There’s been a twist in the gripping case of Cleo Smith with detectives still yet to get their hands on what could be the missing piece of the puzzle.
Detectives are still searching for the sleeping bag Cleo Smith was curled up in when she was allegedly snatched from a tent at the Blowholes camp site.
A police spokesperson said it was believed the red and grey sleeping bag was still unaccounted for more than three weeks after Cleo vanished and was still missing today – days after she was found in a locked house in Carnarvon.
Forensic teams are examining other items from the site and the Carnarvon home where the four-year-old was found after 18 days.
The sleeping bag was deemed a critical item during the search for Cleo, with police releasing an image that was splashed on missing person posters all over the country.
Motorists travelling on the North West Coastal Highway have even been urged to keep an eye out for the item as police conducted search through roadside bins.
Officers waded through 50 cubic metres of rubbish recovered from bins from Minilya to Geraldton, but the sleeping bag was not found.
The item also was not found at the home of Terence Kelly, who is behind bars accused of abducting Cleo from her tent.
Further charges could be laid over the alleged abduction of Cleo, but Western Australia’s deputy police commissioner ruled out claims that a “mystery woman” was being investigated.
Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine said this week that police were trying to “ascertain whether there was anyone else involved” in the four-year-old girl’s alleged kidnapping.
Deputy Police Commissioner Col Blanch was asked on Wednesday about reports that a woman was under investigation, as rumours continued to swirl that accused man Terence Darrell Kelly had an accomplice.
“I can rule that one out,” Mr Blanch told reporters.
Asked if anyone else knew about Cleo’s alleged abduction, he said: “That’s all part of the investigation at the moment … my comment is I’m making no comment on the investigation.”
Pressed further about whether police had now ruled out a second person being involved, Mr Blanch said: “The investigation is ongoing — that’s all I’ll say at this time.”
Mr Kelly, 36, has been charged with two offences, including one count of forcibly taking a child aged under 16. He is yet to enter a plea.
He will remain in a maximum-security prison in Perth until his next court appearance on December 6.
Police continue to guard Mr Kelly’s house while forensic officers gather evidence.
They are expected to remain at the scene for several more days.
Numerous items have already been collected from the house, including a mobile phone and a Bratz doll.
Cleo Smith was found on November 4, 18 days after she first went missing.