Polices conducting the painstaking search for clues to the disappearance of littlenow fear it was a calculated but ‘opportunistic’ abduction, with investigators scouring the dark web for any images of the four-year-old.
Detectives now believe the predator who took Cleo from her family tent at the Blow Holes campsite inbetween 1.30am and 6.30am on October 16 must have targeted her in a short period.
The heartbreaking investigations continued into their third week as police confirmed they still believe Cleo is ‘likely’ still in WA somewhere.
There was also speculation that specific police comments suggest they may be closing in on whoever took her, as they run pictures of the toddler through the dark web – which is used for child exploitation content – but found no results, according to The West Australian.
Chances for anyone to see Cleo would have been limited as she arrived with her family in fading light, police say.
It was around 6pm the night before when Cleo arrived with mum Ellie Smith and stepdad Jake Gliddon, neither of whom are police suspects.
Polices conducting the painstaking search for clues to the disappearance of little Cleo Smith now fear it was a calculated but ‘opportunistic’ abduction
Visibility of Cleo would have been limited as she arrived at the Blow Holes campsite around 6pm the night before she was taken – as it was getting dark – with Mum Ellie Smith and stepdad Jake Gliddon (pictured). Neither of them are police suspects
Lead investigator Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde toldit seems certain her abduction was an ‘opportunistic event’.
‘We know they got there … on the Friday night. It was getting dark and so there would have been limited opportunity for people to observe Cleo at that time.’
Mr Wilde said police investigations have confirmed that Cleo was at the camp site from checking video footage on a parent’s phone that had a ‘geolocation tag’.
There was also audio of her voice on CCTV from a nearby shack that makes it clear she was there.
The tiny girl woke for water at 1.30am and when her mum checked for her at 6am the four year old was gone
Detectives found the zip on the tent Cleo was sleeping in had been opened and was too high for the little girl to reach
Detectives spent Sunday door-knocking homes in the North Plantations, five kilometres from Cleo’s hometown of Carnarvon
Mr Wilde said police are ‘trying to understand’ how she could have been taken from the family tent without attracting attention.
He repeated the time frames that police are working from: that Cleo woke up at 1.30am, was given water and went back to sleep, and that her mum realised she was missing around 6am.
The ‘painstaking’ process has involved going through ‘1000 calls to Crime Stoppers’ and speaking to 110 people who were at the Blow Holes campsite.
He confirmed there were ‘a handful’ more people yet to come forward that police want to speak to.
Mr Wilde said police are ‘trying to understand’ how she could have been taken from the family tent without attracting attention
Police have scoured a huge area of WA in the heart-breaking search for little Cleo
The campsite at the Blow Holes, near Carnarvon, WA, where Cleo Smith was abducted
Some of those may have been camping away ‘further away’ but may still have ‘witnessed something’ important.
Acting Police Commissioner Col Blanch confirmed to ABC that investigations are proceeding on the basis that Cleo is ‘likely still in WA’.
Earlier on Tuesday it was revealed police have sorted through mounds of rubbish from roadside bins located hundreds of kilometres away from the campsite.
WA Police released pictures last night showing forensics officers examining 50 cubic metres of garbage collected from receptacles as far south as Geraldton, about 500km from the Blowholes Campground, and Mirilya, about 165km to its north.
Lead investigator, Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde said police now believe Cleo’s disappearance was an opportunistic abduction
Pictured: Police are seen examining rubbish left near the Blowholes campsite in remote WA
It comes as officers issued an extraordinary plea for dash cam and CCTV footage from within a 1000km radius of where the pre-schooler vanished more than a fortnight ago.
Detectives said they are particularly interested in video recordings between 6pm on Friday October 15 and 6pm on Sunday October 17 at a list of specific locations, suggesting they may be closing in on the brazen child predator.
Investigators are seeking footage from motel check in, service stations, fast food outlets, truck stops, free camping areas, children’s clothing stores, pharmacies and camping stores.
The selective list appears to indicate that police may be narrowing in on the suspect who is believed to have snatched the four-year-old from the Blowholes campsite near Carnarvon , in the northwest of the state on October 16.
