Missing girl Cleo Smith, 4, found alive by police in locked house two weeks after disappearance

A 36-year-old man has been taken into custody after police broke into the property

Lamiat Sabin
Wednesday 03 November 2021 12:14
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Missing four-year-old Cleo Smith found 'alive and well' in Western Australia

A four-year-old girl who had went missing from a campsite in Australia has been found “alive and well” locked inside a house.

Cleo Smith disappeared from a remote campsite on the Coral Coast in Western Australia more than two weeks ago on 16 October.

Cleo Smith after her rescue in a picture released by Western Australia Police Force

Police said that she has been found in a house at about 1am local time on Wednesday (3 November) in Carnarvon, a town about an hour south of the Blowholes campsite in Point Quobba – where she vanished from.

A 36-year-old man – who lives in the same town as Cleo’s parents but has no family connection to them, police said – has been taken into custody for questioning by detectives.

WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said police had broken into the house and found the girl in one of the rooms.

He likened the search for Cleo to looking for a “needle in the haystack”.

Mr Blanch said that there was no one major clue or lead that led them to break into the house, rather it was a “collation of a lot of different things” including car and phone “movements”.

He also said: “It’s my privilege to announce that in the early hours of this morning, the Western Australia police force rescued Cleo Smith.

“Cleo is alive and well. One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her, ‘What’s your name?’ She said, ‘My name is Cleo.’”

Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith, who has a baby daughter with Cleo’s step-father Jake Gliddon, wrote on Instagram: “Our family is whole again.”

Ms Smith has said that, before her daughter vanished, the girl had woken up about 1.30am asking for water before going back to bed.

In the morning, Cleo and her sleeping bag were gone from the family’s tent and the entrance was left open.

Police said that the zip was left too high for Cleo to have been able to reach, and that added to their belief that she was taken from the tent between 1.30am and 6am while the family were all sleeping.

The search for Cleo was one of the biggest in Western Australia, with a taskforce of 100 officers, volunteers, and army reservists.

The government of Western Australia had offered a £500,000 reward for any information as to her whereabouts.

Australian PM Scott Morrison said on Twitter that police finding Cleo was “wonderful, relieving news”.

He added: “Our prayers answered. Thank you to the many police officers involved in finding Cleo and supporting her family.”

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said: “To all those who tirelessly searched for this little girl, you deserve our thanks.”

New South Wales Police commissioner Mick Fuller said he had thought the chances of finding Cleo alive were “so slim” but that it was “good old-fashioned police work that resulted in her being found alive.”

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