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Cleo Smith: What WA four-year-old will be able to remember about her Carnarvon abduction

Cleo Smith: What WA four-year-old will be able to remember about her Carnarvon abduction
Cleo Smith was found 'alive and well' by police locked in a house in her hometown - just seven minutes drive from her own family home - after a terrifying 18-day ordeal

Cleo Smith was found 'alive and well' by police locked in a house in her hometown - just seven minutes drive from her own family home - after a terrifying 18-day ordeal

Cleo Smith was found ‘alive and well’ by police locked in a house in her hometown – just seven minutes drive from her own family home – after a terrifying 18-day ordeal 

Little Cleo Smith will have a very clear recollection of parts of her 18-day ordeal but detectives face a race against time to extract key details from the youngster, a leading psychologist has warned. 

The four-year-old was reunited with her family barely 24 hours ago after police rammed their way into a rundown house in Carnarvon just before 1am on Wednesday morning. 

She went missing 18 days earlier from her family’s tent at the remote Blowholes campsite 73km away from the town, sparking a massive police search operation.  

Forensic psychologist Dr Celine Van Golde said Cleo may only remember specific ‘events’ during her abduction and should be interviewed as soon as possible to minimise any memory loss.

‘If it was 10 years later, it would be a different question,’ she told News Corp. ‘But at this point if she’s interviewed in an appropriate way, she can recall a lot of details.’

The University of Sydney senior lecturer said specially-trained officers who know how to interview children may get the best results by asking her about specific points during her abduction.

She said children often have very detailed memories of particular moments or events, rather than a general recollection of what happened to them.

The first picture of Cleo, safe and sound in hospital, after she was rescued from a house in Carnarvon, in northwest Western Australia, where she was held for 18 days

The first picture of Cleo, safe and sound in hospital, after she was rescued from a house in Carnarvon, in northwest Western Australia, where she was held for 18 days

The first picture of Cleo, safe and sound in hospital, after she was rescued from a house in Carnarvon, in northwest Western Australia, where she was held for 18 days

In Cleo’s case, she may be able to clearly recall the finer details of being taken from her family’s tent.

‘What we find is that you are able to get very accurate details if you go for example by the event that happens,’ Dr Golde said. 

The youngster’s memory may have been affected by any trauma she suffered, the expert claimed, but Cleo would be forthcoming if asked the right questions.

‘She could have issues with remembering specific details. However, with appropriate interviewing techniques, details can be retrieved as well from a memory,’ the expert said.

The police investigation into her disappearance dramatically shifted after officers raided the Tonkin Crescent house and found Cleo in one of the rooms at 12.46am on Wednesday morning.

Hopes were fading fast the toddler would be found alive but a ‘tip off’ late on Tuesday night was the ‘final piece of the puzzle’ police needed to pounce.

Her suspected abductor, a 36-year-old man (pictured), was taken to hospital after his arrest

Cleo’s suspected abductor, 36, was arrested about an hour before she was found after being bundled out of a car in the town and rushed to hospital. 

The intel from the public contained ‘really important information about a car’ which was later confirmed with phone data and ‘a lot of forensic leads’.  

The first images of the suspect have been revealed showing the man in the back of an ambulance with bandages wrapped around his head. 

He spent Wednesday morning being interrogated by detectives before being rushed to Carnarvon Hospital where he is now being guarded by three police officers. 

A reward poster for missing Cleo Smith is seen on Wednesday outside Carnarvon Airport (pictured) hours after the four-year-old was miraculously found alive and well

A reward poster for missing Cleo Smith is seen on Wednesday outside Carnarvon Airport (pictured) hours after the four-year-old was miraculously found alive and well

A reward poster for missing Cleo Smith is seen on Wednesday outside Carnarvon Airport (pictured) hours after the four-year-old was miraculously found alive and well

Cleo is now back in the arms of her mum Ellie and stepfather Jake (pictured together with younger daughter Isla) after 18 agonising days of searching for their little girl

Cleo is now back in the arms of her mum Ellie and stepfather Jake (pictured together with younger daughter Isla) after 18 agonising days of searching for their little girl

Cleo is now back in the arms of her mum Ellie and stepfather Jake (pictured together with younger daughter Isla) after 18 agonising days of searching for their little girl

Neighbours who witnessed the dramatic police raid, after which officers were seen carrying a crow bar and a battering ram out of the house, described how Cleo was carried to safety. 