Police investigating the disappearance of Cleo Smith (pictured) have pleaded for dash cam and CCTV footage within a 1000km radius of where the pre-schooler vanished at a remote campsite in Western Australia
‘Detectives continue to seek dashcam, CCTV or any other footage within a 1000KM radius of the campsite near Carnarvon but only as far south as Lancelin,’ WA police said in a social media alert.
‘It doesn’t matter how insignificant you think it might be.’
Investigators last week undertook the mammoth task of scouring nearby roads and highways in areas surrounding the Blowholes campsite, trawling through rubbish bins in search of degraded clues.
They also door-knocked homes near the child’s family house in Carnarvon, to determine if neighbours had seen anything suspicious in the prior days and weeks.
Investigators last week undertook the mammoth task of scouring the roads and highways in areas surrounding the Blowholes campsite, trawling through rubbish bins for clues. Pictured: A forensic police officer
The development comes as a family-of-seven who were camping less than 100 metres from where Cleo was abducted, have broken their silence about their ‘scarred’ and heartbreaking stay at the site.
It has been 16 days since the little girl was kidnapped while she was sleeping beside her parents and younger sister in their family tent during the early hours of the morning.
Detectives attached to the massive police operation dedicated to Cleo’s disappearance spent Sunday door-knocking homes 5km from the youngster’s hometown of Carnarvon as the search enters its third week.
couple Rob and Kira Prince were camping at the Blowholes at the time and have described their stay which they’ll never forget ‘for all the wrong reasons.’
The desperate search for missing youngster Cleo Smith (pictured) has entered its third week
The couple are travelling around the country in a campervan with their five children, which they’re documenting on the Our Aussie Adventure Facebook page.
The family uploaded photos of their time at Quobba Blow Holes and shared a police flyer regarding Cleo’s disappearance.
‘This camp was beautiful with both rugged cliff faces with powerful waves and lagoon like beaches and the blowholes were absolutely incredible,’ the family posted on Sunday.
‘Unfortunately our stay here was scarred by the disappearance of Cleo Smith from a tent less than 100m from our site.’
‘With four-year-olds of our own this was truly terrifying and heartbreaking. It is a day we will never forget – for all the wrong reasons.
‘While we physically moved on from here once the campground closed, emotionally we are very much still there longing for a positive outcome for Cleo and her family.’
The Prince family were camping less than 100m metres away from where little Cleo disappeared at the Blowholes campsite on October 16. Pictured are the family during their stay at the site
Halloween plea: ‘She loved dressing up as a princess or a doctor’
Cleo Smith’s mum has made another gut-wrenching plea for her four-year-old daughter to be returned home safely as she told of the heartbreak of spendingwithout her daughter.
Ellie Smith on Sunday night called for help finding her ‘shining bright light’ – 16 days after the little girl vanished from her family’s tent near Carnarvon during a camping trip on October 16.
As children across Australia dressed up to go trick or treating, Ms Smith told how her daughter ‘loves dressing up – whether it be a princess or doctor’.
Cleo’s disappearance has sparked a national police operation – with detectives on Sunday door-knocking houses near her hometown as they search for clues.
‘Every day is getting harder without my shining bright light,’ Ms Smith wrote on Instagram.
‘Today she has missed Halloween with her family – her cousins, aunties, uncles, nannas and pop but most of all her parents and baby sister.
‘She needs us and we need her.’
Ellie Smith on Sunday called for help finding her ‘shining bright light’ and urged anyone who had any information to call police
The family told The West Australian they’ve spoken to police ‘a number of times.’
Detectives door-knocked a number of homes along the North West Coastal Highway in the North Plantations, 5km from Cleo’s hometown on Sunday.
The reason for the visits hasn’t been made public, Nine News reported.
It comes as Cleo’s frantic mum issued yet another public appeal on social media for her daughter to come home.
‘My kind hearted baby girl mummy wants you home,’ Ellie Smith wrote in an Instagram story on Sunday.
