New Details Emerge About 4-Year-Old Australian Girl Found Safe Weeks After Disappearance

TODAY via YouTube

When a 4 year-old Australian girl named Cleo Smith went missing while on a camping trip with her family in western Australia, her family—as well as the entire country of Australia—was horrified. The local police went on a massive search and rescue mission for her, and, in some miracle event, after 18 full days, the little girl has been found safe.

At the time of her disappearance, Cleo was on vacation with her mother, Ellie Smith, her stepfather, Jake Gliddon, and her younger sister. She was rescued nearly three weeks later in an empty home in the small town of Carnarvon, the same town where she and her family also live. As a result of the rescue, the police detained a 36-year-old man, but no further details about him were released, except that he was not connected in any way to the family.

Before Cleo was found, the authorities had issued a reward of one million Australian dollars (or $740,000 U.S.) for help finding Cleo. The search effort had 100 police officers and military surveillance planes attempting to find her, which paid off in the end, but it really hit home for many families in the country.

As each day passed, more and more hope was going down the drain. The longer children are missing, the less likely that it is to find them alive and well. But that wasn’t the case for little Cleo.

“The likelihood of her being recovered alive was very low and getting lower as the days passed,” said Xanthe Mallett, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Newcastle. “For a child to be taken and found well after nearly 19 days, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this kind of outcome.”

When the officers found Cleo and asked her what her name was, it was truly one of the most bittersweet moments to exist.

“When she said, ‘My name is Cleo,’ I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house,” said Deputy Commissioner Blanch. “This morning I have seen seasoned detectives openly crying with relief.”

“Our family is whole again,” Ms. Smith posted on social media with a picture of their rescued daughter.

To hear the moment the officers found Cleo, as well as more information on the case, check out the emotional video below.

What a happy ending to an incredibly sad story! Were you following along with this case?