The young girl is now back home with her family, and thankfully someone is being held responsible.
4-year-old Cleo Smith, a missing Australian girl, was recently found after her abduction caught global headlines.
She was rescued on Wednesday after missing for 18 days, and an Australian man has been charged with her abduction.
Terrence Darrell Kelly, age 36, appeared in court to be charged with ‘forcibly and fraudulently taking or enticing a child under 16’.
Cleo disappeared on October 16th, from a campsite where she was camping with her family. A huge search was orchestrated immediately, resulting in 18 days of intensive man hunting for this little girl and the person responsible for taking her from her family.
Cleo’s parents went live to the media begging for the safe return of their daughter. Their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Thanks to the exceptionally hard work of Australian police, Cleo was eventually found locked in a home in Carnarvon, and shortly after was reunited with her parents.
Before being charged, Kelly was taken to the hospital and treated for self-inflicted injuries. He has been remanded in custody and will remain there until December 6th.
Police are alleging that he acted entirely alone, and indicated that the kidnapping was unplanned and completely opportunistic.
Neighbors of Kelly expressed absolute shock that he was involved in any way, telling the West Australian Newspaper that he was a very ‘quiet man who kept to himself’, but was very well known by everyone on the rest of the street.
A key piece of evidence that broke the case were details about a specific car, which directed police right to Kelly’s front door.
The discovery and safe return of precious Cleo.
This abduction case started out very difficult, with authorities likening finding little Cleo to a ‘needle in a haystack’ situation. The vast distances covered during the investigation were significant.
Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde ultimately told reporters that authorities had to go through ‘hundreds of thousands’ of pieces of evidence and testimony in order to achieve the successful and happy result of finding the little girl safe and sound.
Cleo was ultimately found at Kelly’s house which was 100 km, or 62 miles, south of the campsite where she had been camping with her family. The campsite was only a few kilometres from her own family home.
With the use of police body cams, there is footage released that documents the discovery of Cleo. In the recording, an officer says, “We’ve got her, we’ve got her", and asks the little girl her name.
“My name is Cleo!”
Authorities have visited Cleo and her family since her release from the hospital, and they state that they are amazed she “seems to be so well adjusted and happy” after everything she went through.
Australian citizens and many around the world are sighing a breath of relief today in the wake of Cleo being found and returned to her parents alive and well.