Cleo Smith search: No suspects in girl’s case after five days missing near Blowholes campsite
Police delivered a bombshell in the Cleo Smith investigation today as they revealed the tent in which she was sleeping the morning she disappeared was unzipped to a height the four-year-old could not have reached.
One of the door flaps of the grey eight-person tent in which the missing girl and her family were staying was left open at a position well above Cleo’s head.
Speaking metres from the Blowholes campsite where the tent was pitched, Insp. Jon Munday said Cleo had been sleeping next to one of two front entry ways when she vanished sometime between 1.30am and 6am. By the time her mother Ellie Smith, stepfather Jake Gliddon and baby sister Isla woke, there was no trace of her.
“One of the major circumstances that has given us the cause for alarm for Cleo’s safety is the fact that one of those zippered entry ways was opened,” Insp. Munday said.
“The positioning of that zipper for the flap is one of the circumstances that has caused us to have grave concerns.”
He said the height at which it was left was one of several key details in the case that has investigators particularly worried.
“There are circumstances around her disappearance that make it very concerning ... like the fact that the zipper was allegedly up so high (and) the sleeping bag is missing,” Insp. Munday said.
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The tent, as well as several shacks near where the family was camping, have been thoroughly examined by forensic officers. The tent is on its way to Perth for further testing.
The search for Cleo tomorrow enters its sixth day. Deputy Commissioner Darryl Gaunt said with each passing hour there was less chance she would be found alive.
Police this afternoon did not have any suspects in relation to the investigation, despite a large amount of information including CCTV and dash-cam footage taken from the area, provided by members of the public.
Insp. Munday said all the registered sex offenders in the area had been identified and spoken to and were “being dealt with by the investigative arm” of the case. “There are certain people we are interested in,” he said.
It came after it was confirmed people would have been able to leave the campsite in the time it took police to block off the road after Cleo’s parents rang triple-0. “Potentially there are people out there that were here in the campsite vicinity that we don’t know about,” Insp. Munday said. “We do know of a lot of people that were here, but there is the possibility we aren’t aware of (everyone).”
The possibility Cleo was abducted is one of two scenarios police are considering and has been described as the “worst case”.
No one in the campground saw Cleo the night the family arrived at the popular spot but Insp. Munday said police had “things placing Cleo at the camp site”.
Insp Munday said police had “technological evidence” she had been there with her parents and there was nothing to indicate their account was “anything but accurate and truthful”.
State Emergency Services, homicide detectives, mounted police, rangers, Indigenous bush trackers and Australian Defence Force members, have scoured more than 20sqkm of the Coral Coast’s rugged terrain.
Cleo’s family are set on staying at the shacks by the Blowholes campground.
“They simply don’t know what to do. They don’t want to leave and that’s completely understandable,” Insp Munday said. “They’re distraught. They’re going to stay here in case Cleo comes back.”
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