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WA Police to give update on rescue of Cleo Smith



WA Police will give an update on the rescue of four-year-old Cleo Smith who was found just a few minutes from home after being missing for more than two weeks.

West Australian Police will give an update on the rescue of four-year-old Cleo Smith who was missing for more than two weeks before detectives swooped on a property just minutes from her home.

Cleo was allegedly abducted from the family tent at Quobba Blowholes in Macleod, near Carnarvon in the state’s north, on October 16.

It prompted a nationwide search before officers descended on a property in Carnarvon just a short distance from the local police station about 1am on Wednesday.

A 36-year-old man has been taken into custody and Cleo has been reunited with her parents.

Police will soon speak to the media about the incident.

More to come

Originally published as WA Police to give update on rescue of Cleo Smith




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Cleo Smith found alive: Expert says discovery a ‘miracle’



A leading criminologist has described finding Cleo Smith alive as a ‘miracle’ before weighing in on the key that may have solved the case.

Finding missing four-year-old Cleo Smith alive was a “miracle” and “highly unusual” according to a leading criminologist.

“I had been expecting the worst,” Dr Xanthe Mallett told Sunrise just hours after Cleo was found at a home in Carnarvon in Western Australia.

“It is highly unusual to find an abducted child alive and well after so long. This is a miracle.”

Cleo went missing from a remote campsite in WA 18 days ago, sparking a wide-scale search and fears she had been abducted.

WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch released a statement on Wednesday morning announcing the extraordinary development.

He also revealed “phone data” helped lead police to the house where Cleo was found.

“It will become apparent when we put the puzzle together … it all led us to one place,” he told the Today show.

Cleo was found when officers dramatically broke into a locked house in Carnarvon in the early hours of the morning, he said.

Dr Mallett said she wasn’t completely surprised that there was finally a conclusion to the case that had baffled detectives for almost three weeks.

“Strategically, police seemed to be clear on where they were going,” she said.

“I am just incredibly pleased it is a positive outcome.”

She was then asked about the vehicle that was spotted leaving the carpark of the campsite just hours after Cleo was last seen by her parents.

Police said it was likely she was abducted in the dead of the night since the tent zip was opened to a height she could not have reached.

A major focus of the police investigation has a mystery vehicle that was spotted by two people.

They said it turned right off Blowholes Rd onto North West Coastal Highway, heading towards Carnarvon, between 3am and 3.30am the day Cleo disappeared.

“It may be that car that was the key to solving this … it may have been something else,” Dr Mallett said.

“They have looked closely in the local community. We always felt this was something targeted. To me, it made no sense this was a random.

“They have looked very closely at those in the community, those who possibly know Cleo. There will be a link to Cleo and her family. Over the next day or so, will find more about what has happened.”

Search crews combed the coastline near the remote camping ground where Cleo went missing, but efforts proved futile.

Police also examined CCTV footage from businesses and homes that might have captured the car or anything else that might be relevant to the investigation.

They then moved search efforts to Cleo’s parents home, which they searched three times. Police said her parents were not suspects and the move was “standard practice”.

Officers searched the home for several hours before leaving with two evidence bags.

A 36-year-old man is now in custody and being questioned by police after Cleo was found at his home in Carnarvon.

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said the man had no connection to the family.

Originally published as Criminologist describes finding Cleo alive a ‘miracle’ before touching on key evidence




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Ben Fordham breaks down as Cleo Smith is found



The radio host broke down as he confirmed the news Australians had spent 18 days hoping to hear.

Sydney radio host Ben Fordham has broken down on air while relaying the news that four-year-old Cleo Smith had been found “alive and well” after being missing for 18 days.

The 2GB host’s voice broke as he confirmed WA Police had broken their way into a locked Carnarvon house in the early hours of Wednesday morning and found the child in a room.

Fordham said the news had hit him “so hard”.

“As the father of little girls, I’m just so happy for their family,” he said.

“I don’t know why it hits so hard it just does – when it’s a little person.”

Fordham spoke to NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller who told him his WA counterpart had also broken down after hearing the news.

“When he got the call this morning he broke down and cried. That speaks volumes,” Mr Fuller said.

