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A woman, who now owns the plot, reportedly raised the alarm after telling friends: “I’m worried I am sleeping on a dead body.” The suspect, 43, is said to have had access to an isolated German bungalow beside a vegetable plot for three years before vanishing in April 2016. Residents are now urging police to dig at the site in Braunschweig, northern Germany.
The plot of land is about 50 miles from the allotment near Hanover where police found a hidden chamber during a three-day digging operation this week.
Chilling similarities have emerged as neighbours told how the suspect fell foul of officials at the Braunschweig site after digging a cellar beneath the house without permission.
A friend of the suspect told German television that the suspect had planned to turn the basement of his “garden colony” house into a “cellar dungeon” like that of Josef Fritzl, the Austrian monster who held his daughter prisoner for 24 years.
The suspect rented the second plot in October 2013 and would stay overnight even though he had accommodation at a kiosk he ran in Braunschweig. Neighbour Manfred Richter, 80, said: “He excavated and dug out the bottom of the floor of the house and took out all the stone.
“He dug a big hole three by six metres wide. He carried all the stones and rocks out to the front of the house and left a huge mound of it in the garden. He put planks of wood over the top of the hole. It took him nearly two months to do this.
“He worked first thing in the morning and stopped last thing at night.”
Prosecutors in Braunschweig declined to comment on whether a second search will take place.
Officials also declined to say what was unearthed during the operation near Hanover.
Three skip-loads of soil and rubble, along with items including a child’s bucket, were removed from the scene.
Yesterday, experts were carrying out forensic analysis of the rubble.
The suspect, who has had 17 convictions including for child sex offences, is currently in a German jail serving a 21-month term for drug trafficking.
He is awaiting the result of his technical appeal against his conviction in Germany for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old victim in Portugal.
He is known to have been living in a camper van in Praia da Luz when Madeleine, then aged three, went missing in May 2007.
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