Police fear four-year-old Cleo Smith was abducted from her family’s tent as they search for clues about her mysterious disappearance.
It’s been more than 14 days since Western Australian girl Cleo Smith vanished from the tent where her parents and baby sister were also sleeping. Her disappearance remains a mystery.
The four-year-old has vanished without a trace after her mum Ellie Smith woke at 6am to find her missing on Saturday, October 16.
The last time saw her little girl was at 1.30am when she asked for a drink of water. The family’s tent was set up at a remote campsite at the Blowholes, which is almost 10 hours away from Perth.
In signs that Cleo had been abducted in the middle of the night, her sleeping bag was missing and the entrance to the tent was unzipped to a height that the young girl could not have reached to let herself out.
How the day unfolded
When Cleo’s parents discovered her missing, they conducted a frantic search of the campsite before making a Triple 0 call at 6.23am.
Seven minutes later police were dispatched, arriving at the campsite at around 7.10am, with a drone requested at about 7.30am.
A roadblock was set up at about 8.34am to the entrance to the Blowholes camp and the site was cordoned off about two hours after the police arrived.
Homicide were detectives were sent to the scene later that day.
Since then police have conducted numerous land, air and sea searches in one of the biggest hunts in WA history.
They have also forensically examined the family home in Carnarvon for further clues about Cleo’s disappearance, including dusting windows and doors for fingerprints and taking away brown paper bags.
Her family are not considered suspects by police.
They have not returned to their modest home. It’s too painful to be there without Cleo. Meanwhile, the little girl’s scooter still sits out the front of the house.
The WA goverment has offered a $1 million reward to help solve the case, while there has been a nationwide appeal calling on the public to help.
There are now 100 members of Taskforce Rodia, which was set up in the wake of Cleo’s disappearance.
But heartbreakingly, there are still no signs of Cleo, with fears she could be anywhere in Australia by now.
The Blowholes is in such a remote part of the country that there is only one sealed road into the area, which comes off the North West Coastal Highway and ends at the campsite.
Police are searching for a car that was spotted in the darkness by two men apparently heading to work and have appealed for the driver to come forward.
It was seen turning right off Blowholes Rd onto North West Coastal Hwy, heading towards Carnarvon, between 3am and 3.30am the day Cleo disappeared. The description given by the man was of a passenger vehicle, such as a sedan or wagon.
Police have repeatedly indicated the person may not be a suspect but may have relevant information.
But it’s been a week since the appeal and no one has come forward.
CCTV footage from a Rio Tinto mine site and nutrition business along the Blowholes Road have given no more clues about the car and who was in it.
Disturbingly, there are a number of dirt roads and trails where someone could disappear along without being seen and police have indicated they are looking into them.
A back way out of the campsite is also being investigated by police.
Despite collecting CCTV from across the state, with a big focus on businesses located in Carnarvon where the family lived – which is about 70km from the Blowholes – as well as dashcam footage, there have been no solid leads for police either.
Carvarvon locals have rallied around the young family, with missing child posters and stickers flooding the town on business doors, as well as people’s cars.
Lead investigator Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde confirmed on Friday that police did not have any suspects “at this stage” in the mysterious case.
He flew into the town on Thursday to meet with Cleo’s parents and to tour the campsite, revealing 100 people at the Blowholes on the day of the girl’s disappearance had been interviewed, but they still had others to find.
There’s also been 200 reported sightings of Cleo, but all have led to nothing, he said.
Superintendent Wilde also confirmed police were reviewing past reports of approaches to children in the area amid rumours of prior predatory behaviour, including peeping Toms.
Meanwhile, the Blowholes campsite has reopened this week and some caravans have parked at the site, while a few people have pitched their tent in the remote area.
Cleo’s mum shared a reward poster for her little girl just two days ago on Instagram and urged people to call Crimestoppers with any information at all.
The key times on Saturday, October 16:
Just before 6.30am the first car with two officers was sent to the scene under priority two, with lights and sirens going, arriving at 7.10am;
6.41am a second vehicle was sent, followed by a third at 7.44am;
7.26am a protected forensic area was set up at the scene;
7.33am police requested a drone operator attend;
8am some family and friends arrived to help with the search. Meanwhile, detectives visited the family home, then went to the Blowholes and began stopping vehicles close to the search area;
8.09am a local company helicopter arrived to help with the search;
8.11am SES team requested and they arrived just over an hour later;
8.24am Inspector Jon Munday arranged to leave Geraldton to take command in Carnarvon. Police air wing and volunteer search and rescue were also contacted;
8.34am police set up a roadblock at the Blowholes;
9.30am detectives sat with Ms Smith and remained with her all day; and
11am homicide detectives were deployed.