Cleo Smith, the little Western Australian girl who has been missing for 18 days, has been found alive and well.
WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said Cleo had been found early this morning inside a Carnarvon home, with a man taken into custody.
“It’s my privilege to announce that in the early hours of this morning, the Western Australia Police Force rescued Cleo Smith,” Deputy Commissioner Blanch said. “Cleo is alive and well.
“A Police team broke their way into a locked house in Carnarvon about 1am. They found little Cleo in one of the rooms. One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her ‘what’s your name?’ She said – ‘My name is Cleo’
“Cleo was reunited with her parents a short time later. This is the outcome we all hoped and prayed for. It’s the outcome we’ve achieved because of some incredible police work.
“I want to thank Cleo’s parents, the Western Australian community and the many volunteers. And of course, I want to thank my colleagues in the Western Australia Police Force. I can confirm we have a man from Carnarvon in custody who is currently being questioned by detectives. We’ll have more to say on the rescue of Cleo as the day unfolds. “For now – Welcome home Cleo.
How the nightmare unfolded
Cleo’s mum, Ellie Smith was living every mother’s worst nightmare. Her four-year-old daughter vanished without a trace, mysteriously disappearing from their campsite in Western Australia in the early hours of October 16.
Little Cleo woke at 1.30am on Saturday and asked for a drink of water. It was the last time her mother saw her. When Ellie woke at 6am to give her other daughter, baby Isla, a bottle, she noticed the zipper on the tent was open.
“She would never leave that tent alone,” an emotional Ellie explained at the time.
Since the alarm was raised on that morning, WA Police, SES, drones and aircraft have been desperately searching for the little girl. The Blowholes campsite in Macleod is remote, located about 50kms north of Carnarvon. Police admit they have ‘grave’ concerns for the honey-blonde preschooler with hazel eyes. Authorities say they were exploring all possibilities.
“If you see something, report it,” Ellie pleaded during the huge search. “It doesn’t matter if it’s small or big, or if you’re sure or not. We want our little girl home and how I’m feeling is how I’d never want any mother to feel with their child.”
Ellie and her partner Jake Gliddon, who often camp at the Blowholes, stayed at the campsite, watching the huge search, hoping for any news.
“We can’t do anything, it’s out of our hands, we just feel hopeless and out of control. She would never leave us, she would never leave the tent, when she left she was wearing a jumpsuit and she can’t go to the toilet without my help unzipping it … she would never leave the tent alone.
“If I think of her being taken a million other things cross my mind. I know she’s strong. Cleo was born eight weeks early, she was premature and she’s been strong since the day she was born. I know she can get through whatever she is going through.”
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