A thirty-six-year-old male has been charged with the abduction of 4-year-old, Cleo Smith.
After the news broke out about her disappearance, people took to social media to share prayers and well wishes to her family…
The family of Cleo Smith had arrived at the popular Blowholes campsite on the north-west coast of Western Australia, on October 16.
Arriving at about 6.30 PM, the family settled in at the campsite before having dinner, the Guardian reports.
Cleo then went to bed at around 8 PM.
The family woke up around 6 AM the following morning where they discovered the tent zipper open and Cleo gone.
Her red and grey sleeping bag was also gone.
As per the outlet, Cleo’s mom, Ellie Smith said:
“The tent was completely open. It was about 30cm from open,” she said. “We grew up here, we literally grew up 100 meters from where we stayed at the same age. So we just looked everywhere that we went as kids and we couldn’t find her. We realized we had to call the cops because she wasn’t here.”
By this point, Ellie and her partner, Jake Gliddon, had decided to phone the emergency services.
They also alerted their fellow campers, who by the time the police had arrived, had sent up private drones to search from the sky.
According to the outlet, at the time, authorities didn’t rule out any theories, including abduction.
Investigators in homicide and major crime forensics joined police in their search amid abduction fears, while helicopters and drones were also deployed to search the area.
Speaking with Perth radio station, 6PR, inspector Jon Munday said the search for Cleo was “a race against time.”
“We can’t rule out the fact that Cleo may be still in the area, we can’t rule out the fact she’s left the area and if she’s left the area that is probably is our worst-case scenario because that really paints a sinister picture with what’s happened,” he said while the search was going on.
Cleo’s mom Ellie also spoke with 7News Perth where she admitted she felt “hopeless” about the situation.
“We haven’t really slept,” she said. “Everyone asks us what we need and all we need is our little girl home… The worst part is, we can’t do anything more. It’s out of our hands so we feel hopeless and out of control.”
She also urged people to report it, if they seeing anything.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s small or big or if you’re sure or not… We want our little girl home. We sit and watch the sand dunes and we just think she’s going to run down it and back into our arms, but we’re still waiting.”
Now, after weeks of searching by police and volunteers, Cleo has been found alive and well by police…
And people were overjoyed to hear the amazing news…
As per ABC News, the 4-year-old was found alone in the bedroom of a house just 6-minutes drive away from her family home…
She was reportedly “alive, well, and smiling” when police broke into the property and found her.
Chris Dawson, the man in charge of the investigation, spoke out, saying that officers on the case were “overjoyed to be able to return Cleo to her parents.”
Adding: “We don’t always get these sort of outcomes and while we were very, very concerned we didn’t lose hope.”
Col Blanch, the assistant police commissioner, said Cleo was immediately taken to hospital to be checked over…
“Physically she appears to be in good health but the medical professionals are with her at the moment and it would be wrong for me to say any more than that,” he said.
“Certainly she’s getting the best of care right now.”
Following her discovery, police arrested a thirty-six-year-old man in connection to her disappearance…
The raid of the house in Carnarvon took place after police received a tip on Tuesday from his neighbors.
According to The Evening Standard, neighbors became suspicious of the man, who they describe as a “loner,” after he was seen buying diapers…
“The other day, I think it was Monday, we saw him in Woolworths buying nappies but we didn’t click on who it was or what he was buying them for,” she said. “Until now.”
It was at this moment that everything clicked and they informed the police straight away.
After the news about the man came out, another neighbor spoke out, sharing that he usually “kept to himself,” and would never strike up conversations with those who lived nearby.
The last time he saw the man was just 3 days after Cleo went missing, which rang alarm bells…
According to a source who knew the man, he had apparently been released from jail not long before the incident took place.
“His grandmother raised him… but after she died a year or so ago, nobody went over to [speak] to him,” the source said.
And now, he has been charged for the abduction of Cleo.
The man, named by the BBC as Terence, or Terry, Darrell Kelly, appeared in court where he was charged with multiple offenses that include forcibly or fraudulently taking or enticing a child under sixteen.
We’re glad that Cleo is safe and back with her family.