WA Police Commissioner details midnight phone call that resulted in Cleo Smith’s rescue
Cleo Smith, who had been missing for 18 days after missing from the family tent at Quobba Blowholes Campground, was found “alive and well” in the early hours of Wednesday morning at a residential address.
Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson detailed the crucial hours before Cleo Smith’s discovery, recalling a midnight phone call from colleagues who believed they had a “strong lead”.
“We had been following some leads and just after midnight I got a call saying, ‘look, we’ve got a big lead’, and they briefed me on that and said, ‘we’re going to have to get in. this house, âhe told 6PR on Wednesday morning.
“They broke into the house, and there she was.”
Dawson said shortly thereafter he was able to view camera footage worn on the body of the rescue, revealing the moment Cleo was found in a locked Carnarvon house made him cry.
âIt brought a tearful eye shamelessly. It’s so remarkable, and I’m so proud of the way they worked through it,â he said.
Detectives found Cleo in the early hours of this morning after breaking into Carnarvon’s house, about 70 miles from the campsite where the 4-year-old disappeared 18 days ago.
A 36-year-old man from Carnarvon is now in custody and being questioned by police, with neighbors revealing new information about the man’s movements before Cleo’s discovery.
“I am privileged to report that in the early hours of this morning, Western Australian Police rescued Cleo Smith,” Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said in a statement Wednesday morning, adding that “Cleo is alive and well “.
âA police team broke into a locked house in Carnarvon at around 1 a.m. They found little Cleo in one of the rooms.
“One of the officers hugged her and asked her ‘what’s your name?’ She said, ‘My name is Cleo’. “
Cleo was reunited with her parents soon after.
Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said police responded “in the blink of an eye” after extensive research – including critical phone data – presented their “needle in the haystack” late Tuesday night.
âWe had a strategy very early on from day one to collect everything,â he said. âWe had to find this needle. Last night that needle in the haystack came out and they acted in the blink of an eye,â he said.
âIt’s a big puzzle, you know, everything has contributed, certainly the phone data has helped us and it will become evident.
“But there was a lot of stuff, that when we put the puzzle together, it all led to one place, and that’s where we found Cleo.”
He added that information received Tuesday evening quickly “snowballed” and resulted in the discovery of ClÃ©o.
Dawson told the ABC that “there was no family connection” between the man and the family.
“I can just confirm that there is a 36-year-old man in custody,” he said.
Neighbors of the “calm man” described seeing him buying diapers just two days before Cleo’s discovery.
A man told Sunrise he saw the man from Woolworths buying Kimbies, a brand of diapers he found strange because the man had no children.
“The other day – Monday – we saw him in Woolworths buying Kimbies and stuff,” he said.
“But we didn’t click what he was buying them for.”
The neighbor said everyone on the street knew each other, but said the man tended to be left alone.
“Everyone knows the person staying in this house, but no one would have thought it would be him,” he told reporters.
“We were shocked.”
The $ 1 million reward offered by the government of Western Australia for the information that led to the location of Cleo was unlikely to be released, Deputy Commissioner Blanch said.
When asked on Wednesday morning if this would be claimed, he told 6PR: “I don’t believe so, no”.
Another neighbor, Sahntayah McKenzie, told The West Australian she heard a girl cry a few nights ago, but didn’t realize it could be Cleo.
âNot last night, the day beforeâ¦ I heard a little girl cry but I wouldn’t expect it to be Cleo,â she said.
“I didn’t expect this to happen in this little neighborhood, a lot of people know each other.”
Another local, Rennee Turner, told the publication she took a construction class with the man, describing him “very calm”.
âI certainly wouldn’t have chosen himâ¦ it completely derailed me,â she said.
“I had heard whispersâ¦ I kind of thought the police maybe had an idea what was going on, because I’ve never seen so many cops here in so long.”