Cleo Smith was like a ‘little energizer bunny’ as she was rescued, cops sayNovember 3, 2021
COPS who found Cleo Smith have described the four-year-old as a "little energizer bunny" amid details of her miraculous rescue.
Detective Sergeant Cameron Blaine said his team were "elated" when they discovered the little girl – just 18 days after she vanished from her tent at Blowholes campground site in Western Australia.
According to Sky News, Blaine said: "Cleo is physically okay – that was evident from the start."
"It was absolutely fantastic. To see her sitting there was incredible."
He continued: "Finding her caused shock to start with, quickly followed by elation."
"And having seen her a couple times this morning, she is a little energizer bunny.
"She's just a very, very sweet, energetic girl, very trusting and very open with us.
"You know, we all wanted to take turns in holding her.
"It was a really good experience."
Cops had rescued the tot from a locked house as they arrested a 36-year-old "quiet man" over her disappearance.
Leading operatives busted open the door and found the girl in a locked property at around 1am in Carnarvon, Western Australia.
The property where the little girl was found was just a seven-minute drive from her family home.
In moving bodycam footage after Cleo was found, a cop introduces himself to the her before asking: "Are you OK?"
And after a few prompts the four-year-old replied "my name's Cleo" – much to the relief of those around her.
FOUND ALIVE AND WELL
With a big grin on her face, she was later pictured by Police in a hospital bed before eventually being reunited with her family.
Cleo's mum Ellie Smith posted an emotional message to Instagram to confirm the news which simply read: "Our family is whole again."
A close family friend also revealed that the Smith had written to her loved ones to let them know her "beautiful girl is home."
"To be woken at 4.50am with my phone going crazy at 4.50am and see the words Cleo is home alive and safe," the friend wrote on Facebook.
"Seeing Ellie saying her "beautiful girl is home" is nothing short of a miracle. We are so happy for her to be home."
Police also confirmed the four-year-old was found "alive and well" – which is the "outcome we prayed for."
Meanwhile, the authorities have since arrested the suspect – who was described by neighbours as "quiet" – having been seen uncharacteristically buying nappies in the last few days.
Another resident said she heard the sound of a "little girl crying" recently but didn't think it was the missing girl.
The suspect is currently being questioned by detectives, police said.
He has no connection to the family, it was confirmed.
Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said in a statement this evening: "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. A police team broke their way into a locked house in Carnarvon about 1am.
"They found little Cleo in one of the rooms."
He revealed that one of the officers picked the four-year-old girl up in his arms, before asking what her name was.
The tot, who police and civilians in Australia have been desperately looking for, replied: "My name is Cleo."
'MY NAME IS CLEO'
Commissioner Blanch added: "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.
What we know so far…
- Police broke into a locked house at 1am and found Cleo in one of the rooms
- A 36-year-old man has been arrested in connection with her disappearance.
- Acting on a sudden tip off cops swooped on the property.
- The house is just a seven minute drive from her family home
- Cleo's relieved mum Ellie said: "Our family is home again."
"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."
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison praised the police force for their work in rescuing the little girl.
"What wonderful, relieving news," he wrote.
"Our prayers answered. Thank you to the many Western Australia Police Force officers involved in finding Cleo and supporting her family."
Shocked neighbours have described seeing a "quiet man" buying nappies just two days before Cleo was found inside a locked home.
The neighbour told Sunrise: "The other day – on Monday – we saw him in Woolworths buying Kimbies [nappies] and that.
"But we didn't click on what he was buying them for."
Speaking about the man who was arrested, he added: "Everyone knows the person who stays at that house, but no one would have thought it would be him.
"We were shocked."
Local resident Sahntayah McKenzie said she heard the sound of a child crying recently.
She told The West Australian: "Not last night, the night before it…I heard a little girl crying but I wouldn't expect it to be Cleo.
"I didn't expect it would happen in this little neighbourhood, a lot of people know each other."
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said the arrest came after detectives received information that led them to the house.
Just days ago, it was reported that police were close to cracking the missing child case as officers were seen probing the family home for the third time.
'QUIET MAN' ARRESTED
Dubbed the 'Aussie Maddie McCann,' cops launched a desperate hunt for the child after she went missing from the remote campsite in her pink pyjamas.
Her mum Ellie last saw her at 1.30am when she gave her a drink of water, and then her and her partner Jake Gliddon awoke to find the tot missing – sparking a frantic search.
Cleo's disappearance sent shockwaves through the community in Australia.
The police were called around three hours after she was found to be missing as the family had hoped the girl was just hiding nearby – searching the area with other campers.
Police were searching rugged terrain near the remote campsite for the missing girl and said they had "grave concerns for Cleo’s safety".
Authorities previously also offered a $1m reward for information leading to Cleo’s location.
Just yesterday, the police said: "Police investigating the disappearance of four-year-old Cleo Smith continue to leave no stone unturned.
"As part of the investigation, officers collected more than 50 cubic metres of rubbish from roadside bins as far north as Minilya to as far south as Geraldton.
"The rubbish was packed into two trucks and transported to Perth, where four forensics officers and 20 officers spent two days sorting through hundreds of bags, in an effort to find any items that may assist in the investigation."
During the 18 days she was missing, Cleo's best friend pleaded for the "abducted toddler" to come home because "she needs to stay with her family".
Tot Lenaya "Naya" Forbes posed beside a drawing she made for her pal who had vanished.
"I still miss her," little Naya told 7News. "And I reckon she got taken from the tent.
REUNITED WITH HER FAMILY
"I still miss her cause she's lost and I want her to come back."
Meanwhile, a Madeleine McCann top cop Jim Gamble previously said Cleo likely would have known her abductor who may be someone who was following the family ahead of their trip.
Mr Gamble – who was the senior child protection officer in the UK investigation into the Maddie case – explained the chance of the girl being taken away silently by a total stranger in the middle of the night was low.
The top cop also added the "pivotal point" of the case was the fact her sleeping bag was missing from the campsite.
He explained you would expect the bag to be left in the tent if little Cleo had wandered off alone.
Timeline – The Search for Cleo
October 15 – Cleo arrives with her parents and baby sister at Blowhole Campground in Carnarvon, Western Australia
October 16 1.30am – The four-year-old wakes her mum up for a drink before going back to sleep in the tent she shared with her parents and sister
October 16 6.30am – Cleo's mother Ellie wakes to find her daughter has vanished without a trace
October 18 – Locals urged to check their bins for the missing child's sleeping bag
October 21 – Police offer $1million reward to anyone with information that leads them to Cleo
October 24 – Cleo's voice is heard on CCTV 20 metres from where she disappeared from the campsite
October 25 – Cops look for the driver of a car seen between 3am and 3.30am on the morning she vanished
October 30 – Police launch an air, land and sea search for the four-year-old
November 2 – Cleo is found by police "alive and well" locked in a room in Carnarvon – just 43 miles from the Blowholes camp
"On a campsite you can hear a pin drop in the middle of the night," Mr Gamble told The Sun Online.
"If you drag out a child – even if they have their sleeping bag over their head – the child will begin to scream.
"To get the child out of the tent without drawing any attention is a really difficult thing to do."
He explained: "If it is someone they know – and potentially trust – a child would be much more compliant.
"If a child is shocked out of their sleep by movement by someone they don't know they are much more likely to cry out – no question."
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