Cleo Smith: Timeline of events leading to rescue of missing girl

·2-min read
Cleo Smith: Timeline of events leading to rescue of missing girl

Cleo Smith vanished from the campsite where she was staying with her family and was rescued more than two weeks later after a huge operation by Western Australia police.

Here is a timeline of how events unfolded ending with the dramatic rescue of the four year-old and the arrest of a man at the property where she was found safe and well.


* Mother Ellie Smith, her partner Jake Gliddon and their children Cleo Smith and Isla Gliddon arrive at the Blowholes campsite, about 75km north of Carnarvon, in their Ford early in the evening.

* 8pm - Cleo and Isla put to bed in the family tent.


* 1.30am - Ellie woken by Cleo for a drink of water. Cleo put back to bed.

* 3-3.30am - Vehicle seen at the intersection of Blowholes Road turning south onto the North West Coastal Highway.

* 6am - Ellie wakes to find Cleo is missing.

* 6.30am - Ellie calls police to report Cleo missing.

* 7.30am - The family’s campsite is cordoned off by police.

* 8am - Carnarvon detectives search the family house for Cleo before heading to the Blowholes.

* 8.10am - A helicopter joins the search.

* 8.20am - A third police vehicle arrives.

* 8.30am - Police set up a roadblock at the entrance to the Blowholes.

* 9.30am - Nine search personnel arrive and began combing the area around the campsite for clues to the disappearance.

* 3pm - Homicide detectives and Emergency Operations Unit search experts arrive by plane in Carnarvon from Perth.


* Premier Mark McGowan announces a $1 million reward for information leading to Cleo’s location or to the arrest and conviction of people involved in her disappearance.


* Detectives get a lead and start working on plans for a raid of a suspect.


* 12.45am - Police officers arrive at a locked house in Carnarvon.

* 1am - Officers force their way into the house and find Cleo alone in one of the rooms.

* She is alive and physically well. An officer lifts the girl into his arms and asks her name. She replies: “My name is Cleo”.

* The word starts to go out amongst police that Cleo has been found.

* 4am - Police officially release the news.

* WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch describes seeing seasoned detectives openly crying with relief, saying “We were literally looking for a needle in a haystack and we found it”.

* A 36-year-old man is taken into custody and questioned by detectives in Carnarvon. Police later confirm he has no connection to Cleo’s family.

* Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith posts a photo of her daughter on Instagram, captioned “Our family is whole again”.

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