CANBERRA (Australia) -- On Wednesday, police broke into a suburban home and rescued a 4-year old girl whose family's tent was missing from the remote west coast of Australia. The incident shocked and captivated the nation.
Officials were relieved to see body camera footage of Cleo Smith being picked up by a police officer and hear her tell him, "My name's Cleo." The raid on the Carnarvon house, which took place late at night, was the result of a tip from police on Tuesday.
Soon after her rescue, the girl was reunited soon with her stepfather Jake Gliddon and her mother Ellie Smith. The mother posted on social media that "our family is whole again".
Chris Dawson, Western Australia's state police commissioner, would not reveal what the girl went through. Dawson stated that she is doing well. This has been a difficult ordeal. We are so grateful she is alive, and I won't go into too many details.
Dawson claimed that she was found after her "dogged, methodical" police work.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, on his return from Scotland, reacted via the United Arab Emirates. He thanked police for finding Cleo.
It's every parent’s worst nightmare. Morrison shared that the nightmare is over and that our worst fears have not been realized was a great relief and a moment of great joy.
He said, "This particular case has obviously captured the hearts Australians as they felt such terrible sorrow about the family."
Cleo's family is located in Carnarvon. The community has 5,000 residents. Cleo had vanished with her sleeping bag during a family camping trip at Blowholes campground, 75 km (47 miles) north Carnarvon on Oct. 16.
Initial searches were conducted in sparsely populated areas on the assumption that she had escaped from her tent. More evidence was found to support the idea of an abduction.
In the early hours of the morning, a vehicle was seen speeding by the area. The zipper at the tent compartment, where Cleo and her sister were asleep, was too high for the little girl to reach.
To determine if Cleo had been attacked by a predator, forensic scientists looked at the exterior of Cleo's family home.
Ellie Smith, distraught, made emotional appeals to the public for information about her daughter's whereabouts. These appeals were broadcast across Australia.
Fuller called from Sydney, on the east coast to Perth, in the West, to congratulate Dawson.
Fuller said that Fuller broke down and wept, something you don't often see in veteran police officers. Fuller spoke to Sydney Radio 2GB. It speaks volumes about the effort that went into finding her.
He said, "Whilst we all prayed and hoped as the days passed, I think the odds of her being alive were so slim."
Dawson claimed that Dawson was moved by body camera footage of four officers entering the house with a search warrant, and the girl being found.
It's a truly joyful occasion. These kinds of outcomes don't happen every time, so while we were worried, Dawson stated that they didn't lose heart.
Col Blanch, Western Australia Police Deputy Commissioner, described "openly crying with relief" when he saw seasoned detectives.
Blanch said that they were "looking for a needle within a haystack" and found it.
Blanch quoted the words of the girl to the officer who took her in his arms, "When she said, ‘My name is Cleo’, I don’t think there were any dry eyes in the house,” Blanch stated.
Blanch said, "To see Cleo saved this morning is a miracle,"
Five days after her disappearance the state government offered a reward of 1 million Australian dollars ($743,000) for information, but Blanch stated that it was unlikely that she would claim the money.
Blanch stated that although police had intelligence on Tuesday leading them to the house was received by them, the breakthrough came from investigators putting together evidence.
"There were many things. He said that there were many things.
Eddie Jones, president of Carnarvon Shire, stated that the good news would make the community "elated and thankful".
"I am beyond relieved. Cleo and her family are now free from this nightmare," Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan shared via social media.