CLEO Smith’s mum has cradled her as cops released audio of her first words after they rescued her in a dramatic swoop on a suspect’s house.
The four-year-old's first words were "my name is Cleo" as cops busted open the door and found the girl – 18 days after she vanished from her tent at Blowholes campground site in Western Australia.
Suspect Terry Kelly, 36, is due to be charged today in connection with Cleo's disappearance.
After weeks of searching in the Outback, Cleo was yesterday found in a room inside a locked house.
The property where the little girl was found was just a seven-minute drive from her family home.
In the audio clip, a male police officer can be heard saying “we got her, we got her”.
What we know so far…
- Police broke into a locked house at 1am and found Cleo in one of the rooms
- The 36-year-old man arrested was rushed to hospital twice
- Acting on a sudden tip off cops swooped on the property
- Cleo's relieved mum Ellie said: "Our family is home again"
- Cops revealed Cleo was playing with toys when they burst in
Another cop says “come here, come her, I got you bubby” as another says “what’s your name sweetheart?”.
After little Cleo paused for a second, she told police words they had desperately wanted to hear throughout their hunt for her.
“M-my name is Cleo,” she replies as one of the clearly relieved cops says “hello Cleo!" and another says "you're alright bubby".
Western Australia Police confirmed that cops broke their way into a locked property at around 1am in Carnarvon, Western Australia.
Police cameras show the moment Cleo was carried in an officer's arms to safety following the burst in – returning her to her family after 18 days.
🔵 Read our Cleo Smith blog for the latest updates in the search
She was alive and well, and was found playing with toys.
Cops revealed they broke down the door of his house in Carnarvon, Western Australia, at 12:46am yesterday – where they found Cleo.
Little Cleo has now been reunited with her family after a heartbreaking 18 days.
Police say she appeared to be "physically ok" but is currently being cared for in hospital.
Cleo's mum Ellie Smith spoke out for the first time since the little girl was found, posting the emotional message to Instagram: "Our family is whole again."
The man believed to be the Cleo Smith kidnap suspect was pictured in an ambulance with head injuries today.
Kelly is said to have been held on Wednesday morning just after officers swooped on a property where they found four-year-old Cleo.
He was pictured lying down in the ambulance with his bandaged head covered in a blanket.
PLAYING WITH TOYS
He has no connection to the family, it was confirmed.
Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said in a statement this evening: "It’s my privilege to announce that in the early hours of this morning, the Western Australia Police Force rescued Cleo Smith.
"Cleo is alive and well. A police team broke their way into a locked house in Carnarvon about 1am.
"They found little Cleo in one of the rooms."
He revealed that one of the officers picked the four-year-old girl up in his arms, before asking what her name was.
Commissioner Blanch added: "Cleo was reunited with her parents a short time later.
"This is the outcome we all hoped and prayed for.
"It’s the outcome we’ve achieved because of some incredible police work.
"I can confirm we have a man from Carnarvon in custody who is currently being questioned by detectives.
"We’ll have more to say on the rescue of Cleo as the day unfolds. For now – Welcome home Cleo."
BACK IN MUM'S ARMS
The suspect was seen uncharacteristically buying nappies in the last few days.
"The other day – on Monday – we saw him in Woolworths buying Kimbies [nappies] and that," neighbour Henry Dodd told Australia's 'Sunrise' news show.
"But we didn't click why he was buying them for or who he was buying them for.
"Everyone knows the person who stays at that house, but no one would have thought it would be him. We were shocked."
Sahntayah McKenzie who lives nearby said she heard the sound of crying one night, but did not connect it to the missing girl.
"Not last night, the night before it… I heard a little girl crying but I wouldn't expect it to be Cleo," she told The West Australian.
"I didn't expect it would happen in this little neighbourhood, a lot of people know each other."
Rennee Turner drove to her sister’s house on the street where Cleo was found as soon as she heard the news.
She said she went on a construction course with the man who she described as a "very quiet guy and "a bit of an oddball"
Dubbed the 'Aussie Maddie McCann,' cops launched a desperate hunt for the child after she went missing from the remote campsite in her pink pyjamas.
Her mum Ellie last saw her at 1.30am when she gave her a drink of water, and then her and her partner Jake Gliddon awoke to find the tot missing – sparking a frantic search.
Cleo's disappearance sent shockwaves through the community in Australia.
The police were called around three hours after she was found to be missing as the family had hoped the girl was just hiding nearby – searching the area with other campers.
Police were searching rugged terrain near the remote campsite for the missing girl and said they had "grave concerns for Cleo’s safety".
Authorities previously also offered a $1m reward for information leading to Cleo’s location.
Timeline – The Search for Cleo
October 15 – Cleo arrives with her parents and baby sister at Blowhole Campground in Carnarvon, Western Australia
October 16 1.30am – The four-year-old wakes her mum up for a drink before going back to sleep in the tent she shared with her parents and sister
October 16 6.30am – Cleo's mother Ellie wakes to find her daughter has vanished without a trace
October 18 – Locals urged to check their bins for the missing child's sleeping bag
October 21 – Police offer $1million reward to anyone with information that leads them to Cleo
October 24 – Cleo's voice is heard on CCTV 20 metres from where she disappeared from the campsite
October 25 – Cops look for the driver of a car seen between 3am and 3.30am on the morning she vanished
October 30 – Police launch an air, land and sea search for the four-year-old
November 2 – Cleo is found by police "alive and well" locked in a room in Carnarvon – just 43 miles from the Blowholes camp
"On a campsite you can hear a pin drop in the middle of the night," Mr Gamble told The Sun Online.
"If you drag out a child – even if they have their sleeping bag over their head – the child will begin to scream.
"To get the child out of the tent without drawing any attention is a really difficult thing to do."
He explained: "If it is someone they know – and potentially trust – a child would be much more compliant.
"If a child is shocked out of their sleep by movement by someone they don't know they are much more likely to cry out – no question."
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