Cleo Smith’s devastated mother burst into tears as she pleaded for the safe return of her missing four-year old daughter during an emotional TV interview.
Wiping away tears, Ellie Smith shared a message for Cleo when she spoke to Channel Seven’s Flashpoint program on Monday.
‘I love you,’ the distraught mother said with Cleo’s stepfather Jake Gliddon by her side. ‘We miss you and we want you home.’
She also had a message for Cleo’s abductor: ‘Just give her back to us.’
Cleo Smith’s devastated mother Ellie burst into tears as she pleaded for the safe return of her missing four-year old daughter during an emotional TV interview
The little girl in pink pajamas was sleeping in a tent alongside her mother, stepfather and baby sister Isla in their first camping trip together.
But when her parents awoke at Blowholes campsite near Carnarvon, on the northwest coast of Western Australia, on October 16, she was gone.
Police initially believed Cleo had simply wandered off at the remote campsite, but investigators are now convinced she was snatched in the dead of night by a brazen child predator.
With land, sea and air searches of the area coming up empty, the heartbroken parents, dressed in black, are now desperately calling on the public’s help to find their smiling blonde-haired girl.
‘Every day is harder, but we’re hoping by being here (doing the interview), it will help to find her,’ Ms Smith said.
‘Whoever’s watching, if the person who’s watching this has Cleo, we want her home. We want her to be home with our baby. We want her back in our arms.’
Cleo Smith in her pink pajamas was sleeping in a tent alongside her mother, stepfather and baby sister Isla in their first camping trip together. In the morning she was gone
Stepfather Jake Gliddon and Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith begged whoever had Cleo, or knew where she was, to bring her home
The parents said the past 10 days have felt like an eternity but they are trying to ‘stay positive’ for the sake of their other child.
The couple still can’t believe how someone could have snuck into their tent and taken their little girl, saying it makes then ‘feel sick’.
‘I put her to bed. I tucked her in. I made sure her sleeping bag was completely tucked under her mattress,’ Ms Smith said.
‘I made sure she was warm. It was quite a windy night. It was overcast, we just tried to make sure she was safe.
Ms Smith said about 1.30am, she asked Cleo to ‘get back into bed’ after she had a sip of water.
‘I put my head through to check on Isla and that was it,’ she said.
‘That was the last time.’
Ms Smith said she still struggled to comprehend how someone could snatch her daughter as she lay next to her family inches away.
‘When the police were asking us to go through everything, I just remember thinking, ‘how did someone come into that tent and take Cleo?’
‘I just felt sick. My gut just felt sick.
‘She was taken, she’s gone. She’s been taken from our family, from somewhere she’s meant to feel safe and she’s been taken.’
Police are still unsure whether the little girl (pictured, left) was taken by a lone offender or one with an accomplice, as extra detectives travel from Perth to join search efforts
Ten days have passed since little disappeared from the remote Blowholes campsite in WA (pictured)
The couple were asked about the online rumours circulating from ‘amateur detectives’ who claim they had something to do with their child’s disappearance.
They both vehemently denied having any involvement in Cleo’s abduction.
‘No, nothing,’ Mr Gliddon said when asked if there was something he was holding back from police.
‘No way — we love our daughter and want her home,’ Ms Smith said, when she was asked the same question.
‘I can’t imagine what it feels like for someone, if they’ve got kids, they know what it feels like to be a parent, and there is no way that either myself or Jake could’ve done anything to hurt our daughter,’ she added.
Friends and family of Cleo Smith also slammed heartless trolls for spreading damaging theories about the preschooler’s mysterious disappearance in a series of ‘distasteful’ social media groups.
Online sleuths and true crime enthusiasts have been spreading wild theories about who could be involved.
Sammie Wilson, an administrator in the Bring Cleo Smith Home group – which includes Cleo’s parents and close relatives – warned followers against believing anything posted in the conspiracy groups.
Cleo’s mother Ellie (left) and her partner Jake Gliddon (left) have remained close to the campsite throughout the extensive sea, land and air search for little Cleo
Police have dismissed fears missing toddler Cleo Smith (pictured) was stalked at home before she disappeared from a West Australian campsite 50km away
‘We hate that they are allowed to exist especially when their intent is obviously not about what it should be,’ she wrote.
‘We do not have control over them.’
Some sleuths speculated word of the couple’s trip and where they were going may have filtered down to the abductor.
But someone chimed in and asked: ‘Anyone else reading this crap thinking this is some of the dumbest banter they have ever seen?’
Some groups posted polls where followers vote on their favourite theory as to how youngster went missing, while others continue to reiterate old information distributed by police but now out of date.
