psychiatrists in the past, but suggesting that may have stopped recently.

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“She refuses treatment, doesn’t take medicines regularly … we are devastated at the current situation.”

Wendell claimed last week that McCann’s parents, Kate and Gerry, had agreed to a DNA test, but a spokesperson for the family would not confirm the claim to Fox News Digital.

“Due to an active police investigation, Gerry and Kate are not issuing any statements or giving interviews unless requested by The Metropolitan Police,” a spokesperson for the Official Find Madeleine Campaign said in a statement to Fox.

If alive, Madeleine would be 19 years old. Though Wendell is 21, she fears her age may be incorrect.

The response to Wendell’s claims online has been intensely polarizing. Many are calling for London’s Metropolitan Police to investigate her claims, while others accuse Wendell of being a malicious fraudster.

On May 3, 2007, three-year-old Madeleine went missing from a hotel room in Praia da Luz, Portugal, while on vacation with her parents. Her parents were dining with friends at a nearby tapas bar, leaving Madeleine and her two siblings asleep in their bedroom on the evening she disappeared.

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FILE - In this May 2, 2012 file photo, Kate and Gerry McCann pose for the media with a missing poster depicting an age progression computer generated image of their daughter Madeleine at nine years of age, to mark her birthday and the 5th anniversary of her disappearance during a family vacation in southern Portugal in May 2007, during a news conference in London.
FILE – In this May 2, 2012 file photo, Kate and Gerry McCann pose for the media with a missing poster depicting an age progression computer-generated image of their daughter Madeleine at 9 years of age, to mark her birthday and the 5th anniversary of her disappearance during a family vacation in southern Portugal in May 2007, during a news conference in London. Sang Tan / The Associated Press

Her disappearance launched a cross-country investigation and resulted in an international media frenzy.

For over a decade, Portuguese, English and German police forces have collaborated in an attempt to locate McCann and her kidnapper.

Last year, German authorities said “new evidence” connected German native Christian Brückner to McCann’s murder. Brückner is a convicted rapist, but he has yet to be charged in this case. He lived in the Praia da Luz area from 1995 to 2007.

Brückner is serving a seven-year prison sentence for raping a 72-year-old woman in 2005 in the same area where Madeleine went missing. He has also been convicted of drug charges.

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It was the first time a formal suspect had been named in the McCann case since Madeleine’s parents were declared such in 2007. They were later cleared of suspicion in 2008.

In June 2020, German police said that Madeleine is assumed dead but British authorities continue to treat her disappearance as a missing person case.

With files from Global News’ Sarah Do Couto and Kathryn Mannie

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