Homicide squad and major crime detectives have joined the search for a young girl who vanished from a campsite in Western Australia’s north amid ongoing fears she may have been abducted.
Four-year-old Cleo Smith was staying in a tent with her family at the Blowholes Campground in Macleod, near Carnarvon, when she was reported missing on Saturday morning.
Police said Cleo’s family woke to find her gone about 6am, having last seen her inside the tent about 1.30am on Saturday.
Inspector Jon Munday said police were not ruling out the possibility Cleo had been abducted and he was asked about the theory again on Monday.
“We are not ruling that out. We are not going to get blinkered or sort of assume that something has happened.
“At this point in time, unfortunately, everything is still on the table.”
Munday refused to comment about reports a car was heard skidding in the area about 3am on the morning Cleo vanished.
He also would not comment on other investigative aspects, such as items that may or may not have been recovered.
“I can’t comment on the specifics of what we have uncovered,” he said.
“We are going to leave no stone unturned until we have some answers.”
Rain is expected on Tuesday, which could hinder aspects of the search, but Munday said authorities had made plans to keep searching for at least another 48 hours.
Asked how the family was holding up, Munday said they were doing okay.
“It’s a terrible time for them but they’re going okay. They’re very well supported by their family and the Carnarvon community.
“They’re still in the area. They’re finding it hard to know what to do, which is understandable … we’re supporting them as best we can in that regard.”
Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith previously posted on social media, urging anyone who might have seen her “sparkling” daughter to call police.
The girl was last seen wearing a pink/purple one-piece sleep suit with a blue and yellow pattern.
An extensive land, air and sea search has so far found no trace of Cleo, with crews scouring an area up to about 5.2km from Cleo’s last known location.
Police on Monday were also searching shacks along the coastline at the campsite.
A Go Fund Me page has been set up by local man Bill Kent to help Cleo’s family and the search efforts, so far raising more than $24,000.
Kent urged people to skip their coffees or dinners out and instead donate that money to help with the search for Cleo.
“A well respected family of our community has had a very traumatic experience with the disappearance of their eldest child,” Kent wrote.
“The land, sea and air search has been extensive, with everybody involved putting in an amazing effort to help locate Cleo.”
Two private local companies – Coral Coast Helicopter Services and Double R – are also providing assistance.
“The effort these two small local companies put into this search is amazing, with Justin (Borg) cancelling a paid tour and bringing his larger helicopter up for a full-scale search involving three people in the chopper for the whole day,” Kent said.
“Richard from Double R also made an amazing effort to get up here and help.”
Kristine Adcock from Coral Coast Helicopter Services told NCA NewsWire the team was keen to help with the search and had been working with authorities.
It is understood expert trackers have also joined the search, which has already involved State Emergency Service personnel, rangers, an AMSA jet and Australian Defence Force drones.
Deputy Premier Roger Cook acknowledged the “heartache and absolute agony” the girl’s family was experiencing.
“We can’t understand the immeasurable pain that [the family is] going through at the moment and I think all West Australians’ hearts go out to them,” he told reporters.
Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said police continued to be concerned for Cleo.
“We’re not ruling anything in or out.
“We feel very desperately for the family in this very unusual situation where we don’t know where Cleo is.”
Munday on Sunday said authorities were “throwing everything we can at this search” and confirmed a sleeping bag had also been reported missing.
“We are gravely concerned for the safety of Cleo.
“We’re not leaving anything to chance. We’re trying to cover all our bases and we’re not ruling anything out — we’re going as hard as we can for as long as we can to try to find Cleo.”
Police ascertained who was staying at the campsite at the time of Cleo’s disappearance and searched campers leaving the site.
The “extremely harsh” environment surrounding the site was of concern if she did wander off, Inspector Munday said, but conditions at the time were conducive for survival.
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