After 18-day search, Cleo Smith, an Australian child whose abduction shocked the country, has been located
According to authorities, a four-year-old Australian girl whose disappearance shocked and captivated the nation was discovered in a closed house in her hometown on Wednesday.
“My name is Cleo,” the child stated as police broke into the house after an 18-day nationwide search in Carnarvon, a coastal town of 5,000 people in western Australia.
Cleo has been recovered to her parents after going missing with her sleeping bag from a camping in the Australian outback on Oct. 16. A 36-year-old guy has been arrested, but his name has not been disclosed.
Western Australian Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch told Perth Radio 6PR, “We were looking for a needle in a haystack and we found it.” Officials cried tears of relief and excitement over how their hopes had “come true,” he added.
When she vanished in the middle of the night, her family was camping 60 miles north of her home in Carnarvon. Cleo was vanished not only from her tent but also from the camping grounds when they awoke on Oct. 17.
Police initially examined the area surrounding the campsite, but determined that it was more likely an abduction after additional inquiry. They claimed Cleo would have been far too short to zip the tent back up to the height it had been left at.
As her family pleaded with the public for any information on their daughter’s location, the hunt drew the attention of Australians all around the country.
The body camera video showing four police officers bursting into the house with a search warrant and discovering Cleo brought a tear to Police Commissioner Chris Dawson’s eye.
He refused to say anything about the girl’s ordeal.
Dawson described her as “as excellent as you can expect.”
The experience was dubbed “every parent’s worst nightmare” by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“The fact that our greatest fears were not fulfilled and that horror has come to an end is really a wonderful relief, a moment of great joy,” he continued.
According to Reuters, the police team had 140 individuals working on the investigation, with more than 1,000 suggestions from the public, and the state had offered a $1 million prize in connection with Cleo’s case.
Ellie Smith, Cleo’s mother, recently posted on Instagram to celebrate her daughter’s return, writing, “Our family is entire again.”