Others have comment thread specifically for posts by psychics and mediums.
Social media users in the Bring Cleo Home group responded to Ms Wilson’s post and detailed their experiences on the conspiracy pages.
‘I left one yesterday that was a find Cleo discussion group. It was just full of misinformation and trolls and people doing absolutely nothing to assist,’ one woman wrote.
Cleo’s mother described her as the ‘best big sister ever’ to her other daughter Isla Mae (right)
Cleo’s devastated mother Ellie Smith continues to post fresh appeals for information on her Instagram (pictured) as detectives continue to scour the campground for clues
‘When I shared a link on there telling people to please join here and help actually take active steps like distribution of posters or finding printers in their states etc I was basically slammed and told I had bad motives.’
Someone else said she was blocked by that group for trying to share useful information.
‘Unfortunately all missing children have these nasty humans making nasty groups to spread their disgusting theories and treat it all like a daily soap program,’ another wrote.
‘They don’t have the intelligence to think before they spew forth their venom.
Pay no attention, don’t bother trying to defend as they are waiting to fight and bully others as entertainment too.’
Police believe Cleo was taken from her family tent at the Blowholes Campsite on WA’s northwest coast during the early hours of Saturday, October 16 (pictured, search teams)
It comes after new witnesses told police they saw a car and heard screeching tyres at the Blowholes Campsite, 50km north of Canarvon, where Cleo vanished (pictured)
Ms Wilson told Daily Mail Australia the false information was detracting from the efforts to find Cleo.
‘Unfortunately, these groups are not violating Facebook’s terms and conditions but I did make it clear to members there is a Facebook process to report them should they come across distasteful things,’ she said.
On Monday, Cleo’s stepfather Mr Gliddon broke his silence by sharing an image of the ‘missing’ poster to his Instagram.
Ms Smith continues to post fresh appeals for information to her Instagram page, most recently sharing a sweet photo of her two daughters.
On Sunday night, police released an eerie recording of Cleo’s voice from a CCTV camera installed inside a beach shack just 20 metres from the family’s tent.
WA Police confirmed the voice of the missing four-year-old can be heard on the motion-sensitive camera, which also takes a wide-angle photo of anyone who enters or leaves the shack.
The audio was recorded by a CCTV camera installed inside a beach shack just 20 metres from the family tent Cleo mysteriously disappeared from last Saturday.
Premier Mark McGowan on Thursday announced a $1million reward would be offered to anyone with information which leads to Cleo coming home or the arrest and conviction of those responsible for taking her (pictured, Cleo’s missing child poster)
new witnesses told police they saw a car and heard screeching tyres at the Blowholes Campsite, 50km north of Canarvon, where Cleo (left) vanished
WA Police have confirmed the voice of the missing four-year-old can be heard on the motion-sensitive camera, which also takes a wide-angle photo of anyone who enters or leaves the shack.
Officers have scrutinised copies of the CCTV footage and said on Sunday the new evidence helped place Cleo at the campground on the day before she went missing.
The development is also significant because it rules out any suspicions the child was never brought to the camping ground by her parents.
‘It was just after they arrived, it’s motion-sensitive so it was by [their vehicle],’ Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde said.
‘It’s very limited… we’ve reviewed that and we believe it’s Cleo’s voice that’s heard on the CCTV.’
Her devastated mother Ellie Smith continues to post fresh appeals for information to her Instagram page, most recently sharing a sweet photo of her two daughters.
Missing girl Cleo Smith’s voice was recorded on this CCTV camera the day before she vanished from her family tent at the Blowholes Campground
While police are still exploring ‘all avenues’ with the belief the little girl could be ‘anywhere’ by now, a top cop said it’s more likely Cleo (pictured) is still on home soil
Four-year-old Cleo is seen giving her baby sister Isla Mae a kiss on the forehead in the photo with the caption: ‘We all need her home’.
She posted another heartbreaking photo of Cleo enjoying a day at the beach and questioned: ‘Where are you baby’ followed by another shot of her two daughters describing the little girl as the ‘best big sister ever’.
It comes after new witnesses told police they saw a car and heard screeching tyres at the Blowholes Campsite, 50km north of Canarvon, where Cleo vanished.
Superintendent Wilde said the car was seen about 3am on October 16 when Cleo went missing.
The car was turning south off Blowholes Road, near the area Cleo’s family was camping, and headed for Carnarvon.
The timing of the car sighting coincides with evidence from other campers that they heard the the sound of screeching tyres rapidly leaving the campsite about 3am.
Superintendent Wilde said the evidence was ‘credible’ and the witnesses only came forward after learning of the possible abduction of the child, having not thought their sighting of the car was significant at the time.
