The body of a girl who’d been dubbed ‘the German Madeleine McCann’ may have been discovered.
Peggy Knobloch went missing on her way back from primary school in Bavaria 15 years ago, when she was nine years old.
A huge search stretched as far as Turkey and the Czech Republic, with police suspecting she had been kidnapped then – as time passed – murdered.
The German army joined the search, sending military planes to try and track her, but despite the international manhunt there was no sign of her body until now.
Human remains were found by a member of the public who was out gathering mushrooms in the woods outside Thueringen over the weekend.
Prosecutor Herbert Potzel told the BBC that the remains, found near her home, ‘most probably’ belonged to the girl, but police will carry out DNA tests to be certain.
As well as her bones, police found personal belongings which they believe the child may have had with her when she disappeared.
Reports suggest the girl may have been buried in a shallow grave which became disturbed by animals, pushing her bones to the surface.
More than 100 police officers have been sent to the woods to try and find any clues which could help them discover who killed her.
In 2002, a local man with a learning disability was accused of killing her to cover up sexually abusing her. He made a confession and was jailed for life.
However, he later withdrew his confession, and walked free.
Peggy’s disappearance on May 5, 2001 sparked massive media coverage and a global search, comparable to the hunt for Madeline McCann, the British toddler who went missing from an apartment in Portugal’s Praia da Luz.
There were fears Peggy could have been abducted and taken abroad, as was a line of enquiry in the McCann case.