Cleo Smith found by Australian police 19 days after disappearing from campsite

Cleo Smith was found by police in a private home about 48 kilometers from the campsite and has been reunited with his parents, police in Western Australia say in a statement.

A local man is in custody and is currently being questioned by detectives, it added.

In a video post on the police force’s public Facebook page, Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said: “It is my privilege to announce that in the early hours of this morning, Western Australia Police Force rescued Cleo Smith. Cleo is alive and well.”

Blanch said a police team broke into a locked house in Carnarvon around 6 p.m. 1 local time (13.00 ET) and found a child who identified himself as Cleo.

One of the officers who found her picked up the child and asked her name, Blanch said. She replied, “My name is Cleo,” he said.

“This is the result we all hoped and asked for,” he added.

Cleo Smith’s mother wrote on Instagram: “Our family is whole again”

The child disappeared from the campsite

Cleo disappeared from his family’s tent at the Blowholes campground in Macleod, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the town of Carnarvon in the early hours of Saturday, October 16th.

It was the family’s first trip to the tourist resort since the birth of Cleo’s younger sister, and their first night in the tent after arriving around noon. 18 Friday night, according to police.

Cleo’s mother, Ellie Smith, told reporters early in the search that Cleo woke up at 6 p.m. 01.30 and asked her for a drink of water before going to bed again. When Smith woke up again at 6, Cleo was gone.

The girl’s disappearance triggered a massive police search of several square kilometers around the site with helicopters, drones and officers flying in from the state capital Perth.

Cleo’s sleeping bag was also missing, and the zipper on the tent was at such a height that police suspected she had been abducted.

Cleo was last seen sleeping in a red and black sleeping bag and was wearing a pink / purple one-piece sleeping suit with a blue and yellow pattern

Smith and her partner Jake Gliddon publicly appealed for help finding their child. Less than a week into the search, the Western Australian government also offered a reward of $ 1 million ($ 750,000) for information leading to her.

Few clues appeared in the weeks leading up to Cleo’s discovery.

Police had issued calls to the driver of a vehicle seen heading south on the main road from the campsite to Carnarvon to step forward. On Tuesday, police had not revealed whether they had found the vehicle.

Earlier in the week, police sorted into hundreds of bags of garbage collected from trash cans in the road north and south of the campground where Cleo disappeared. Officers also began visiting homes in the Carnarvon area to look for signs of the girl.

Officers collected more than 50 cubic meters of debris from roadside buckets as far north as Minilya to as far south as Geraldton.

Following Cleo’s discovery on Wednesday, Xanthe Mallett, a criminologist at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, said the chances of finding a missing child following a suspected abduction of a stranger were “very low”.

“When a child disappears, especially after such a long time, everyone thought the worst, and it’s just such an amazing result,” she said.

Mallett said Western Australia Police appeared to be closing in on Cleo earlier this week by releasing only small and seemingly strategic amounts of information to the public.

A sign offering a $ 1 million reward for information about the missing girl Cleo Smith at a digital tower on Yagan Square digital in Perth, Saturday, October 30th.

“They used public support and the pressure they exerted through the media to put pressure on people or perhaps around the perpetrator who may have known something,” she said.

It is unclear if anyone has claimed the reward that the police have offered for information.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the news as “wonderful” on his official Twitter account. “What wonderful, reassuring news. Cleo Smith has been found and is at home safe and sound. Our prayers were answered. Thank you to the many police officers involved in finding Cleo and supporting her family.”

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