Ms Smith also posted a missing persons image of Cleo urging anyone with information to contact police.
The Prince family said their time camping at The Blowholes was ‘scarred’ by the disappearance of Cleo Smith from a tent less than 100 metres away
Earlier on Sunday, the owner of a shack which capturedof Cleo on its CCTV system has opened up about the ‘panicked’ moments after the little girl vanished.
Dave Sadecky, handed over the crucial CCTV of little Cleo to police which placed her at the campsite on the night before she vanished.
The motion sensitive camera is installed inside their beach shack which was just 20 metres away from the family tent and takes a wide-angled photo of everyone who enters or leaves it.
The camera captures audio and images from inside a painted wooden box with a glass front and would not appear obvious to those passing by.
Dave Sadecky, who owns a nearby shack at the campsite, captured the voice of Cleo on his shack’s CCTV system, and handed it over to police
When Mr Sadecky and his wife learnt of the news surrounding the four-year-old, they immediately jumped on their quad bikes to join the search.
‘I didn’t know the ins and outs of what was going on but everyone was panicked,’ Mr Sadecky told.
‘People dropped everything and came to help … they were everywhere on Saturday like ants — it’s not a normal sight.’
The couple ended up scouring the area for 10 hours on the day Cleo was last seen.
She had woken up at 1.30am on the Saturday to ask her mother Ellie for a sip of water but when her parents woke again at about 6am, Cleo was gone.
The four-year-old had woken up at 1.30am on the Saturday to ask her mother Ellie for a sip of water but when her parents woke again at about 6am, Cleo was gone
‘Everyone was emotional, people were clearly stressed and anxious but wanted to help. We’ve never had anything like this happen before. We’re there every other weekend, we’re kicking ourselves we weren’t there that night,’ Mr Sadecky said.
He said the campsite would now be ‘tainted’ from what happened, a local at Blowholes himself.
He added there was a tight-knit community in the area and that often people would leave their doors unlocked.
Cleo is seen with her mother Ellie Smith. A $1million reward is on offer to anybody with information into her disappearance
It comes after it was revealed detectives in the 100-strong taskforce had responded to 200 potential sightings of Cleo in the two weeks since she disappeared.
Timeline of events the day Cleo’s family realise she’s missing
1.30am: Cleo Smith wakes up and is given water before going back to sleep
About 6am: Ellie Smith wakes up and realises Cleo and her sleeping bag are missing.
6.23am — Ellie calls 000 to report her eldest daughter missing as she continues to search the camp ground.
6.30am — The first two officers are dispatched from Carnarvon police station. They travel to Blowholes as a matter of priority, with sirens and lights.
6.41am — A second police car with another two officers is sent to Blowholes, also with lights and sirens.
7.10am — The first police car arrives. The second is only minutes behind.
7.26am — Police on the scene establish a protected forensic area which is taped off to the public, surrounding the family tent where Cleo was last seen.
7.33am — A drone operator is called upon to search from the skies.
7.44am — A third police car is dispatched to the Blowholes.
8am — Family and friends of Cleo’s parents begin to arrive to help with the ground search.
Another group of detectives briefly searches Cleo’s home to make sure she’s not there. They then head to Blowholes and begin stopping cars coming into and leaving the area.
8.09am — A helicopter from a local company arrived at the scene and started searching as police request an SES team attend the Blowholes search.
8.24am – Police airwing and volunteer marine searchers are called in to assist with the search.
8.34am — Roadblocks are set up at the entrance of Blowholes as detectives gather the names, registration details and addresses of people coming and going. Police search cars.
9.25am — Nine SES personel arrive at the Blowholes to assist with the search.
9.30am — Detectives sit down with a distressed Ellie and remain by her side for the rest of the day while other search crews hunt for Cleo.
11am — Homicide detectives from the Major Crime Division are called and begin travelling from Perth to assist with the search.
1pm — More homicide detectives and search experts are flown in from Perth.
3pm — Officers and search experts arrive in Carnarvon to offer their expertise.
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