Police have dismissed fears missing toddler Cleo Smith was stalked at home before she disappeared from a campsite 50km away.
Forensic experts dusted her home in South Canarvon, in Western Australia, for fingerprints on Saturday as part of the hunt for the missing four year old who vanished from her parents’ tent.
Detectives returned to the street on Sunday to interview one of the family’s neighbours as they probed all possible connections to the disappearance.
But detectives insisted the exercise was just routine in their investigation into the presumed abduction and was not related to any allegations of stalking.
‘We do that as part of a thorough investigation but that’s not indicating they’ve been stalked, nothing like it,’ Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde told The West Australian.
‘In actual fact, if she has been taken, it’s more likely to have been a random event. There is no indication and no evidence that anyone was being stalked.
Police have dismissed fears missing toddler Cleo Smith (pictured) was stalked at home before she disappeared from a West Australian campsite 50km away
Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde (pictured) insisted the forensic investigation at Cleo’s home was just a routine part of their investigation into the feared abduction
‘We just want to reassure the community that we do not believe that is the case in this instance.
‘It was predominantly to see if there had been any trespass or anything like that, but nothing of interest has come from that.
‘It’s just part of a thorough investigation and something that we will do in these cases. It’s to gather information and eliminate certain aspects of an investigation.’
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.
Drone vision shows the Blowholes Campsite near Carnarvon were Cleo vanished
Detectives acknowledge little Cleo could be ‘anywhere’ by now but they believe it’s more likely she’s still somewhere in WA. (PIctured, the search parties looking for Cleo)
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.
‘Obviously at that time when the people observed it, it wasn’t anything of great significance,’ he said.
‘They just came forward after hearing about Cleo and the news and realised the significance.
‘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.
The four-year-old Carnarvon local has been missing since Saturday October 16
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.’
Another major piece of evidence police received is Cleo’s voice being heard on CCTV footage near the beach shacks a day before she disappeared.
The development is 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],’ Superintendent Wilde said.
‘It’s very limited… we’ve reviewed that and we believe it’s Cleo’s voice that’s heard on the CCTV.’
The top cop investigating the mysterious disappearance of missing girl Cleo Smith (pictured) has said he believes the little girl is still somewhere in her home state
Although detectives acknowledge young Cleo could be ‘anywhere’ by now, they believe it’s more likely she’s still somewhere in WA.
‘It’s always possible but it’s more likely that if someone has taken Cleo that they would still be within WA,’ Supt Wilde told the West Australian.
‘If they had crossed the border, it would imply that someone from the Eastern States had committed the offence, when it’s more likely that — if that is what’s happened – the offender would be from here.’
It was originally thought the little girl had simply wandered off towards the ocean or the rugged scrublands nearby, but detectives are now convinced Cleo was abducted by a brazen child predator.
The leading theory is that she was snatched while sleeping beside her mother Ellie Smith and step father Jake Gliddon in a tent at the remote camping site.
Her parents woke up to find her missing along with her missing along with her adult-sized red and grey sleeping bag, suggesting she may have been carried out and loading into a vehicle in the dead of night.
Ellie Smith and her partner, Jake Gliddon (pictured) fronted the media for the first time on Tuesday after four-year-old Cleo (middle) went missing near the Blowholes campsite north of Carnarvon in Western Australia
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
WA police say they are continuing to liaise with federal agencies and other jurisdictions across the country to ensure the little girl doesn’t slip through the cracks.
‘Photos, posters and descriptions of Cleo have been publicised nationwide, but there are no leads or credible sightings to indicate she has been taken interstate,’ Supt Wilde said.
The detective said that if Cleo had been abducted the person behind the act would be ‘bold and brazen’ to take her while she lay beside her sleeping family.
He said it would have been ‘opportunistic’ for the abductor to take Cleo from the tent just hours after her family had arrived at the campsite.
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
Cleo (pictured with her mother Ellie Smith) vanished from a tent at a camping site near Carnarvon on the northwest coast of Western Australia on October 16
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.
He urged anyone that has information on the four-year-old’s baffling disappearance to come forward and claim the $1 million reward.
‘If not just for the fact that this is a small child missing, then for the monetary reward available,’ he said.
It comes after police were spotted at the family home on Saturday, stating they are exploring ‘all possible avenues’ as part of their ongoing investigation.
She was sharing the tent with her mother, stepdad and baby sister Isla, (pictured) who was still in her cot when she disappeared
Supt Wilde has urged anyone that has information on the four-year-old’s baffling disappearance to come forward and claim the $1million reward
One theory is that whoever took Cleo from the tent may have visited the home beforehand, meaning the abduction was premeditated.
A green spray used to detect fingerprints was spotted on the fence line but police haven’t entered the house.
At the same time Cleo’s mother shared on her Instagram page: ‘Please come home to me. Any information big or small. Find my little girl.’
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.
Cleo Smith woke up in the middle of the night and asked her parents for a sip of water hours before she disappeared
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.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk