Police stormed their driveway to a suburban home on Wednesday and rescued a 4-year-old girl whose disappearance from her family’s camping tent on Australia’s remote west coast ago. more than two weeks frightened and captivated the country.
Police officers cried in relief after seeing body cam video of an officer picking up the woman, Cleo Smith, and hearing her say, “My name is Cleo. A 36-year-old resident was arrested after a nighttime attack on a beach house in the town of Carnarvon, following police intelligence on Tuesday.
The woman was reunited with her mother Ellie Smith and her stepfather Jake Gliddon after her rescue. “Our family is whole again,” the mother said on social media.
Western Australian State Police Commissioner Chris Dawson did not elaborate on what happened to the girl. It is “as you would expect,” Dawson said. “It’s a test. I won’t go into details except to say we’re thankful he’s alive. ”
Dawson said “careful and methodical police work” was the reason he was spotted.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has responded from the United Arab Emirates upon his return from Scotland, thanking police for locating Cleo and supporting his family.
“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. The fact that this nightmare is over and our worst fears don’t come true is just a great relief, a moment of great joy, ”Morrison told reporters.
“This particular case has obviously captured the hearts of Australians because we feel a great sadness for the family,” he added.
Cleo’s family live in Carnarvon, a community of 5,000, and the woman disappeared with her sleeping bag on the second day of a family camping trip to Blowholes Campground, 47 miles north of Carnarvon, the October 16.
A great search for land and sea was first made in the sparsely populated area in the hope that he had moved away from the tent. But more evidence is starting to support a kidnapping.
A car is said to have pulled away from the area during the dark hours of the morning. The zipper on the flap of the tent compartment where Cleo and her sister slept was too high for the girl to reach.
Forensic scientists searched the exterior of the family home to see if a predator was harassing Cleo and attempted to enter.
And a worry, Ellie Smith, has launched a moving public appeal for information on where her daughter is broadcasting across Australia.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said Dawson told him he was crying when he was found.
Fuller called across the country from Sydney on the east coast to Perth in the west to congratulate Dawson on the result.
“He collapsed and cried, which for a police veteran you rarely see,” Fuller told Sydney Radio 2GB. “That says a lot about the amount of effort they put into finding it.”
“As we all hope and pray as the days go by, I think the chances of him being found alive are slim,” he added.
Dawson said the body camera video of four police officers entering the house with a search warrant and seeing the girl made him feel so.
“It’s a very happy occasion. We don’t always get these results, and although we are very worried, we are not giving up hope, ”said Dawson.
Western Australia Deputy Police Commissioner Colonel Blanch described seeing qualified detectives “clearly crying in relief”.
“We were looking for (…) a needle in a haystack and we found it,” Blanch told Perth Radio 6PR.
“When she said, ‘My name is Cleo,’ I don’t think there were dry eyes in the house, ‘Blanch said, quoting the girl’s words to the policeman who was holding her in his arms. . “To see Cleo rescued this morning, I made no noise.”
The state government offered a million Australian dollars ($ 743,000) reward for the information five days after her disappearance, but Blanch said the money should not be earned.
Police received intelligence on Tuesday that guided them home, but the collapse was the result of investigators combining evidence, Blanch said.
“There are many things. There are movements of cars, there are movements of phones, there is a history of people, ”he said.
Carnarvon Shire President Eddie Jones said the local community would be “happy, grateful” when they heard the good news.
“I am more than relieved. The nightmare is now finally over for Cleo and her family, ”Western Australian Prime Minister Mark McGowan said on social media.