In Search of Justice and Identity

Julia Wendall claims to be Madeleine McCann, the subject of a horrifying missing person case 15 years ago.


Photo Courtesy of The New Daily

The young girl, Madeleine McCann, abducted in 2007.

Sarah Klosky, Staff Writer

Madeleine McCann, a British child abducted at the age of three, is a name that filled the news 15 years ago. Labeled as “the most heavily reported missing person case in modern history,” most had lost all hope of her being found and assumed she was killed by her trafficker.

On May 2nd, 2007, McCann was left alone with her siblings in their apartment located in Praia da Luz, Portugal, when she was abducted. Her parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, dined at a restaurant together when this happened. They did not feel comfortable leaving their children to be watched by a stranger.

The McCann parents were even deemed suspects in 2008 of accidentally murdering (and covering up) Madeleine McCann, which was quickly debunked due to lack of evidence. Then, Christian Brueckner, a now-convicted rapist, was brought up as a suspect in 2022 but was never charged with a crime regarding young McCann.  

This ongoing investigation has remained a mystery to the public for many years; however, more is coming to light now than ever before.

A 21-year-old Polish woman, Julia Wendell, sometimes referred to as Julia Faustnya, recently came forward, claiming to possibly be Madeleine McCann on platforms like Instagram and Tiktok. Dr. Fia Johansson, Wendell’s private investigator, brought a sliver of hope regarding cracking this case: “We have a lot of evidence right now that shows Julia was definitely trafficked to Poland from another country by an international sex trafficking group.” At the time, much of the information Wendell provided supported her claim of possibly being the trafficked child in question.

In pictures of Madeleine McCann, there is a unique mark on the pupil of her eye. Wendell stated that she has this exact same mark on her eye. 

To Wendell, most of her childhood is a blur, and the details that she does remember neither make sense nor correlate with each other. This is a possible sign of abduction at a young age. Wendell has also never seen her birth certificate, despite requesting on multiple occasions to see it. She has not seen pictures of her mom pregnant with her, revealing that her given parents are not biological. 

Madeleine McCann would be 19 years old today, while Wendell is 21. However, she believed that the people who may have kidnapped her changed her age to not raise suspicion.

However, when Wendell submitted a genetic test to discover if her ancestry traces back to the area from which McCann was abducted, the results came back negative. Nevertheless, Wendell is insisting on submitting another DNA test.

This case raises an important question: How many more potentially alive, undiscovered victims like Madeleine McCann are living among us? 

With an estimated of 27.6 million trafficking victims worldwide, there could be many undiscovered survivors that may not realize that they are or once were victims of heinous modern slavery. 

The many myths associated with human trafficking, including that it only happens to women and that the victims are always held against their will, make it extremely hard to pinpoint exactly when trafficking may be occurring. This practice could be occurring in plain sight, yet many may never know it due to the little that most actually know about this topic. 

The most effective way to curb human trafficking is to bring awareness to the topic. With only its stereotypes being talked about, many may not know how to pick out the not-so-subtle signs, which could potentially be lifesaving. With a more thorough education in society as a whole about human trafficking, just imagine how many more victims can be rescued and how much faster these illegal practices can be caught.