Grim twist in Cleo Smith mystery as police sort through garbage

Grim twist in Cleo Smith mystery as police investigate mounds of garbage from roadside bins 500km away from the camp pre-schooler vanished from

  • WA Police release pictures of detectives scouring through a garbage heap 
  • Cleo Smith vanished from Blowholes campsite in early hours of October 16 
  • Detectives are also pleading for video recordings from a 48 hour window  
  • Detectives investigating the disappearance of Cleo Smith have sorted through mounds of rubbish from roadside bins located hundreds of kilometres away from the campsite she vanished from. 

    WA Police released pictures last night showing forensics officers examining garbage collected from receptacles from Geraldton, about 500km south of the Blowholes Campground, and Mirilya, about 165 to the site’s north. 

    It comes as officers issued an extraordinary plea for dash cam and CCTV footage from within a 1000km radius of where the pre-schooler vanished more than a fortnight ago. 

    Detectives said they are particularly interested in video recordings between 6pm on Friday October 15 and 6pm on Sunday October 17 at a list of specific locations, suggesting they may be closing in on the brazen child predator.

    Investigators are seeking footage from motel check in, service stations, fast food outlets, truck stops, free camping areas, children’s clothing stores, pharmacies and camping stores.

    The selective list appears to indicate that police may be narrowing in on the suspect who is believed to have snatched the four-year-old from the Blowholes campsite near Carnarvon , in the northwest of the state on October 16.

    Police investigating the disappearance of Cleo Smith (pictured) have pleaded for dash cam and CCTV footage within a 1000km radius of where the pre-schooler vanished at a remote campsite in Western Australia

    Police investigating the disappearance of Cleo Smith (pictured) have pleaded for dash cam and CCTV footage within a 1000km radius of where the pre-schooler vanished at a remote campsite in Western Australia

    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: The forensic officers are seen wearing full protective gear include gas masks

    Pictured: The forensic officers are seen wearing full protective gear include gas masks 

    ‘Detectives continue to seek dashcam, CCTV or any other footage within a 1000KM radius of the campsite near Carnarvon but only as far south as Lancelin,’ WA police said in a social media alert. 

    ‘It doesn’t matter how insignificant you think it might be.’

    Investigators last week undertook the mammoth task of scouring nearby roads and highways in areas surrounding the Blowholes campsite, trawling through rubbish bins in search of degraded clues. 

    They also door-knocked homes near the child’s family house in Carnarvon, to determine if neighbours had seen anything suspicious in the prior days and weeks.

    Investigators last week undertook the mammoth task of scouring the roads and highways in areas surrounding the Blowholes campsite, trawling through rubbish bins for clues. Pictured: A forensic police officer

    Investigators last week undertook the mammoth task of scouring the roads and highways in areas surrounding the Blowholes campsite, trawling through rubbish bins for clues. Pictured: A forensic police officer

    The development comes as a family-of-seven who were camping less than 100 metres from where Cleo was abducted, have broken their silence about their ‘scarred’ and heartbreaking stay at the site.

    It has been 16 days since the little girl was kidnapped while she was sleeping beside her parents and younger sister in their family tent during the early hours of the morning. 

    Detectives attached to the massive police operation dedicated to Cleo’s disappearance spent Sunday door-knocking homes 5km from the youngster’s hometown of Carnarvon as the search enters its third week.

    Queensland couple Rob and Kira Prince were camping at the Blowholes at the time and have described their stay which they’ll never forget ‘for all the wrong reasons.’ 

    The desperate search for missing youngster Cleo Smith (pictured) has entered its third week

    The desperate search for missing youngster Cleo Smith (pictured) has entered its third week 

    The couple are travelling around the country in a campervan with their five children, which they’re documenting on the Our Aussie Adventure Facebook page.

    The family uploaded photos of their time at Quobba Blow Holes and shared a police flyer regarding Cleo’s disappearance.

    ‘This camp was beautiful with both rugged cliff faces with powerful waves and lagoon like beaches and the blowholes were absolutely incredible,’ the family posted on Sunday.

    ‘Unfortunately our stay here was scarred by the disappearance of Cleo Smith from a tent less than 100m from our site.’

    ‘With four-year-olds of our own this was truly terrifying and heartbreaking. It is a day we will never forget – for all the wrong reasons.

    ‘While we physically moved on from here once the campground closed, emotionally we are very much still there longing for a positive outcome for Cleo and her family.’

    The Prince family were camping less than 100m metres away from where little Cleo disappeared at the Blowholes campsite on October 16. Pictured are the family during their stay at the site

    The Prince family were camping less than 100m metres away from where little Cleo disappeared at the Blowholes campsite on October 16. Pictured are the family during their stay at the site

    Detectives spent Sunday door-knocking homes in the North Plantations, five kilometres from Cleo's hometown of Carnarvon

    Detectives spent Sunday door-knocking homes in the North Plantations, five kilometres from Cleo’s hometown of Carnarvon

    Halloween plea: ‘She loved dressing up as a princess or a doctor’ 

    Cleo Smith’s mum has made another gut-wrenching plea for her four-year-old daughter to be returned home safely as she told of the heartbreak of spending Halloween without her daughter.

    Ellie Smith on Sunday night called for help finding her ‘shining bright light’ – 16 days after the little girl vanished from her family’s tent near Carnarvon during a camping trip on October 16.

    As children across Australia dressed up to go trick or treating, Ms Smith told how her daughter ‘loves dressing up – whether it be a princess or doctor’.

    Cleo’s disappearance has sparked a national police operation – with detectives on Sunday door-knocking houses near her hometown as they search for clues. 

    ‘Every day is getting harder without my shining bright light,’ Ms Smith wrote on Instagram. 

