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Woman who claimed to be Madeleine McCann says she ‘regrets’ her actions

Rhiannon Ingle

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Woman who claimed to be Madeleine McCann says she ‘regrets’ her actions

Featured Image Credit: BBC

The woman who made headlines last year after claiming to be Madeleine McCann says she 'regrets' her actions.

Julia Wandelt made the bold claim on social media that she was McCann, the three-year-old British girl who went missing from Portugal back in 2007.

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Since then, the 22-year-old has opened up for the first time about the situation, her motives, and her regrets.

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Julia, who created social media profiles with the handle @Iammadeleinemccan, appeared on an episode of Dr Phil last year after gaining a lot of attention online, where she confirmed she was waiting for the results of a DNA test to find out her true identity.

While Julia told Dr Phil at the time that she believed she was McCann, her family said otherwise.

Julia Wandelt. Credit: Dr Phil/CBS
Julia Wandelt. Credit: Dr Phil/CBS

They said: "For us as a family, it is obvious that Julia is our daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece, cousin and step-niece.

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"It's obvious that Julia isn't Maddie. We are devastated at this current situation."

The DNA test, which showed that Julia was from Poland with some Lithuanian and Romanian heritage, ultimately confirmed that she was not McCann.

Speaking on a BBC Radio 4 podcast, Why Do You Hate Me?, Julia said she 'regrets' the ordeal and insisted she 'never meant to hurt anyone – including the McCanns'.

Madeleine McCann went missing from Portugal back in 2007. Credit: PA
Madeleine McCann went missing from Portugal back in 2007. Credit: PA
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"I really wanted to know who I am," she continued.

According to Julia, memories from her childhood were 'patchy', leading her to believe they could be part of a big secret - like a possible adoption.

She asked her family to show her pictures of her mother pregnant, but they dismissed her concerns.

This dismissal led to her googling missing person cases and discovering McCann's case.

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After finding some similarities, like both girls having coloboma of the iris, which affects one in every 10,000 babies, she turned to social media as she 'wanted to know the truth'.

Julia described her followers as ' just people who are friends'; however, life in the social media spotlight also had downsides as she received online abuse.

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

"I knew that there will be people who will not believe me or hate me, but I didn't expect that I will get death threats, for example.

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"It was something that I don't understand. People knew that I was abused, and they all knew that I dealt with depression," she recalled.

Gerry and Kate McCann. Credit: Joe Giddens - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Gerry and Kate McCann. Credit: Joe Giddens - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Julie added that she was 'trying to be strong' when people continued to make harrowing threats online.

"I apologised to the McCanns because I don't know them personally," she added. "I don't know if they were watching this journey, if they were sad or whatever.

"And I just wanted to say sorry. Because every person can react in a different way and maybe it brought them more sadness," Julia says.

"I didn't want them to feel sad. I really wanted to know who I am, and I knew that it could make them feel sad."

The BBC later spoke to people connected to the McCanns and the family's official search organisation, Find Madeleine.

According to the publication, they said they would accept Julia's apology and 'forgive her for the situation that unfolded online'.

Topics: UK News, News, Real Life

Rhiannon Ingle
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