‘We stood back and waited but after that, we saw someone, on the detective shoulder. We thought it might be the little girl, which it was,’ Henry Dodd said. 

‘I went closer to the detectives car and I saw her in the back of the car with the detective, he was holding her. They put her in the back and I came over, rushed over here and seen her there. She looked at me, a bit scared.’ 

Mr Dodd said he was shocked he had been just metres away from her while the nationwide hunt was going on for her.

‘I just can’t believe it and get over the fact that she is just the house down from us and locked up here for a couple of weeks,’ he added.

‘Going on three weeks, she is straight across from us. I’ve got little sisters there…’ 

Shocked neighbours (pictured) woke up to the news that Cleo Smith was found by WA police on their quiet street

Shocked neighbours (pictured) woke up to the news that Cleo Smith was found by WA police on their quiet street

Shocked neighbours (pictured) woke up to the news that Cleo Smith was found by WA police on their quiet street

Cleo was found in her hometown of Carnarvon in Western Australia, 75km from where she went missing on October 16

Cleo was found in her hometown of Carnarvon in Western Australia, 75km from where she went missing on October 16

Cleo was found in her hometown of Carnarvon in Western Australia, 75km from where she went missing on October 16

Police feared Cleo could have been spirited away to anywhere in the country – but instead she was under their noses all along just 3km from her home and 75km from the campsite. 

Cleo was likely already locked up in the house when her parents Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon awoke at 6am to find she was no longer lying next to them and her baby sister Isla in their tent.

Police initially believed she had simply wandered off but investigators soon came to the worrying conclusion she had been snatched by a brazen child predator in the dead of night.   

CLEO DISAPPEARANCE TIMELINE

By Olivia Day for Daily Mail Australia

Friday, October 15

Cleo along with her mother Ellie Smith, her partner Jake Gliddon and her little sister Isla Mae arrive at the Blowholes campsite around 6:30pm.

They had a ‘quiet’ night and arrived at sunset.

Saturday, October 16

1:30am: Parents’ last sighting of Cleo in the tent she shared with her parents and baby sister when the four-year-old asks for some water.

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 air-wing 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.

Investigators, bounty hunters and officers from the Australian Federal Police have spent two-and-a-half weeks searching for missing four-year-old Cleo (pictured)

Investigators, bounty hunters and officers from the Australian Federal Police have spent two-and-a-half weeks searching for missing four-year-old Cleo (pictured)

Investigators, bounty hunters and officers from the Australian Federal Police have spent two-and-a-half weeks searching for missing four-year-old Cleo (pictured)

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.

Sunday, October 17

Ms Smith takes to social media to plead for help finding her missing daughter.

A Facebook post uploaded at 1:45am on Sunday which said: ‘It’s been over 24 hours since I last seen the sparkle in my little girl’s eyes.

‘Please help me find her!

‘If you hear or see anything at all please call the police!’

Police suggest Cleo may have been abducted.

Monday, October 18

Police release an image of the red and grey sleeping bag missing from Cleo’s tent.

Cleo’s biological father is interviewed by police in Mandurah and is asked to provide a statement, which he does so willingly.

WA Police with the help of SES members, volunteers and aircraft continue the land hunt for Cleo, with officers searching nearby shacks and vehicles in the area.

Tuesday, October 19

Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and her partner Jake Gliddon front the media for the first time and describe the terrifying moment they realised the little girl was missing.

Ms Smith says her four-year-old would never have left the tent by herself.

Police release new images of Cleo and the pink and blue one-piece she was wearing the night she went missing to aid the investigation.

Investigators urge anyone who was at the campsite or in the vicinity on October 15 to get in contact with police. 

