Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

Forensic police collected ash samples from fires at Blowholes campgrounds Wednesday hours after investigators searched Carnarvon’s home for missing four-year-old Cleo Smith for the third time since she disappeared 12 days ago.

Acting Police Commissioner Col Blanch said “the thorough investigation” was something police must do to exclude everyone at Blowholes when Cleo disappeared as a suspect, including her parents.

“The parents have been nothing but helpful,” Mr Blanch said. “We have worked very closely with them. They have locked us into their homes, they have locked us into their cars, their phones, everything.

The campground where Cleo Smith disappeared from was revisited by forensic police today, who took samples from the campfire site.
Camera iconThe campground where Cleo Smith disappeared from was revisited by forensic police today, who took samples from the campfire site. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The Western Australian

“Our job is to eliminate everyone who was at that camp, and that’s a systematic and thorough approach to doing so in any investigation. And that’s really the focus of the investigation at the moment.”

Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon left Carnarvon police station on Wednesday when officers wearing gloves and masks conducted another investigation inside the home before turning their attention to the perimeter of the property.

A forensic pathologist took a camera into the house and at least two evidence bags were removed. The officers left the property just before noon.

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Police have previously searched inside and outside the Illingworth Street house, where a team spent more than seven hours there Tuesday taking pictures and using torches to examine walls before leaving around 10.30pm.

Officers also returned to Blowholes Campground about 70 km north of town to collect samples from some of the campfires at the site. They stayed in the area for a few hours before leaving around 5.30pm on Wednesday.

Blanch said that even though the little girl had been missing for 12 days, it was important that everyone still hoped Cleo would get home safely. He said police would not stop until they had an answer.

Lead investigator Det-Supt Rod Wilde from the major crime department is expected to fly to Carnarvon on Thursday.

Police forensic scientists are once again visiting Cleo Smith's family home.
Camera iconPolice forensic scientists are once again visiting Cleo Smith’s family home. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The Western Australian

“There’s a massive police force in Carnarvon, up by Blowholes, that’s still working every day,” Mr Blanch said. “I think it’s important that we all have hope that we can bring Cleo home.

“The team is focused on finding Cleo, getting the evidence and doing the best we can to solve this, and that’s really our priority.”

A billboard highlighting the $ 1 million reward, showing pictures of Cleo what she was wearing when she disappeared, and her sleeping bag has also appeared more than 1,000 miles away in Bunbury.

The complex investigation focuses on CCTV footage from businesses and houses that police hope could have caught a car that was seen turning right along the North West Coastal Highway at 6 p.m. 3 a.m. Saturday, when Cleo disappeared.

Blanch urged anyone who saw the car to speak to his officers.

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