Drone vision shows the Blowholes Campsite near Carnarvon were Cleo vanished
‘Obviously at that time when the people observed it, it wasn’t anything of great significance. They just came forward after hearing about Cleo and the news and realised the significance he said.
‘Fortunately, they’ve come forward and passed that on to us so we are keen to speak to the person who was driving and anyone who was in that vehicle to speak to us.’
The new witnesses were travelling north on the North West Coastal Highway on their way to work when they spotted the mysterious vehicle leaving the camping ground.
Unfortunately, they were unable to give a description of the car or how many people were inside as it was too dark.
‘We want the person or persons who were in that vehicle to come forward and contact police,’ Superintendent Wilde said.
‘We want to know who they were and what they were doing.
‘The time is not exact but we believe it to have been between 3am and 3.30am. We believe it was a passenger vehicle, not a truck.’
It was originally thought Cleo (pictured) had simply wandered off towards the ocean or the rugged scrublands nearby, however detectives are now convinced Cleo was abducted by a brazen child predator
Supt Wilde has stressed the driver is not considered a suspect.
Police are still unsure whether the little girl was taken by a lone offender or one with an accomplice, as extra detectives travel from Perth to join search efforts.
Superintendent Wilde said the family didn’t see anything suspicious when they arrived at the campsite and said there was no evidence Cleo had been inside the beach shacks a short distance from the campground.
Detectives have confirmed known sex offenders were in the area at the time Cleo vanished but there are currently no suspects.
Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
All you need to know about Cleo’s disappearance
Friday 6.30pm: Cleo and her family arrive at the campsite as the sun begins to set. They quickly set up their tent and get settled in, feeding both of the girls.
Friday 8pm: Cleo went to bed while her younger sister and parents stayed up for a little while longer.
Saturday 1.30am: Cleo woke up asking for a drink of water. Ellie tended to her and checked on Isla, who was in a crib right next to Cleo’s mattress in one room in the tent.
Saturday 6am: Ellie woke up to Isla wanting a bottle. She passed the divider that separated the two rooms in the tent and immediately noticed the zipper was almost entirely open. Cleo was gone.
Saturday ‘mid-morning’: Police and emergency services arrive to assist with the search, starting with local Carnarvon officers.
Sunday: Cleo’s mum issues a desperate plea on Facebook to find her daughter.
Sunday/Monday: Homicide detectives, bush trackers and more volunteers are brought in to assist with the search.
Monday: Police confirm Cleo’s grey and red sleeping bag also disappeared. They are yet to comment on whether there were marks that indicate it was dragged from the tent.
Police reveal they are not ruling out any possibilities relating to Cleo’s disappearance.
Tuesday morning: Search is suspended due to wild weather.
Daily Mail Australia confirms the ‘interaction’ Cleo had with her mother was ‘not sinister’ and simply the four-year-old asking for a sip of water.
Tuesday midday: Search continues again as storm passes.
Tuesday 1.30pm: Cleo’s mum and stepdad, Jake, speak to the media for the first time since she disappeared, revealing key pieces of evidence, including:
– The tent they were staying in was left almost entirely open. Cleo and Isla were in the room nearest to the entrance, which was unzipped when Ellie woke up at 6am. Isla remained in her crib unharmed, but Cleo was gone
– Cleo is ‘not the sort of child to wander off’ and would have woken her parents if she needed anything, like when she woke hours earlier to ask for a sip of water
Wednesday: Police confirm reports a car was heard ‘screeching off’ from the campsite at about 3am.
Assistant Commissioner Darryl Gaunt revealed there are ‘between 10 and 20’ known sex offenders in the Carnarvon area, but none are suspects into Cleo’s disappearance following inquiries.
‘We don’t have any concerns about that,’ he said on 6PR Mornings.
‘I know part of the investigative strategies have included reaching and making inquiries into their whereabouts and movements, and this point in time we’re very comfortable where we sit with those inquiries.’
Investigators confirm Cleo would be too short to open the tent zip by herself, stoking fears she was abducted
Thursday 12.30pm local time (3.30pm AEST): WA Premier Mark McGowan offers $1million reward for any information which leads to Cleo coming home or the arrest and conviction of those responsible for taking her
Sunday: West Australian Police say they have a new lead in the hunt for Cleo Smith after witnesses came forward with what could be a vital sighting of a car in the area near the time screeching tyres were heard at the scene.
Police confirm audio of Cleo’s voice has been captured on a CCTV camera installed inside a beach shack just 20 metres from where the little girl was staying on the day before she disappeared.