Cleo Smith’s shattered mother and stepdad have broken their silence four days after the little girl disappeared as fears grow she was abducted and ‘flown interstate’.
Ellie Smith and her partner, Jake Gliddon, fronted the media near the Blowholes campsite north of Carnarvon in Western Australia where the four-year-old was last seen about 1.30am on Saturday.
An emotional Ms Smith said of her daughter: ‘We’re going to find her, we have to’.
It marked the first time the couple have spoken publicly since little Cleo vanished, with Ms Smith issuing an urgent plea for help on social media on Sunday.
An intense search for the missing four-year-old resumed about midday local time after wild weather and a storm cell forced emergency services to call it quits.
Ellie Smith and her partner, Jake Gliddon (pictured) have fronted the media for the first time since four-year-old Cleo went missing near the Blowholes campsite north of Carnarvon in Western Australia four days ago
Police referenced an ‘interaction’ between the four-year-old and her parents (pictured with her mum Ellie and partner Jake Gliddon) about 1.30am on Saturday – sparking intense public scrutiny that something sinister occurred
It comes as Daily Mail Australia revealed Cleo woke up in the middle of the night and asked her parents for a sip of water hours before she disappeared.
Police referenced an ‘interaction’ between the four-year-old and her parents about 1.30am on Saturday – sparking intense public scrutiny that something sinister occurred.
But Daily Mail Australia confirmed the detective was referring to something as innocuous as ‘asking for a sip of water’ in the middle of the night, before she rolled over and went back to sleep.
‘There is nothing to suggest anything suspicious occurred in that moment,’ a police source said.
Cleo Smith woke up in the middle of the night and asked her parents for a sip of water hours before she disappeared
A land search was suspended on Tuesday due to wild winds and an intense storm
Social media sleuths seized on the detective’s turn of phrase, suspecting something more dramatic had taken place.
Within some circles, the word had even been twisted and there were false reports the officer referenced an ‘altercation’.
‘It was just a word,’ the source said. ‘Nothing out of the ordinary took place.’
The detective who initially made the comment has since confirmed he was referring to Cleo asking for water.
‘What I can confirm is that the four of them (the family) were in the family tent, Cleo was spoken to about 1.30am when she woke up to get a drink, everyone went back to sleep,’ Inspector Jon Munday said.
Little Cleo had been sleeping soundly up until that point and both she and her baby sister Isla were in the tent when her parents went to bed.
They woke at 6am and discovered Cleo was missing. The red and grey sleeping bag she’d been tucked into was also gone.
There are fears Cleo (pictured) may have wandered off in the dead of night, only to fall into one of the many holes nearby. But close family friends insisted the four-year-old wouldn’t do that
Police Inspector Jon Munday said experts have advised the four-year-old could have wandered up to 5.2km from her last known position if she is lost in the bush
Ms Smith and Mr Gliddon immediately alerted all other campers in the vicinity.
By the time police and emergency services arrived, some guests had sent up private drones to search from the sky and others were using motorbikes to scour the area.
There has been no sign of Cleo since her parents’ final brief exchange with her at 1.30am.
Police have not ruled out any theories relating to her disappearance – including the possibility that she was abducted.
Officers have grave concerns for the four-year-old and ‘everything is on the table’ in the unusual and disturbing case.
They are considering the possibility that if she was kidnapped, Cleo could already have been moved interstate.
Mr Munday said Cleo could ‘potentially be anywhere now’ given three days have passed since she was last seen while issuing a national plea for information.
‘We can’t rule out the fact that Cleo may be still in the area, we can’t rule out the fact she’s left the area and if she’s left the area that is probably is our worse case scenario because that really paints a sinister picture with what’s happened,’ he said.
The inspector also confirmed police had interviewed Cleo’s biological father Daniel Staines at the Mandurah Police Station on Monday, where he willingly provided a statement. There is no suggestion he had anything to do with Cleo’s disappearance.
Cleo Smith, four, was last seen at about 1.30am on Saturday at the Blowholes campsite on the coast at Macleod, north of Carnarvon, in Western Australia (pictured, the campsite Cleo went missing from)
Police are probing all possibilities of Cleo’s mystery disappearance – including kidnapping – and have been scouring bushland and stopping cars and caravans in search of the missing girl
‘We’re keen to get this messaging out nationally to anybody. She could be anywhere by now which is really concerning.’
Mr Munday vowed to continue ‘throwing everything at this’ for as long as it takes to bring Cleo home.
The inspector has been leading the search and repeatedly fronted the media to provide an update on Cleo’s disappearance and the search efforts.
He sparked furore on Sunday when he said: ‘The parents did have an interaction with Cleo in the early hours of the morning’ during a live press conference.
The camp ground is located 75km from Carnarvon and 875km from Perth with nothing but bushland and scrubs in between.
Some campers reportedly heard a vehicle speed off at about 3am on Saturday, but police have so far declined to comment on the matter.
Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and her partner Jake Gliddon immediately alerted all other campers in the vicinity when they realised she was missing (pictured, four-year-old Cleo left with mum Ellie)
Police say they have grave concerns for the child (pictured) and that ‘everything is on the table’ in the unusual and disturbing case
It has been confirmed that detectives have seized CCTV footages from roadhouses in the area as part of their investigation.
Cleo is estimated to be around 110 centimetres tall with honey blonde coloured hair and hazel eyes. She has reportedly visited the area with her mother on camping trips since she was a baby.
There are mounting concerns for her welfare, particularly if the four-year-old did simply wander off and remains exposed to the elements.
A major storm cell hit the region and is expected to last well into the night.
The wild weather has forced emergency services to temporarily suspend the search as it entered a fourth day however efforts restarted on Tuesday afternoon.
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said his thoughts were with Cleo’s loved ones during what undoubtedly was an ‘extremely difficult’ time.
‘To every officer and volunteer involved in search can I say thank you for your efforts on behalf of the Smith family,’ the leader state on Tuesday.
‘To Cleo’s family and on behalf of West Australians, we are thinking of you at this difficult time.’
Anyone with information is asked to contact police immediately on 131 444.
A strong cold front, heavy winds and rain brought more treacherous search conditions for volunteers – including local Indigenous bush trackers who have been assisting with the search