Police search Cleo Smith’s family home for a third time but say her parents aren’t suspects
West Australian Police have searched the home of missing four-year-old girl Cleo Smith for a third time, but say her parents are not suspects in her mysterious disappearance.
Acting Police Commissioner Col Blanch said forensic examinations at the Carnarvon home of Ellie Smith and Jake Gliddon was “standard practice” and part of eliminating everyone who was at the Blowholes Campground in Macleod on October 16 as a suspect.
“We must do a thorough investigation,” Mr Blanch told 6PR radio on Wednesday.
“The parents have been nothing but helpful. We’ve worked very closely with them, they’ve let us into their home, they’ve let us into their cars, their phones — everything.
“Our job is to eliminate everyone that was at that campsite, and that is a systematic and thorough approach in doing so in any investigation.
“That really is the focus of the investigation at the moment.”
On Tuesday, detectives and forensic officers scoured through the home for several hours before leaving with two evidence bags.
Ms Smith and Mr Gliddon have also vehemently denied having any involvement in the girl’s disappearance.
“No way – we love our daughter and want her home,” Ms Smith told Seven’s Flashpoint program.
“There is no way that either myself or Jake could’ve done anything to hurt our daughter.
“She’s been taken from our family, from somewhere she’s meant to feel safe.”
Police suspect Cleo was abducted from her family’s tent some time between 1.30am when her parents last saw her, and 6am when they discovered she was missing.
But Mr Blanch said police were still “very open-minded” with their investigation.
Mr Blanch said everyone still held hope Cleo would return home safely.
“There’s a massive police team up in Carnarvon, up at the blowholes, still working everyday,” he said.
“It’s important we all have hope that we can bring Cleo home.
“The team are focused on finding Cleo, getting the evidence and doing the best we can to solve this and that’s really our priority.”
A major focus of the police investigation revolves around a report from two people who said they saw a car turn right off Blowholes Rd onto North West Coastal Hwy, heading towards Carnarvon, between 3am and 3.30am the day Cleo vanished.
Police have been examining CCTV footage from businesses and homes that may have captured the car or anything else that might be relevant to the probe.
“That is really one of our investigative areas of focus,” Mr Blanch said.
“It’s not to say that we’re saying that that is the person (who abducted Cleo), but certainly driving around at 3am coming out of there would peak our interest as to who it was and what they were doing there, and maybe what they saw themselves.”
Asked about bounty hunters trying to cash in on the $1m reward money to solve the mystery, Mr Blanch said the main thing was that people were looking for Cleo.
“The $1m reward was put out there to help us find Cleo, and I think people — whether it’s for the money or whether it’s just to do the right thing and help find Cleo — people are up there trying to find what happened,” he said.
“There’s still a lot of land up there to cover. I just ask that people don’t put themselves in any danger in doing so.”
Mr Blanch said as tragic as the situation was, it was comforting to know that so many Australians had stepped forward to help.
Meanwhile, Ms Smith said she had been “overwhelmed” by the generosity of people who had donated to a GoFundMe page set up to help bring her daughter home.
“We had a lovely friend start a GoFundMe to support the small businesses and ourselves during this nightmare,” she posted on Instagram.
“We have been overwhelmed with so much love and support, especially our community, friends and family.”
More than $80,000 has been raised so far.
“While money doesn’t compare to having your sweet daughter safely back in your arms, we want you to know that everyone across Australia is impacted by your tragedy,” one donor wrote.
“We stand by you and tightly embrace you and little Cleo. We pray every day she is returned immediately and safely to you.”
Anyone with information about Cleo’s disappearance is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.
Originally published as Police search Cleo Smith’s family home for a third time but say her parents aren’t suspects
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