Cleo Smith disappeared from her family tent in a panicked moment.
It ended Wednesday with a moment filled with joy when police discovered the little girl missing after 18 days in a locked house just an hour away.
The toddler from Western Australian was found alive around 12.56 am on Wednesday, two-and a half weeks after he was taken from a tent in a remote campground in the state’s north-west.
Col Blanch, WA Deputy Police Commissioner, confirmed that the little girl was alive and well, smiling, and reunited to her mother just before 7 AM AEDT.
After an extensive sea, air and land search for the little girl, international attention was paid to her miraculous recovery.
Here’s Daily Mail Australia’s blow by blow guide to the unfolding of the search for Cleo.
Cleo Smith, a four-year-old girl, was miraculously found alive after she was taken from a tent at a remote campsite.
Friday, October 15,
Cleo arrives at Blowholes campsite with her mother Ellie Smith, Jake Gliddon, and Isla Mae.
They arrived at sunset after a quiet night.
Saturday, October 16
1:30am Parents’ last sighting of Cleo in the tent she shared with her parents and baby sister when the four-year-old asks for some water.
6.23amEllie calls 000 and reports her eldest daughter missing. She continues to search for the camp ground.
6.30am: Carnarvon’s police station dispatches the two first officers. They travel to Blowholes in order of priority, with sirens or lights.
6.41 amBlowholes is also sent a second police car, with two additional officers, equipped with lights and sirens.
7.10 am: The first officer arrives in the police car. The second one arrives in just minutes.
7.26 am: The police on the scene create a protected area for forensics that is taped off to public. This is around the tent where Cleo was last spotted.
7.33am: A drone operator can be called upon to search the skies.
7.44am: A third officer car is dispatched by the police to the Blowholes.
8am: Cleo’s family and friends begin to arrive to assist with the ground search.
A Carnarvon police team broke into a locked house around 1am on Wednesday to find the four-year old girl (pictured) in one the rooms
Ellie, Ellie’s delighted mother, broke her silence on Wednesday morning by sharing a series emojis of love hearts on Instagram (pictured).
Another team of detectives searches Cleo’s house briefly to make sure she isn’t there.
They then travel to Blowholes, where they stop cars entering and leaving the area.
8.09am: A helicopter from a local business arrived on the scene and began searching. Police requested that an SES team assist the Blowholes search.
8.24amTo assist in the search, police air-wing and volunteer maritime searchers are called.
8.34am: Blowholes police set up roadblocks at the entrance to Blowholes so that detectives can gather names, addresses and registration details for anyone who is coming and going. Police search cars.
9.25am: 9 SES personnell arrive at Blowholes for assistance in the search.
9.30 a.m.: Ellie is distressed and detectives are there to help her. Cleo is being hunted by other search teams.
11:15: Major Crime Division detectives are called to assist with the Homicide investigation. They travel from Perth to assist.
1pm: More Perth-based homicide detectives are available and search experts are also available.
3pmCarnarvon, Australia – Search experts and officers arrive to share their knowledge.
The nightmare began shortly after Cleo’s mum Ellie Smith, Jake Gliddon, and Isla Mae arrived at the Blowholes campsite at 6:30pm on Friday, Oct 15.
Sunday, October 17,
Ms Smith turns to social media for help in finding her missing child.
A Facebook post dated Sunday, January 45th, stated that it had been over 24 hours since I last saw the sparkle in the eyes of my little girl.
“Please help me to find her!”
“If you see or hear anything, please call the police!”
Police suspect that Cleo was abducted.
Monday, October 18, 2008
Police release an image showing the red and gray sleeping bag that was missing from Cleo’s tent.
Cleo’s biological dad is interviewed by police at Mandurah. He is asked to give a statement which he freely gives.
The WA Police, assisted by SES members, volunteers, and aircraft, continue the hunt for Cleo. Officers search nearby shacks, vehicles, and other locations.
