Inside the heartbroken family of Cleo Smith as search for missing child enters a fourth day


The distraught family of little Cleo Smith are still without any answers as to her mysterious disappearance that has captured the attention of many around the world – even dubbed ‘Australia’s Madeleine McCann’ by press overseas. 

The four-year-old was in her family’s shared tent when she was last seen by her mother Ellie Smith at about 1.30am on Saturday at Blowholes campsite, north of Carnarvon, in Western Australia. 

The youngster, who was wearing bright pink pyjamas, had an ‘interaction’ with her mum and step-dad Jake Gliddon in the middle of the night but was nowhere to be seen when they woke at 6.30am.

Police are looking into reports from campers that a car was seen driving off at 3am while anyone in the area from Friday to Saturday has been asked to speak to officers to help with the investigation.  

Wild weather led emergency services to suspend the search as it entered its fourth day on Tuesday but it is hoped to resume later on in the day.

A strong cold front, heavy winds and rain has brought about treacherous search conditions for volunteers – including local Indigenous bush trackers who have been assisting with the search. 

The marine aspect of the search has also been scaled back, Inspector Jon Munday said on Monday, as there is no evidence Cleo wandered into the water. 

So who are the key figures in the mystery?

The distraught family of little Cleo Smith are still without any answers as to her mysterious disappearance

The distraught family of little Cleo Smith are still without any answers as to her mysterious disappearance

Cleo's mother Ellie and her step-dad Jake Gliddon (pictured together) have remained at the Blowholes campsite, north of Carnarvon in WA in the desperate hopes of finding their daughter

Cleo’s mother Ellie and her step-dad Jake Gliddon (pictured together) have remained at the Blowholes campsite, north of Carnarvon in WA in the desperate hopes of finding their daughter

The mother and her boyfriend 

Her distraught mother and step-dad have remained at the campsite since Cleo went missing to help with the search.

They had both been inside the tent at the time of her disappearance along with their seven-month-old daughter Isla.

The grey and black sleeping bag Cleo had been inside has also vanished. 

Ms Smith was the first to share the news her daughter had gone missing, posting an urgent call out on Facebook for anyone with information to come forward.

She shared a photo of Cleo in the blue and pink pyjama set she was wearing on the night she was last seen.

‘It’s been over 24 hours since I last seen the sparkle in my little girls eyes! Please help me find her! If you hear or see anything at all please call the police!’ Ms Smith wrote on Sunday.

In an earlier post, Ms Smith had described her young daughter’s disappearance as ‘very, very unusual’ for Cleo.

Police have shared aerial footage of the campsite Cleo was at with her family before she disappeared

Police have shared aerial footage of the campsite Cleo was at with her family before she disappeared

Ms Smith described her daughter's disappearance as 'very, very unusual'

Ms Smith described her daughter’s disappearance as ‘very, very unusual’

Police have taped off the area at the campsite while investigations continue

Police have taped off the area at the campsite while investigations continue

The biological father 

Cleo’s biological father Daniel Staines spent nearly three hours in Mandurah Police Station on Monday, 1,000km south from where the four-year-old disappeared, after voluntarily coming in to give a statement.

Seven News reported he was at work during the morning before coming into Mandurah Police Station, 1,000km south of where Cleo vanished, of his own accord with his parents by his side. 

There is no suggestion Mr Staines was in any way involved in Cleo’s disappearance.

Daniel Staines (pictured, right) went to Mandurah Police Station - 1,000km from where she disappeared - to give a statement about his daughter's disappearance

Daniel Staines (pictured, right) went to Mandurah Police Station – 1,000km from where she disappeared – to give a statement about his daughter’s disappearance

The cousin 

Ms Smith’s cousin Melissa Smith has been actively helping spread the word about the missing four-year-old.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help raise funds for the search effort with close to $45,000 already donated.

Melissa has been regularly encouraging people to donate to the cause, while also sharing updates to Cleo’s disappearance on Facebook. 

‘Please come back now princess, Ellie Smith you and Jake are the strongest people I know we are here for you and we love you,’ Melissa wrote to Facebook on Sunday. 

Searches have been conducted in the land and sea around the are Cleo was last seen

Searches have been conducted in the land and sea around the are Cleo was last seen

Police have released an image of Cleo's sleeping bag and are urging members of the public to come forward if they have seen it

Police have released an image of Cleo’s sleeping bag and are urging members of the public to come forward if they have seen it

What we know so far 

Investigators have not ruled out anything in relation to the little girl’s disappearance and are exploring theories she may have been abducted – with homicide detectives working ‘a million miles an hour’ to find her.

Police have refused to confirm reports a car was heard skidding off as it left the area around 3am on Saturday, after other campers reported the odd noise.  

Late into the third day of the search investigators made a public plea for anyone who was anywhere near the campsite from Friday to Sunday, to come forward and contact police – particularly if they have dashcam footage.

They said it will assist police to track and trace the movement of everyone in the area, raising speculation a kidnapping is now the main working theory of what happened Cleo.  

The camp ground is located 75km from Carnarvon and 875km from Perth with nothing but bushland and scrubs in between.  

Cleo has reportedly visited the area with her mother on camping trips since she was a baby

Cleo has reportedly visited the area with her mother on camping trips since she was a baby

Another element which has raised suspicions she was snatched is that her sleeping bag is also missing.

It has been confirmed that detectives have seized CCTV footage from roadhouses in the area as part of their investigation.  

Inspector Munday said there are ‘grave concerns’ for Cleo as the hunt to find the little girl gets more desperate ‘every hour’. 

‘With a four-year-old out in this environment… there is limited water supply, it is warm, there is very limited shelter so it is very, very concerning,’ he said. 

Cleo has reportedly visited the area with her mother on camping trips since she was a baby. 

Investigators are concerned rain expected on Tuesday may hamper the search, but said they would keep up efforts for another 48 hours, at least.

The nearby beach has been known to have ‘king waves’ with waves up to ten times bigger than the ones before them.

Cleo is pictured wearing the pyjama suit she was in when she went missing

Cleo is pictured wearing the pyjama suit she was in when she went missing

The local council had to close the Blowholes observation area in July this year after someone nearly got swept into the water following a large swell.  

Police are calling on anyone who was anywhere near the area over the weekend to come forward, particularly if they have dashcam footage as it may help to ‘track and trace’ the movements of people in the vicinity. 

‘We are really interested in anybody who was at The Blowholes campsite from Friday the 15th of October through to Sunday,’ Inspector Munday said. 

‘You don’t even have to have stayed here, even if you just passed through. We need to speak to you… so we can track and trace where people were.

‘And if anybody has any dashcam footage or any footage at all of the area we really would be interested in those people coming forward.’      

SES crews, volunteers, Indigenous bush trackers and homicide police confirmed they have been on the scene tirelessly searching the surrounds since Cleo’s disappearance but she is yet to be found. 

Anyone with information should call police on 131 444. 

SES crews, volunteers, Indigenous bush trackers and homicide police confirmed they have been on the scene tirelessly searching the surrounds since Cleo's disappearance but she is yet to be found

SES crews, volunteers, Indigenous bush trackers and homicide police confirmed they have been on the scene tirelessly searching the surrounds since Cleo’s disappearance but she is yet to be found



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