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Girl who thought she was Madeleine McCann ‘regrets’ saying she was missing girl

Girl who thought she was Madeleine McCann ‘regrets’ saying she was missing girl

She has since apologised to Madeleine McCann's parents

A girl who claimed she was Madeleine McCann has since said she 'regrets' doing so and 'never meant to hurt anyone'.

Polish woman Julia Wandelt caused quite a stir last year when she said she thought she was actually the British girl who had gone missing in Portugal in 2007.

Madeleine McCann was a three-year-old when she disappeared and has been missing for almost two decades now, with her case continuing to be one of the most widely reported in history.

A sizeable online community has also built up around the case, and when Wandelt created the Instagram account @iammadeleinemccan in early 2023, she gained a number of followers.

However, when she went on American TV show Dr Phil for a DNA test, the results confirmed that she was not McCann and was indeed Polish.

Speaking to the BBC for its Why Do You Hate Me? series, Wandelt has now said she 'regrets' saying she was McCann, and explained why she made her posts on social media.

The Polish woman said that during therapy she realised memories of her childhood were patchy and started to wonder if there might have been something in those gaps, such as the possibility that she was adopted.

DNA testing told her she was Polish and not Madeleine McCann as she'd claimed.
Dr Phil/CBS

She asked relatives to show her pictures of her mother pregnant with her, but they dismissed her concerns and told her she wasn't adopted.

Julia thought that the lack of answers from her family could mean she might have been kidnapped and took to missing persons websites, finding the case of Madeleine McCann.

She thought they shared a resemblance and also thought they had similar freckles on their leg, while one of the cornerstones of her claim was that they both had coloboma of the iris, a rare eye defect which affects one in 10,000 children.

Wandelt continued with her social media posts as she 'wanted to know the truth', and told the BBC she was not trying to seek fame or gain fans.

"I never meant to hurt anyone - including [the] McCanns," she said. "I really wanted to know who I am."

Julia Wandelt said she thought she was Madeleine McCann and wanted to know the truth.
Handout/Getty Images

She said that if she could turn back time she would never have made the profile, saying: "I would never go on social media. It can destroy you."

After Julia told her followers about being a victim of child abuse and her struggles with depression, she received a torrent of online abuse including death threats - though some supportive sorts have stayed with her after the DNA test revealed she was not Madeleine McCann.

She has since apologised to Kate and Gerry McCann, saying that she did it because she 'wanted to know who I am' and believed at the time that she might be able to help them find their missing child.

McCann's parents believe they will eventually know the truth and the current prime suspect in the case is Christian Brueckner, a rapist currently serving time in a prison in Germany.

Featured Image Credit: Dr Phil / Handout/Getty Images

Topics: Madeleine McCann, Viral, World News