According to authorities, a four-year-old girl who had been missing for 18 days in a remote section of Western Australia was discovered alive and well in a locked house.
On the 16th of October, Cleo Smith vanished from her family’s tent at a camping near Carnarvon, prompting a major search.
Detectives have taken custody of a 36-year-old guy and are questioning him. In the early hours of Wednesday, police forced their way into a property in Carnarvon, following forensic clues.
Cleo’s parents have been reunited with her after making urgent pleas for her return. Her mother, Ellie Smith, wrote on Instagram, “Our family is complete again.”
The man in jail, according to authorities, has no relation to the Smith family. There have been no charges filed.
Cleo was discovered around a six-minute drive from her family’s home in Carnarvon, a town of about 5,000 people. Her family was camping in Quobba Blowholes on the first night of their vacation when she went missing between 01:30 and 06:00 on October 16th.
The secluded site near Macleod, located about 900 kilometres north of Perth, is a popular tourist destination on the state’s Coral Coast, which is famed for its windswept seaside vistas, sea caves, and lagoons.
Cleo had been sleeping close to her younger sister’s cot on an air mattress. Cleo was gone and the tent entrance was open when her mother, who had been sleeping in the second room of the tent, awoke in the morning. This sparked suspicions of kidnapping, according to police. Cleo could not have left the tent on her own, according to Ms. Smith.
A squad of 100 officers from the state capital, Perth, was dispatched to assist in the huge air, land, and marine search. To sweep sparsely populated areas, reconnaissance planes were deployed. For information on Cleo’s whereabouts, authorities announced a reward of A$1 million.
The case garnered international interest, and bounty hunters were said to have travelled to the area when the $100,000 prize was posted.
The news that Cleo had been discovered brought a sigh of comfort to the locals.