Australian police hunt for missing four-year-old Cleo Smith

Hunt for the Australian ‘Maddie McCann’: Desperate search for four-year-old girl who vanished three days ago from campsite after her mother woke to find her missing from tent

  • Cleo Smith, four, went missing from campsite in west Australia early Saturday 
  • Mother Ellie said she last saw her daughter around 1.30am in their shared tent, but when she woke up again at 6am the girl had vanished
  • Police have ‘grave concerns’ for her safety and have not ruled out an abduction
  • Helicopters, drones and marine search teams have not turned up any sign of her 

Police are hunting for a four-year-old girl who has been missing for three days after vanishing from a campsite in rural Australia. 

Cleo Smith was last seen by mother Ellie on Saturday in a tent they were sharing at the Blow Holes campsite on the coast of Western Australia. 

Ellie said she last had an ‘interaction’ with Cleo around 1.30am, but when she woke up again at 6am the girl was gone – and has not been seen since.  

Police say they have ‘grave concerns’ for the little girl’s safety, and are not ruling out the possibility that she was snatched from the tent.

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 

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 

Officers said she was last seen wearing a wearing a pink/purple one-piece sleep-suit with a blue and yellow pattern.

Police say Cleo is 3ft, 7ins tall and has honey-blonde coloured hair and hazel eyes. 

At the times she was last seen, Cleo was in a red and black sleeping bag which is also thought to have gone missing.

Inspector Jon Munday, who is leading search efforts, said Monday that ‘everything is still on the table’ including the possibility that Cleo was taken.

He said officers have interviewed other people camping in the area to ‘paint a picture of who was around here during the window of opportunity.’

Having spent several days searching the surrounding terrain using helicopters, drones and marine search teams, Munday said the search has now expanded to a number of coastal shacks.

Vehicles in the area are also being searched, including at least one caravan seen driving away from the campsite.

‘We’ve gathered a lot of information and a lot of intelligence from things like dashcams, CCTV cameras around the place [and] at roadhouses,’ Munday said.

Police are also considering the possibility that Cleo wandered off in the night and got lost, he said, adding: ‘We’re going as hard as we can for as long as we can to try to find Cleo.’

On Monday it was also revealed that Daniel Staines, Cleo’s biological father, has been called in for questioning – though there is no suggestion he was anything to do with the disappearance.  

Police have released an image of Cleo’s sleeping bag and are urging members of the public to come forward if they have seen it

Detectives have not ruled out anything in relation to her disappearance – and are exploring theories she may have been abducted

Staines spoke to police for three hours after being voluntarily called in to give a statement, Sky News reported.  

He did so willingly with his parents by his side, the station added.   

‘We are really interested in anybody who was at The Blowholes campsite from Friday the 15th of October through to Sunday,’ Inspector John Munday who is leading the police search told reporters on Monday.

‘You don’t even have to have stayed here, even if you just passed through. We need to speak to you… so we can track and trace where people were.

‘And if anybody has any dashcam footage or any footage at all of the area we really would be interested in those people coming forward.’       

Authorities have also released aerial footage of the campsite as they combed through the remote bushland in search of the missing girl amid growing fears the child may have been snatched. 

The camp ground is located 75km from Carnarvon and 875km from Perth with nothing but bushland and scrubs in between.

The recreation site is bordered by the ocean on one side and desolate, rugged terrain on the other. 

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)

One of the theories was that young Cleo may have wandered off towards the water and was washed away by the rising tide.

But exhaustive marine searches have so far found no evidence she entered the water.

‘The searches we have done for this marine environment are the best we can get and they have done the best they can and in that environment we haven’t found any sign of Cleo,’ Inspector Munday said.

‘And that marine search has been scaled back at this time.’

Police are continuing to probe the possibility that Cleo was abducted, with officers stopping cars and caravans to search the vehicles over the weekend and seizing CCTV footage from nearby roadhouses as part of the investigation.

Detectives from the homicide squad have also been called into to scour the scene.  

Locals have been told to check garbage bins and roadsides for the grey and red sleeping bag used by Cleo at the time she went missing.

Marine searches for Cleo (pictured) have been scaled back after three days 

The young girl was last seen wearing pink one-piece pyjamas with a blue and yellow pattern when she was last seen. 

A full scale search took place on Saturday and began again from first light on Sunday and will continue for the next 48 hours at least.

The crews consisted of land, air and sea teams searching the coastline in and around campgrounds nearby where the family was staying.

Posters have also been put up at roadhouses within a 1,000km radius of the campsite and police are poring over dash camera footage and CCTV footage from the area. 

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