    ‘Today she has missed Halloween with her family – her cousins, aunties, uncles, nannas and pop but most of all her parents and baby sister. 

    ‘She needs us and we need her.’  

    Ellie Smith on Sunday called for help finding her 'shining bright light' and urged anyone who had any information to call police

    Ellie Smith on Sunday called for help finding her ‘shining bright light’ and urged anyone who had any information to call police

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    The family told The West Australian they’ve spoken to police ‘a number of times.’

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

    The reason for the visits hasn’t been made public, Nine News reported.

    It comes as Cleo’s frantic mum issued yet another public appeal on social media for her daughter to come home.

    ‘My kind hearted baby girl mummy wants you home,’ Ellie Smith wrote in an Instagram story on Sunday.

    Ms Smith also posted a missing persons image of Cleo urging anyone with information to contact police.

    She and Cleo’s stepfather Jake Gliddon have been ruled out  by police of having have had any involvement in the girl’s disappearance.

    The Prince family said their time camping at The Blowholes was 'scarred' by the disappearance of Cleo Smith from a tent less than 100 metres away

    The Prince family said their time camping at The Blowholes was ‘scarred’ by the disappearance of Cleo Smith from a tent less than 100 metres away

    Little Cleo Smith has been missing for two weeks, having last been seen at the Blowholes campground near Carnarvon in WA

    Little Cleo Smith has been missing for two weeks, having last been seen at the Blowholes campground near Carnarvon in WA

    Earlier on Sunday, the owner of a shack which captured the voice of Cleo on its CCTV system has opened up about the ‘panicked’ moments after the little girl vanished. 

    Dave Sadecky, handed over the crucial CCTV of little Cleo to police which placed her at the campsite on the night before she vanished.

    The motion sensitive camera is installed inside their beach shack which was just 20 metres away from the family tent and takes a wide-angled photo of everyone who enters or leaves it.

    The camera captures audio and images from inside a painted wooden box with a glass front and would not appear obvious to those passing by.

    Dave Sadecky, who owns a nearby shack at the campsite, captured the voice of Cleo on his shack's CCTV system, and handed it over to police

    Dave Sadecky, who owns a nearby shack at the campsite, captured the voice of Cleo on his shack’s CCTV system, and handed it over to police

    When Mr Sadecky and his wife learnt of the news surrounding the four-year-old, they immediately jumped on their quad bikes to join the search. 

    ‘I didn’t know the ins and outs of what was going on but everyone was panicked,’ Mr Sadecky told The West Australian.

    ‘People dropped everything and came to help … they were everywhere on Saturday like ants — it’s not a normal sight.’

    The couple ended up scouring the area for 10 hours on the day Cleo was last seen.

    She had woken up at 1.30am on the Saturday to ask her mother Ellie for a sip of water but when her parents woke again at about 6am, Cleo was gone.

    The four-year-old had woken up at 1.30am on the Saturday to ask her mother Ellie for a sip of water but when her parents woke again at about 6am, Cleo was gone

    The four-year-old had woken up at 1.30am on the Saturday to ask her mother Ellie for a sip of water but when her parents woke again at about 6am, Cleo was gone

    Detectives found the zip on the tent Cleo was sleeping in had been opened and was too high for the little girl to reach

    Detectives found the zip on the tent Cleo was sleeping in had been opened and was too high for the little girl to reach

    ‘Everyone was emotional, people were clearly stressed and anxious but wanted to help. We’ve never had anything like this happen before. We’re there every other weekend, we’re kicking ourselves we weren’t there that night,’ Mr Sadecky said.

    He said the campsite would now be ‘tainted’ from what happened, a local at Blowholes himself.

    He added there was a tight-knit community in the area and that often people would leave their doors unlocked.

    Meanwhile, a close family friend of Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and stepdad Jake Gliddon said detectives are not wanting to give them any ‘false hope’.

    ‘There’s nothing worse than saying, ”We’re going to find her”, or, ”We think we’ve got the person”, and then they don’t have the person or they don’t find her,’ the friend told the West.

    Cleo is seen with her mother Ellie Smith. A $1million reward is on offer to anybody with information into her disappearance

    Cleo is seen with her mother Ellie Smith. A $1million reward is on offer to anybody with information into her disappearance

    ‘Police aren’t going to give you false hope and that’s what we said from day one.’

    The family friend had been at the campsite at the time Cleo went missing and helped scour the area in search of the four-year-old.

    He said her distraught parents have also had to deal with online trolls who pointed the finger at them in the days following their daughter’s disappearance.

    Police have ruled out both Ms Smith and Mr Gliddon as suspects and Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting they had anything to do with her disappearance.

    ‘I know it’s affecting them. Fingers crossed they aren’t looking at it too much,’ the friend said. 

    It comes after it was revealed detectives in the 100-strong taskforce had responded to 200 potential sightings of Cleo in the two weeks since she disappeared.

    It comes after it was revealed detectives in the 100-strong taskforce had responded to 200 potential sightings of Cleo in the two weeks since she disappeared.

    It comes after it was revealed detectives in the 100-strong taskforce had responded to 200 potential sightings of Cleo in the two weeks since she disappeared.  

    ‘Unfortunately all of those have proved unfruitful,’ Detective Superintendent Rob Wilde said.

    ‘That’s been national as well, other policing jurisdictions have helped us and followed those leads through for us, so we’re very grateful for that.’ 

    While none of the leads have been accurate yet, he is still calling on the public to continue searching for Cleo and reporting any potentially useful information. 








    Timeline of events the day Cleo’s family realise she’s missing 

    About 6am: Ellie Smith wakes up and realises Cleo and her sleeping bag are missing.

    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 airwing 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.

    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.

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