The chances of finding a missing child are slim. A 4-year-old girl’s family was terrified that this statistic might ring true for their blue-eyed baby girl.
On October 16, 2021, 4-year-old Cleo Smith’s mother, Ellie Smith, reported her little girl missing. That morning, she had woken up at Blowholes campsite in Australia alongside her partner Jake Gliddon and Cleo’s younger sister Isla Mae. The 4-year-old was nowhere to be found.
Local police from the Carnarvon station searched the area along with friends, family, volunteer marines, and many others. The toddler was not located, so law enforcement spent just over 2 weeks attempting to find Cleo.
A HELPFUL CLUE
With seemingly few leads, on October 21, 2021, the police issued a $1 million reward for anyone who could provide any information on the missing child. The response was massive, with reports of what many thought might be suspicious activity rolling in.
The overall possibility of locating a missing child after an alleged abduction is incredibly slim.
One eventual tip, along with phone data, may have saved the day. It was connected to a local 36-year-old man who lived only 7 minutes away from the aggrieved family’s residence.
On November 3, 2021, the police stormed this individual’s house with a search warrant, finding Cleo alive and smiling. Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blain, who was on the scene, stated:
“To see her sitting there in the way that she was was incredible.”
The detective asked her what her name was three times to which she eventually responded with a grin that it was Cleo.
— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) November 2, 2021
CELEBRATING HER RETURN
The family was relieved, with the mom taking to Instagram to express that they are complete now that their little girl is back home. The community was also delighted to hear the good news. President of Carnarvon Shire said:
“Elation would be the best way to describe it. The community is absolutely elated. Just thankful that we got what we all hoped and prayed for.”
Not long after they found the missing toddler, purple and pink balloons decorated Carnarvon’s center, with signs welcoming Cleo home.
A NATIONAL RESPONSE
The news has touched the hearts of not only the local community but has spread all across Australia, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison commenting on her discovery:
“The fact that that [this] nightmare has come to an end and our worst fears were not realized, is just a huge relief and a moment for great joy.”
Morrison thanked the police for their hard work and all the other individuals involved in helping law enforcement locate Cleo.
BEATING THE STATISTICS
Criminologist Xanthe Mallett from the University of Newcastle stated that the fact that the 4-year-old was found is astounding. The overall possibility of locating a missing child after an alleged abduction is incredibly slim, she said.
The unnamed and alleged abductor is reportedly being held in custody and will most likely face court. This individual has no connection to the family.
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