The Polish woman who made headlines last month after claiming she was Madeleine McCann has suffered a huge setback after extensive facial recognition analysis determined that it’s highly unlikely.
Julia Wendell, also known as Julia Faustyna or Julia Wandelt, went viral in February after sensationally claiming that she is Madeleine McCann, the missing British girl who vanished from a holiday resort in Portugal in 2007, aged three.
The case, which captured the attention of the world, has never been solved, and there remain any number of theories as to what happened.
Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, have always maintained that she was abducted after they left her and her siblings alone in their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal to have a meal at a restaurant close by.
Julia, 21, surfaced earlier this year with assertions that she is Madeleine, supporting her claim with pieces of “evidence” posted on social media, including side-by-side comparisons of physical characteristics she shares with Madeleine.
Wendell created an Instagram account named “Help me, I need to talk with Kate and Gerry McCann” – the username is “iammadeleinemccan”.
Despite heavy criticism online, the Polish native has refused to back down and, according to Sky News, submitted several forensic tests to establish her DNA sequence – she’s still waiting for the results of a test to identify her ancestry.
What’s more, Kate and Gerry McCann are also said to have agreed to a DNA test that would confirm or debunk that they are related to Wendell.
The latest information, however, casts a huge shadow of doubt over the 21-year-old’s claim after a Swiss artificial intelligence company ran an extensive facial recognition test to determine if what she’s said might be true.
Per Sky, Ava-X submitted photos of Wendell and McCann into its Iris facial recognition software. The result? The software determined it was “practically impossible” for the young woman to be the missing Madeleine.
Christian Fehrlin, the company’s co-founder, told reporters that the system was able to find a match between childhood and adult photos of Wendell, but was unable to do the same thing with photos of Madeleine.
“When we did the same with Maddie’s picture, no match could be found,” Fehrlin told Swiss newspaper Blick.
Wendell, who says she has very few memories of her childhood, sought to strengthen her claim on social media by drawing comparisons between her features and those of Madeleine McCann.
“I have similar eyes, the shape of face, ears, lips, I had the gap between the teeth [as Madeleine],” she wrote in one Instagram post.
She did, however, concede that she’s “open” to the possibility that she might be another missing child.
The young woman’s family, meanwhile, has vehemently condemned her claims.
“For us as a family, it is obvious that Julia is our daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece, cousin, and step-niece,” the family said in a statement.
“We have memories, we have pictures. Julia also has these photos, because she took them from the family home with the birth certificate, as well as numerous hospital discharges.”
I don’t know about you, but I hope the McCanns can get some measure of peace soon.
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