“I thought the chances of finding her alive were so slim.”

Originally published as Ben Fordham breaks down as Cleo Smith is found




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Missing WA girl Cleo Smith found police announce, Carnarvon man in custody



After 17 heart-wrenching days, missing girl Cleo Smith has been found alive in WA with police revealing the dramatic final moments.

Four-year-old girl Cleo Smith who went missing from country Western Australia has miraculously been found alive after 17 days of searching.

WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch released a statement on Wednesday morning announcing the groundbreaking development.

He revealed Cleo was found when officers dramatically broke into a locked house in Carnarvon in the early hours of the morning.

“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,” Mr Blanch said.

“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.”

A man from Carnarvon is in custody currently being questioned by detectives.

Deputy Commissioner Blanch said it was the outcome the whole nation had “hoped and prayed for”.

“I want to thank Cleo’s parents, the Western Australian community and the many volunteers,” he said.

“And of course, I want to thank my colleagues in the Western Australia Police Force.

“We’ll have more to say on the rescue of Cleo as the day unfolds. For now – Welcome home Cleo.”

More to come.

Originally published as Missing WA girl Cleo Smith found ‘alive and well’, Carnarvon man in custody




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Cleo Smith search: Pilot reveals chilling detail from remote campsite



A pilot who was one of the first people searching for Cleo Smith made a worrying observation when he arrived at the campsite where she was last seen.

A pilot who was one of the first people to begin the search for missing Cleo Smith says the four-year-old was probably gone from the area long before police arrived on the scene.

Justin Borg received a desperate call from Cleo’s parents on Saturday morning, pleading for him to help find a missing preschooler.

He quickly sent his Coral Coast Helicopter Services team out to search for the girl, as his group of “world class” musterers scoured the surrounding area waiting for police to arrive.

Mr Borg’s team spent the whole day scouring the landscape, but saw nothing that shed any light on Cleo’s disappearance.

“We were just running out the block of possibilities asking ‘where do we look next?” Mr Borg told The West Australian.

“We were pretty sure she wasn’t in the area when we conducted our second search.

“When we go and search for somebody, if they are in the area you find them really quick. Especially if you are talking abnormal colours.”

Mr Borg said the Pink jumpsuit that Cleo was wearing when she disappeared would have stood out starkly against the landscape.

“We flew at a height where we were just glancing over the country side. And then when we found nothing on the broad area search, we started a more slow and thorough search,” Mr Borg said.

“We made sure we looked under every rock, every tree, and every bush with the chopper.”

It has now been seven days since Cleo was reported missing from her family’s tent.

Police believe the four-year-old was taken, with a task force set up to find her.

A spokesman for the Western Australian Police force told NCA NewsWire that officers believed Cleo was located somewhere beyond the campsite.

“They’ve searched absolutely everywhere they possibly can in that area, and they’re confident that she’s not within that area,” the spokesman said.

“It’s moved to an investigative stage, because they’ve done all the searching they can and there’s no evidence or information to suggest she’s wandered off.”

The campsite where the four-year-old vanished a week ago has reopened to the public.

Cleo was staying in a tent with her family at the coastal Blowholes Campground in Macleod, near Carnarvon in Western Australia’s north, when she was reported missing about 6am last Saturday.

After a week of searching the rugged terrain for the young girl, police confirmed it was likely she had been taken from the tent.

The tent zip had been opened higher than Cleo could have reached. Her sleeping bag was also missing.

While the search at the campsite is over, locals and holiday-makers have been urged to remain on the lookout.

Detectives have also revealed there are still witnesses from the crime scene who are yet to come forward.

Police believe there are people who were staying at the campsite who have not identified themselves.

They are urging the mystery campers to make contact.

Police are now performing a radio blitz in a desperate attempt to gather information on Cleo’s whereabouts.

A message is being broadcast across stations WA state imploring residents with any information to come forward to assist police.

“This is an urgent announcement from WA Police Force, police need your help to find Cleo Smith,” the announcement said.

“In the early hours of Saturday the 16th of October, little Cleo vanished from her tent at the Blowholes, near Carnarvon.

