Rescued Cleo Smith has seen her OWN photo on billboards around town

Cleo Smith’s biological father breaks his silence as joyous family reveal four-year-old girl has seen her OWN photo on missing posters around town and ‘thought it was beautiful’

  • Cleo’s biological father Jake Gliddon said he was ‘overjoyed’ the girl was found
  • Ellie Smith said Cleo thought the posters of her around town were ‘beautiful’
  • She posted a screenshot to her Instagram stories early on Wednesday  
  • Cleo Smith was snatched from inside a tent on a family holiday 18 days ago 
  • Police found the four-year-old inside a home in Carnarvon, WA, at 1am
  • A 36-year-old man was arrested at the house and is being questioned by police 

Cleo Smith’s biological father has broken his silence after the four-year-old was reunited with her family after disappearing from a campsite 18 days ago.

Daniel Staines, who lives about 1000km south of his daughter’s Carnarvon home in in Western Australia, said on Wednesday he is ‘overjoyed’ the little girl was found alive.  

‘We are all absolutely overjoyed at the good news this morning and so happy that Cleo has been reunited with her mum and dad,’ the Staines family said in a statement to The West Australian newspaper.

‘Thank you to everyone who helped look for her and bring her home, particularly the WA Police, SES and the Carnarvon community.’

Mr Staines and his family sent Cleo, her mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon their ‘best wishes’. 

Cleo’s biological father Daniel Staines (pictured right) and his family are ‘overjoyed’ that the youngster was found alive

Cleo Smith thought the photo of her used in ‘missing’ posters was ‘beautiful’, her mum Ellie said

The preschooler was miraculously found on Wednesday morning in a rundown house just 3km from her home in Carnarvon and 75km from where she went missing at Blowholes campsite, on Western Australia’s north coast.

In a local Facebook group, a concerned local suggested people in the small town remove ‘missing’ posters and stickers to prevent the family from suffering any more trauma.

But Cleo’s mother commented on the post to let people know it was unnecessary.

‘Cleo has seen her photo. She thought it was beautiful,’ Ellie wrote. 

It comes just hours after the mother-of-two broke her silence with a heartfelt Instagram post.

‘Our family is whole again,’ she wrote.

A close family friend also revealed the emotional message Ellie wrote to her loved ones to let them know her ‘beautiful girl is home’. 

Cleo is now back in the arms of her mum Ellie and stepfather Jake (pictured together)

Ellie Smith posted a screenshot to her Instagram stories early on Wednesday morning (pictured)

‘To be woken at 4.50am with my phone going crazy at 4.50am and see the words Cleo is home alive and safe,’ she wrote on Facebook.

‘Seeing Ellie saying her ‘beautiful girl is home’ is nothing short of a miracle. We are so happy for her to be home.’  

Other close friends and family members shared the happy news on social media.

Cleo’s grandmother Kathy Smith said: ‘Thank to all for bringing my beautiful granddaughter home.’

Another said she was ‘literally balling my eyes out. Cleo is finally home’. 

‘We have the BEST police force in the world,’ another family member wrote on Facebook. ‘Thank you all soooo much.’

‘The best news this morning, thank god,’ a fourth relative shared.

Commissioner Dawson reportedly broke down in tears upon learning the heartwarming news. He said the youngster (pictured) was good as can be expected

WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch confirmed just before 7am AEDT that Cleo was alive and well and had been reunited with her relieved parents. 

One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her ‘what’s your name?’ he said.

‘She said: “My name is Cleo”.’

Police Commissioner Chris Dawson confirmed he watched the footage of her rescue, and said the little girl was smiling and ‘as well as we could expect in the circumstances’.

‘I saw the vision, Cleo is a beautiful little four-year-old girl,’ he said. ‘She’s alive, well, smiling, so it is a wonderful, wonderful result.’

He also said Cleo’s mother and stepfather were feeling emotional, but are ‘strong people’.  

‘They have good support around them.’

‘It’s a wonderful result today but it’ll be a tough journey for them.’

Cleo has been reunited with her relieved parents, 18 days after she disappeared from her family’s tent

The home where Cleo was found is just a seven minute drive away from Cleo Smith’s parents home in Carnarvon 

Police broke into a locked house at about 1am on Wednesday in the one of the rooms of the property which is just seven minutes’ drive away from Cleo’s parents’ home. 

A 36-year-old man is currently in custody and being questioned by detectives. Commissioner Dawson told ABC radio the man has no connection to Cleo or her family.. 

The house has been cordoned off with tape and a neighbour told Nine’s Today Show: ‘S**t, she’s been that close.’

A second neighbour claimed to have seen the arrested man buying nappies from the local Woolworths supermarket.

‘The other day, like, I think it was Monday, we saw him in Woolworths buying nappies but we didn’t click on who it was or what he was buying them for,’ they told Sunrise. ‘Until now.’ 