Ellie, her mother and younger daughter, was pictured with Cleo. They shared a series on Instagram of love heart emoticons.
Tuesday, October 19, 2009
Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and Jake Gliddon are fronting the media for the first-time and describe the terrifying moment that they realized their little girl was missing.
Ms Smith claims that her four-year old would not have left the tent on her own.
Police release new photos of Cleo, and the pink-and-blue one-piece she wore the night she disappeared to assist with the investigation.
Investigators are urging anyone who was in the area or at the campsite on October 15th to contact police.
Ellie Smith (pictured) with her partner Jake Gliddon appeared before the media on October 19. They asked the public to report any information, ‘big and small’, they received.
Wednesday, October 20
Police revealed that Cleo couldn’t reach the zip of her family tent because it was too high.
Officers claim they haven’t ruled it out that campers heard screeching tyres in early Saturday morning.
Daryl Gaunt, Deputy Police Commissioner, confirmed that officers are investigating the whereabouts 20 registered sex offenders from the Carnarvon region.
Cleo, a missing four-year old girl, was the target of bounty hunters, investigators, and officers from Australia’s Federal Police.
Thursday, October 21
Cleo’s location will be revealed by WA Premier Mark McGowan.
McGowan stated, “All Western Australians’ thoughts and prayers are with Cleo’s family during this unimaginable difficult time.”
“We are all praying for a positive result.”
The speed with which the reward was issued – within days of her disappearance — was unheard of.
Monday, October 25
WA Police confirm Cleo was at camp site – CCTV footage from a camera mounted inside a beach house just 20 meters from the family tent from which she disappeared.
Tuesday, 26 October
On Tuesday, detectives and forensic officers spent a lot of time at her Carnarvon home, 900km north from Perth. They left with two bags of evidence.
Although investigators had been to this home before, it was the first time that they conducted a thorough search inside with a forensics team.
Col Blanch, Acting WA Police Commissioner, stated that the search of the family home was a’standard practice’ which did not indicate that they were suspects in Cleo’s disappearance.
Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith, relieved, posted on November 3, ‘Our family has been made whole again’
Wednesday, October 27
WA Police forensics Officers return to Blowholes Campground and collect soil samples from a variety of campfires nearby shacks.
The Australian Federal Police officers were drafted by the federal government to assist in intelligence and forensic investigations.
Friday, October 29, 2009
Police return to Blowholes camp to examine the area with drones.
As the search for Cleo approaches the two-week mark of its second week, Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde returns from Blowholes to rejoin the search.
He confirms that Cleo is being sought by both international and national agencies.
Sunday, 31 October
Cleo’s hometown is 5km away when detectives knock on doors of a number homes along the North West Coastal Highway.
Pictured: Police examine rubbish left near the Blowholes campsite.
Monday, November 1
Detectives sort through mounds of rubbish from roadside bins located hundreds of kilometres away from the campsite she vanished from.
The material was taken to Perth, where forensic and police officers and recruits searched through hundreds of bags for any items that could have been used to find Cleo.
Officers ask for CCTV and dashcam footage within a 1000km radius from the location where the four-year old disappeared.
Police renew an appeal to Carnarvon businesses for footage and to go door to door in an area of industrial land on the outskirts.
A Carnarvon man was taken into police custody. The house was cordoned off with tape and located just seven minutes from Cleo’s family home (pictured, where Cleo was found).
Col Blanch, WA Police deputy commissioner, confirmed just before 7am AEST Cleo is alive. She had been reunited her relieved parents.
Wednesday, November 3
Cleo Smith was found alive in the early hours on November 3 after two-and a half weeks of diligent searching.
Col Blanch, WA Police deputy commissioner, confirmed just before 7am AEST Cleo is alive. She had been reunited her parents with relief.
“One of the officers grabbed her and asked her what her name was. He replied. “She said, “My name is Cleo.”
Ellie Smith posted the following to social media: “Our Family is Whole Again”
A Carnarvon male is currently being held and being interrogated by detectives.