An A$1m (€640,000) reward is being offered by police for any information regarding the disappearance of four-year-old Cleo Smith, who was abducted from her tent at a Western Australian campsite.
Detectives admit that the evidence leads to her having been abducted six days ago from Blowholes campsite on the northwest coast, but have not yet given up hope of finding Cleo alive.
The current land search is based in the area surrounding the campsite, north of Carnarvon, is set to come to a close today, after which attention will be diverted to a criminal investigation.
Yesterday, Det Supt Rob Wilde said: “Given the information now that we’ve gleaned from the scene, the fact that the search has gone on for this period of time and we haven’t been able to locate her ... it leads us to believe that she was taken from the tent.”
Cleo was last seen by her parents around 1.30am on
Ellie Smith, her mother, awoke at 6am and found her daughter was missing from their family tent. The tent zip had been opened to a height Cleo could not have reached, it has been confirmed. Her red and black sleeping bag is also missing.
Earlier this week, Ms Smith said the little girl would never wander off on her own and someone must know where she is.
She said: “She would never leave us, she would never leave the tent.” Her mother also described Cleo as a beautiful and delicate girl with “the biggest heart”.
The land search has been conducted by over 100 police officers, joined by State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers and army reservists. A homicide task force, named Rodia, has been appointed to conduct a criminal investigation into Cleo’s disappearance.
Police have not ruled out the possibility that Cleo may have been taken by someone known to her, nor that she may have been taken across interstate borders.
Wilde said: “We’ve been in touch with all jurisdictions around Australia. We want to get this information out there and if anyone Australia-wide has information that could be relevant to the investigation, we ask that they call Crime Stoppers.”
The reward has since been offered by the Western Australian premier Mark McGowan for any information that could potential lead to Cleo, or to the arrest or conviction of anyone involved in her disappearance.
Mr McGowan said: “It’s a very sad situation, a very difficult situation,” Mr McGowan said.
“I just urge anyone who has any knowledge of the location of Cleo, please provide that information to police and ensure that we can provide some certainty and information to Cleo’s loved ones and hopefully bring Cleo back safe and sound.”
Police approached around 20 registered sex offenders in the vicinity of the site, but there are no suspects. Investigators are also re-examining shacks along the coastline nearby.
Cleo and her family are local to Carnarvon and the campsite is based close to people they knew. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2021)
Telegraph Media Group Limited