Only about seven minutes drive from her family's home, the police rescued four-year-old Cleo Smith from a locked house early Wednesday morning. The girl disappeared 18 days ago from the tent in which she and her family had stayed at a campsite about 75 kilometers from his home town of Carnarvon in the state of Western Australia. According to the police, an emergency team had gained access to the house at 12:46 a.m. with a ram and a crowbar and found little Cleo in one of the rooms.
“One of the policemen picked her up, took her in his arms and asked: What's your name?
She said 'My name is Cleo,' ”West Australian Vice Police Chief Col Blanch reported.
A 36 year old man is in police custody and is still being questioned.
According to police, he is not related to the girl's family.
According to the press, Cleo was alone in the house when the police released her.
The man was picked up nearby.
Bought diapers in the supermarket
Neighbors told ABC that the man had kept quiet and recently bought diapers at a local supermarket. "We had no light ... for whom he had bought it," said the neighbor. The girl was returned to her mother and her partner shortly after she was rescued. "Our family is whole again," wrote mother Ellie Smith in a post on Instagram.
The blonde girl disappeared from the tent where she and her family had stayed overnight on October 16.
The tent was set up at the campsite near the Quobba Blowholes, a remote excursion destination on the Indian Ocean almost 1,000 kilometers north of the Western Australian capital Perth.
That night around 1.30 a.m., her mother had seen Cleo when she asked for a drink of water.
In the morning around 6.30 a.m., the girl disappeared with her sleeping bag.
The part of the tent it had been in had been zipped up to a height beyond the reach of a four-year-old child.
Search by land, air and sea
According to the police, Cleo made a healthy impression during the rescue and smiled when the police found her. She is doing as well as one might expect under the circumstances, said Western Australian police chief Chris Dawson. The police had combed the area in a huge search operation and offered a reward of one million Australian dollars (644,000 euros) for clues. You never gave up hope of finding the girl, Dawson said. After the search on land, from the air and at sea remained unsuccessful, the police assumed that the girl had been kidnapped.
The investigators then concentrated on following up the smallest clues.
For example, on October 16, around three in the morning, during the alleged period of Cleo's disappearance, a car was seen turning out of an access road to the campsite.
In addition, the data from cell phone masts and surveillance cameras in the area were evaluated.
The police recently announced that they also wanted to take satellite images into account.
"We investigated a variety of forensic leads that led us to this particular house," said Chris Dawson.
Officials wept with relief
The police chief spoke of the "needle in a haystack" that was only found last night. But he gave no further clues to the trail that eventually led to the building in Brockman, a suburb of Carnarvon. He couldn't give any more details about the man either. "We're still questioning the guy," Dawson said. According to a press report, the house is in a street section with several dilapidated buildings. The place Carnarvon is known for fishing and banana plantations.
Relief over the girl's rescue spread from Western Australia across the country on Wednesday morning. “The nightmare is finally over for Cleo and her family,” Western Australian Prime Minister Mark McGowan wrote on Twitter. Vice Police Chief Blanch said on Channel Seven the cops collapsed crying after finding Cleo in the house. The recordings of the body cameras, which were carried by the officers during the operation, were burned into his memory. "It was an incredible moment," said the police chief.
At a press conference, McGowan spoke of an "exciting, uplifting and wonderful day".
It is the result of fantastic police work, which can be used as a model not only in Australia, but worldwide.
A special commission made up of around 100 officials took part in the investigation, along with a large number of volunteers.
The Prime Minister expressed his condolences to the family, who had been through traumatic experiences in the past two and a half weeks and had to endure malicious online attacks.
The mother, her partner and also the biological father, who is said to live near Perth, were not suspected of having anything to do with the girl's disappearance.Keywords: