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World News

‘My name is Cleo’: Missing four-year-old found in locked house


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Police who found missing Cleo Smith in a locked house in Australia say they were “shocked” and then “elated” when the four-year-old confirmed: “My name is Cleo.”

Detective Sergeant Cameron Blaine told reporters they were not prepared for such a happy outcome, despite “always” hoping for it.

“It was absolutely fantastic. To see her sitting there was incredible,” he said.

The child disappeared from a campsite in Western Australia more than two weeks ago.

A 36-year-old local man was arrested after a late-night raid at the house in the coastal town of Carnarvon.

Cleo Smith
Image: Cleo has been checked over in hospital

While one of the other officers picked Cleo up, Detective Blaine said he was concerned to make sure it really was her.

“I said: ‘What is your name?’ She didn’t answer, I asked again and she didn’t answer. I asked a third time and then she looked at me and said: ‘My name is Cleo.’ And that was it. Then we turned around and walked out of the house.”

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Lead investigator superintendent Rod Wilde said officers were overcome with emotion after finding Cleo.

“We all cried,” he said. “Most definitely. It was an amazing moment. Suddenly after hearing that, we were on such a high. It was fantastic.”

Detective Blaine then contacted Cleo’s parents, who were “ecstatic”, he said.

“Things developed so quickly,” he continued. “We didn’t really have time to prepare them. And we didn’t want to give them any false expectations about what might happen. We didn’t know ourselves. It is always a delicate process when it comes to that.”

Cleo Smith’s mother Ellie Smith, standing with her partner Jake Gliddon, holds up a photo of her missing daughter while addressing the case from a police truck at Blowholes campsite, outside Carnarvon, Australia, October 19, 2021. Picture taken October 19, 2021. AAP Image/POOL, James Carmody via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. AUSTRALIA OUT. NEW ZEALAND OUT
Image: Cleo’s mother, Ellie Smith, and her partner Jake Gliddon

Detective Blaine said it was an “honour” to be able to witness the child’s reunion with her parents in hospital, adding that Cleo is “physically OK – that was evident from the start”.

Cleo’s mum, Ellie Smith, wrote on social media: “Our family is whole again.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there was “huge relief, a moment for great joy”.

Western Australia state Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said “dogged, methodical police work” led to Cleo being found.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2021

Written by: Rother Radio News

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