A German prosecutor has written to the parents of Madeleine McCann telling them he has “concrete evidence” she is dead.
But German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters would not disclose what evidence he had that led police to that conclusion.
Mr Wolters told British tabloid The Mirror that he had “re-established contact” with the McCann family in writing.
“We, of course, really consider the fact that it is going to be very hard for the family when we tell them we assume Madeleine is dead.
“But we can’t say why she is dead.
“It is more important that we are successful and we are able to get the culprit, as opposed to just putting our cards on the table and tell them why we think she might be.”
Madeleine went missing in 2007 while on holiday in Portugal with her family.
She was aged three at the time of her disappearance.
Last week Mr Wolters said his office had “findings” that showed a 43-year-old male suspect had murdered Madeleine.
“At the moment, there is insufficient evidence to convict,” he said.
Although he did not mention the suspect by name, media has reported that man as Christian B.
“We have a well-founded suspicion, but this suspicion is below the sufficient level we need to actually bring charges to court,” Mr Wolters told CNN.
The new prime suspect had lived in Portugal’s Algarve region from 1995 to 2007, and also resided in a house in Praia da Luz, the resort town where Madeleine disappeared.
Portuguese prosecutors have confirmed Christian B had two previous convictions in the country, one for disobedience and another for theft, and had served time in prison.
London’s Metropolitan Police last week revealed details of two cars linked to the suspect around the time of the disappearance, and called on the public to step forward with any information about them.