Western Australian man questioned about Cleo Smith’s alleged kidnapping has been released from hospital after being treated for self-inflicted injuries for the second time, police say, with investigators due to announce charges soon.
WA Premier Mark McGowan visited Cleo and his family in Carnarvon on Thursday. He gave the four-year-old two teddy bears named after the officers who rescued her in the early hours of Wednesday morning – 18 days after she disappeared from her family’s tent at a remote campsite on the coast Northwestern Washington State.
Police released an audio recording of when officers first entered the room in the Carnarvon house where they allegedly found her. During the exchange, officers asked her name and she replied, “My name is Cleo. “
After police found Cleo alive and well on the Carnarvon estate – minutes from his family home – they arrested a 36-year-old local man. He is being questioned by the police as the only “suspect”, but he has not been charged.
Senior investigator, Superintendent Rod Wilde, said Thursday that police believed the man had self-harmed, causing two injuries that led to him being taken to hospital. But he was then escorted back to the Carnarvon police station.
Wilde said he expected the man to be charged “later today” and “possibly this afternoon”. Wilde said, “We are going to allege… that he acted alone, alone. “
Detective Sergeant Cameron Blaine, who was one of four officers who raided the Carnarvon home on Wednesday morning, appealed to townspeople to help gather more evidence.
“Now that we have knowledge of a suspect, I am asking companies and individuals within Carnarvon to provide the investigative team with any CCTV they may have between Friday October 15 and Tuesday November 2. “
McGowan spoke of spending time with Cleo’s “very humble family”. The premier said the two teddy bears were named Rod and Cameron, given Wilde and Blaine’s roles in his rescue.
“I’m not sure that name will stick – Cleo didn’t seem too much in love with these names,” he said. he added, “We had some high fives. Unfortunately, I stepped on her new Barbie shoes and broke one. So I owe him a pair of shoes.
“It was a great experience meeting this little girl. She’s just bubbly, playful, friendly, sweet. She was eating a frozen post, she knocked it over all over the place. She told me that it was very, very sticky, which I thought, and that she was just delicious.
He said Cleo slept and ate “a lot” since she was reunited with her parents and “they had hung out a lot and cuddled”. McGowan said Cleo’s mother and stepfather were “basically decent and honest human beings.”
Wilde said specialist children’s investigators were in Carnarvon but had yet to interview Cleo. Meanwhile, Blaine said police gave Cleo’s parents advice on what to talk to their daughter about before she was officially questioned.
“It must be incredibly difficult for them… [but] we want to see a successful chase at the end of the day, ”Blaine said.
Police revealed the 36-year-old was arrested by police on the same street as the house Cleo was found in – but his arrest did not take place in front of the house.
Earlier Thursday, when asked about reports that the 36-year-old was injured after hitting his head against a wall in a holding cell, Deputy Police Commissioner Col. Blanch said: “There are no serious injuries. “
“We had to take him to the hospital again this morning, so it’s twice,” he told Sydney 2GB radio.
Blanch said it was important that before an interview, police were sure a person was sane, healthy, fed and sufficiently rested. “So we have to make all the appropriate accommodations for that person… so that we can make the right decisions in the future today. “
Cleo’s spectacular rescue came more than two weeks after her disappearance from her family’s tent at the isolated Blowholes campsite, 75 km north of Carnarvon.
She returned home with her mother, Ellie Smith, and stepfather, Jake Gliddon, and half-sister, Isla Gliddon, later Wednesday.
“Ellie and Jake have been through 18 days of hell and I know Australia felt it with them,” Blanch said Thursday. “Overnight spending time with Cleo again… I’m pretty sure they all slept in the same room cuddling all night long. “
Police have previously said the 36-year-old has no ties to Cleo’s family and was not home when she was found.
Authorities were quiet about the exact intelligence that led officers to Cleo’s location.
Blanch said police have yet to question the girl and will take their time.
“We have to be very careful with Cleo,” he said.
“We wanted to give them time as a family, it’s really important. We will talk to Cleo but we have to do it very carefully. We will try to extract information from her on those 18 days – it’s a very difficult and slow process and it’s okay if she doesn’t want to tell us.
Cleo’s rescue was well received across Australia and WA Police were praised for their “old school policing” in their search.
A photo of her smiling and waving from a hospital bed shortly after reuniting with her mother and stepfather was released by police on Wednesday.
“Our family is whole again,” Smith posted on Instagram.
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said the 140-person task force set up to investigate Cleo’s disappearance was continuing its work. “We’re going to be working on it for the next week or two at least,” he told Carnarvon on Wednesday.
The WA government had offered a $ 1 million reward for obtaining information to find Cleo, but authorities do not expect it to be claimed.