“Now the state government is offering $1 million reward. Can you help find her?

“The four-year-old was wearing a Pink onesie. She was wrapped in a sleeping bag. Now she‘s gone.

“Please help us find her. Any information, call Crime Stoppers.”

Police are asking anyone who was within a 1,000 kilometre radius of the Blowholes campsite to send through any dashcam and security footage they have.

Footage of motel check-in and communal areas, service stations, fast food outlets and bakeries, truck stops and camping areas, children‘s clothing stores, pharmacies and cosmetic and camping store are particularly important.

The requested footage or image should be from 6pm on Friday October 15 to 6pm on Sunday October 17.

Footage can be uploaded online or discussed with Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

The police’s message comes as Cleo’s best friend Naya also issued a plea of her own.

Speaking to 7 News, Naya said she “misses (Cleo) a lot now she’s lost”.

“I want her to come back. She needs to come home because she needs to be with her family,” she said.

Naya drew a picture of Cleo and wrote in a note: “Dear Cleo, can you please come back for a little while and come to my nan’s. I miss you, I hope you are all right. Love, Naya.”

A special task force of more than 100 officers has been formed to investigate Cleo’s disappearance.

Between 10 and 20 registered sex offenders live in the Carnarvon area but police said this week that there were no suspects.

Cleo’s disappearance has made headlines in countries around the world, including the UK, US, New Zealand and India.

The state government is offering a $1m reward for information that resulted in finding Cleo, or led to the arrest and conviction of whoever was involved in her disappearance.

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 131 444.

Originally published as Pilot who helped search for Cleo Smith says girl was gone from the campsite before police arrived




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Police are scouring missing preschooler Cleo Smith’s home for evidence of a break in



Police have taken their search to the home of Cleo Smith’s mother, as they probe whether the girl’s abductor had previously visited.

Forensic officers are at the home of Cleo Smith’s mother searching the property for any potential evidence that may help police crack the mysterious case.

The officers are reportedly looking for signs of a break-in, and for evidence of anyone lurking around the vicinity in the days leading up to Cleo’s disappearance.

A green spray to detect fingerprints could be seen on the fence line, while a forensic van was parked outside the house with police ready to collect any evidence they find.

Cleo and her mother Ellie lived in the small coastal town of Carnarvon on Western Australia’s northern coast before the four-year-old went missing last Saturday.

Between 10 and 20 registered sex offenders live in the Carnarvon area but police said this week that there were no suspects.

Cleo disappeared from her family’s tent at the coastal Blowholes Campground in Macleod, near Carnarvon, and was reported missing about 6am last Saturday.

After a week of searching the rugged terrain for the preschooler, police confirmed it was likely she had been taken from the tent.

The tent zip had been opened higher than Cleo could have reached. Her sleeping bag was also missing.

Detectives have revealed there are still witnesses from the crime scene who are yet to come forward.

Police believe there are people who were staying at the campsite who have not identified themselves and are urging the mystery campers to make contact.

Authorities have now ceased their search of the campsite area and are appealing to the wider community for help in locating the missing girl.

A message is being broadcast across stations in WA imploring residents with any information to come forward to assist police.

“This is an urgent announcement from WA Police Force, police need your help to find Cleo Smith,” the announcement said.

“In the early hours of Saturday the 16th of October, little Cleo vanished from her tent at the Blowholes, near Carnarvon.

“Now the state government is offering $1 million reward. Can you help find her?

“The four-year-old was wearing a Pink onesie. She was wrapped in a sleeping bag. Now she’s gone.

“Please help us find her. Any information, call Crime Stoppers.”

Police are asking anyone who was within a 1000km radius of the Blowholes campsite to send through any dashcam and security footage they have.

Footage of motel check-in and communal areas, service stations, fast food outlets and bakeries, truck stops and camping areas, children’s clothing stores, pharmacies and cosmetic and camping store are particularly important.

The requested footage or image should be from 6pm on Friday October 15 to 6pm on Sunday October 17.

Footage can be uploaded online or discussed with Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Anyone with other information is urged to call police on 131 444.

Originally published as Police investigating whether Cleo Smith’s abductor visited her home




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