PERTH, Western Australia – 4-year old Cleo Smith, the young girl who captured the hearts of a nation, and who had been missing for 18 days after it was suspected she had been abducted, has been found safe and well.
A man is in custody and is being questioned about the matter.
West Australian police who led a painstaking search, were rewarded when they broke into a locked-down home in Carnarvon in the state’s northwest in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
They found Cleo in a bed. Asked by an officer what was her name. She replied, “My name is Cleo.”
Cleo disappeared at a campsite on 16 October at Quobba Blowholes, less than an hour’s drive from their home at Carnarvon. She was last seen asleep in the family’s tent, where it is suspected she was abducted between the hours of 1:30 am and 6:00 am.
The West Australian government offered a $1 million reward in the first week since her disappearance as the story gripped not only the state but the nation.
“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,” Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said in a statement issued Wednesday morning.
“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,’ Smith said.
“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,” the deputy commissioner said.
“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,” he added.
It was later learned the man at the centre of police inquiries is aged 36.
During the search police investigated more than 200 sightings, combed numerous items of rubbish looking for clues, and spent thousands of hours monitoring social media posts.