The mother of missing 4-year-old Cleo Smith has broken her silence after her daughter was rescued this morning.
“Our family is whole again,” Ellie Smith posted on Instagram, sharing an image of a news alert about Cleo’s discovery.
Cleo, who had been missing for 18 days after disappearing from the family tent at the Quobba Blowholes campground, in Macleod near Carnarvon in Western Australia’s north, on October 16, was found “alive and well” in the early hours of Wednesday morning, police said.
“It’s my privilege to announce that in the early hours of this morning, the Western Australia Police Force rescued Cleo Smith,” deputy commissioner Col Blanch said in a statement.
A post shared by Ellie Smith (@elliejaydee23)
“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. 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. 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. 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.”
Western Australia’s police commissioner broke down and cried after hearing the news Cleo had been found “safe and well” overnight.
WA Police broke their way into a locked Carnarvon house in the early hours of Wednesday morning and found Cleo in a room.
“When he got the call this morning he broke down and cried. That speaks volumes,” NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller told Sydney radio station 2GB of a conversation he had with his WA counterpart Chris Dawson.
“For a veteran in policing, it just speaks volumes in terms of the amount of effort they put in to finding her.
“You wouldn’t see too many tears from commissioners these days.
“I thought the chances of finding her alive were so slim.”
Fuller said Dawson had told him “WA police never gave up on Cleo and it was just good old-fashioned police work that resulted in her being found alive”.
An expert says WA Police have specialised officers to interview children, which will ensure that Cleo will be interviewed in a sensitive and safe way.
Commenting on the policing, Dr Celine Van Golde said: “Even though Cleo is only 4 years old, she will be able to provide an accurate account of what happened to her, as long as proper interviewing techniques are used.”
— with NCA NewsWire
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