Wednesday, October 20

Police reveal the zip of the family tent, which was found hanging wide open by her mother at 6am on Saturday morning, was too high for Cleo to reach.

Officers say they ‘haven’t ruled out’ reports from campers who heard the sound of screeching tyres in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Deputy Police Commissioner Daryl Gaunt confirms officers are investigating the whereabouts of 20 registered sex offenders in the Carnarvon area.

Thursday, October 21

The WA Government offers a $1million reward for information that leads to Cleo’s location announced by WA Premier Mark McGowan.

‘All Western Australians’ thoughts are with Cleo’s family during what is an unimaginably difficult time,’ Mr McGowan said.

‘We’re all praying for a positive outcome.’

The speed of the reward being issued – within days of her disappearance – was unprecedented.

Pictured: Police are seen examining rubbish left near the Blowholes campsite in remote WA

Pictured: Police are seen examining rubbish left near the Blowholes campsite in remote WA

Pictured: Police are seen examining rubbish left near the Blowholes campsite in remote WA 

Monday, October 25

WA Police confirm Cleo was definitely at the camp site – on CCTV footage on a camera installed inside a beach shack just 20 metres from the family tent she disappeared from. 

Tuesday, October 26

Forensic officers and detectives spent much of the day at her home in Carnarvon, 900km north of Perth, on Tuesday and left with two bags of evidence.

Although investigators had been to the home before, this was the first time they thoroughly searched inside with a forensics team.

Acting WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch said the search of the family home was ‘standard practice’ and did not indicate they were suspects in Cleo’s disappearance.

Wednesday, October 27

WA Police forensics officers return to the Blowholes campground and are seen collecting soil samples from a number of campfires near shacks in the area.

The federal government announce Australian Federal Police officers had been drafted in to support forensic and intelligence efforts.

Friday, October 29

Police return to the Blowholes camp to analyse the area with drones.

Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde returns to the Blowholes campsite to join the search for Cleo as the search hit the two-week mark.

He confirms national and international agencies are engaged in the search for Cleo.

Sunday, October 31

Detectives go door-knocking at a number of homes along the North West Coastal Highway in the North Plantations, 5km from Cleo’s hometown on Sunday.

Monday, November 1

Detectives sort through mounds of rubbish from roadside bins located hundreds of kilometres away from the campsite she vanished from.

The material was transported to Perth, where forensic officers and recruits sorted through hundreds of bags in search of items that may have helped them find Cleo.

Officers issue a plea for dash cam and CCTV footage from within a 1000km radius of where the four-year-old disappeared.

Police renew an appeal for more businesses in Carnarvon to provide footage and go door to door in an industrial area on the outskirts of the town.

Her elated mother, Ellie, (pictured, with Cleo, her partner and younger daughter) broke her silence the morning Cleo was found, sharing a series of love heart emojis on Instagram

Her elated mother, Ellie, (pictured, with Cleo, her partner and younger daughter) broke her silence the morning Cleo was found, sharing a series of love heart emojis on Instagram

Her elated mother, Ellie, (pictured, with Cleo, her partner and younger daughter) broke her silence the morning Cleo was found, sharing a series of love heart emojis on Instagram 

Wednesday, November 3

After two-and-a-half weeks of searching Cleo Smith is found alive and well in the early hours of November 3.

WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch confirmed just before 7am AEST that little Cleo is alive and well and had been reunited with her relieved parents.

‘One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her ‘what’s your name?’ he said. ‘She said: ‘My name is Cleo’.’

Ellie Smith posted to social media: ‘Our family is whole again’.

A Carnarvon man is currently in custody and being questioned by detectives.

On October 19, Ellie Smith (pictured) and her partner Jake Gliddon fronted the media for the first time and begged the public to report any information 'big or small'

On October 19, Ellie Smith (pictured) and her partner Jake Gliddon fronted the media for the first time and begged the public to report any information 'big or small'

On October 19, Ellie Smith (pictured) and her partner Jake Gliddon fronted the media for the first time and begged the public to report any information ‘big or small’

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Source: DailyMail

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