They described the man who lived at the house as ‘quiet’ and said they wouldn’t expect him to be involved. 

Cleo’s mum Ellie Smith (pictured during her daughter’s disappearance) has been regular  public appeals for her daughter to be found

Cleo Smith (pictured) was kept prisoner in a rundown home near where her family lives

Thousands of overjoyed Australians flocked to Ellie’s Instagram to say they were ‘crying tears of joy’.

‘Cried as soon as I turned the TV on and saw this on the news. So happy she is safe and well!’ one woman wrote.

‘I think a lot of people are crying with relief for you this morning! I can’t imagine how you must be feeling. So happy for you,’ another shared.

Someone else commented: ‘Mums all over Australia are crying tears of relief for your family.’

A woman who followed the story from the UK said: ‘Have been watching from UK and I’m so happy for you all. What an amazing job the police have done. Have an amazing reunion. You never gave up hope. Enjoy being whole again.’

Deputy Commissioner Blanch said: ‘This is the outcome we all hoped and prayed for.’

‘It’s the outcome we’ve achieved because of some incredible police work.

‘I want to thank Cleo’s parents, the Western Australian community and the many volunteers.

‘And of course, I want to thank my colleagues in the Western Australia Police Force.’  

Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted from Glasgow: ‘What wonderful, relieving news.

‘Cleo Smith has been found and is home safe and sound.

‘Our prayers answered.

‘Thank you to the many police officers involved in finding Cleo and supporting her family.’

Cleo was found in her hometown of Carnarvon in Western Australia, 75km from where she went missing on October 16

Cleo Smith has been found alive and well, 18 days after she vanished from a tent

Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said it was one of the most memorable cases in his 45-year career.

‘Oh, look, to find a little girl, a vulnerable little girl after 18 days, you know, obviously people think the worst, but importantly, hope was never lost and the fact she’s been found alive,’ he said.

‘I think Australia is rejoicing, you know, it is such a wonderful outcome,’ he said. 

Police interviewed more than 110 people who were at the Blowholes campsite on the night Cleo arrived with her family on October 16.

The little girl was last seen in her family’s tent, at the vast campsite on WA’s northwest coast, at about 1.30am before his mother and stepfather realised she was missing five hours later.

Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde said the family had stayed near their tent all evening and had not socialised with other campers.

‘I think it’s more than likely an opportunistic-type event,’ he told Perth radio 6PR on Tuesday hours before Cleo was found.

‘We know they got there on the Friday night, it was getting dark, and there would have been limited opportunity for people to observe Cleo at that time.’  

Cleo Smith (pictured) has miraculously been found alive after vanishing from a remote campsite in Western Australia

Police this week collected more than 50 cubic metres of rubbish from roadside bins stretching from Minilya to Geraldton.

It was transported to Perth, where forensic officers and recruits sorted through hundreds of bags in search of items that may help them find Cleo.

The state government offered a $1 million reward for information leading to Cleo’s location. 

Detectives made several visits to Cleo’s family home in Carnarvon, sought CCTV footage from a range of businesses in the area and collected samples from a campfire at the Blowholes site.


About 6am: Ellie Smith wakes up and realises Cleo and her sleeping bag are missing.

6.23am:  Ellie calls 000 to report her eldest daughter missing as she continues to search the camp ground.

6.30am: The first two officers are dispatched from Carnarvon police station. They travel to Blowholes as a matter of priority, with sirens and lights.

6.41am: A second police car with another two officers is sent to Blowholes, also with lights and sirens.

7.10am: The first police car arrives. The second is only minutes behind. 

7.26am: Police on the scene establish a protected forensic area which is taped off to the public, surrounding the family tent where Cleo was last seen. 

7.33am: A drone operator is called upon to search from the skies.

7.44am: A third police car is dispatched to the Blowholes.

8am: Family and friends of Cleo’s parents begin to arrive to help with the ground search. 

Another group of detectives briefly searches Cleo’s home to make sure she’s not there. They then head to Blowholes and begin stopping cars coming into and leaving the area.  

8.09am: A helicopter from a local company arrived at the scene and started searching  as police request an SES team attend the Blowholes search. 

8.24am: Police airwing and volunteer marine searchers are called in to assist with the search.  

8.34am: Roadblocks are set up at the entrance of Blowholes as detectives gather the names, registration details and addresses of people coming and going. Police search cars. 

9.25am: Nine SES personel arrive at the Blowholes to assist with the search.

9.30am: Detectives sit down with a distressed Ellie and remain by her side for the rest of the day while other search crews hunt for Cleo. 

11am: Homicide detectives from the Major Crime Division are called and begin travelling from Perth to assist with the search.

1pm: More homicide detectives and search experts are flown in from Perth. 

3pm: Officers and search experts arrive in Carnarvon to offer their expertise.

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