Crime and Court

Progress in Cleo investigation: WA police

West Australian police say their investigation into the disappearance of four-year-old Cleo Smith is progressing and they are confident of a resolution.

Almost two weeks have passed since Cleo disappeared from her family’s tent at the remote Blowholes campsite on WA’s northwest coast.

Investigators believe she was abducted in the early hours of October 16.

Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde, who is leading the taskforce of more than 100 officers investigating Cleo’s disappearance, on Thursday flew to Carnarvon to examine the campsite and meet with Cleo’s mother and step-father.

The taskforce is yet to publicly identify any suspects but Supt Wilde said he was confident answers would soon be found.

“We’ve been back there obviously conducting some forensic work and other investigations,” he told local reporters.

“The investigation is progressing. We are hopeful, very hopeful and confident that we’re going to resolve it.”

Police have in recent days made several visits to Cleo’s family home in Carnarvon and collected samples from a campfire at the Blowholes site.

Supt Wilde said the girl’s mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon were not suspects.

“They’re co-operating. That is part of what we do in major investigations of this nature,” he said.

“Understandably, they’re upset. It’s been a difficult time for them. Fortunately they’re looked after by family and friends… Given the circumstances, they’re holding up.”

More than 100 people who were at the Blowholes on the night Cleo disappeared have been interviewed, with police confident they have accounted for the majority of those who may have been present at the vast campsite.

Authorities have also received more than 200 reports of possible sightings of Cleo.

“Unfortunately all of those obviously have proved unfruitful … it wasn’t Cleo,” Supt Wilde said.

“But again I want to thank the public for calling that information in, and that’s been national as well.”

Police are still yet to hear from the driver of a car seen leaving the campsite about two hours after Cleo was last seen in her family’s tent.

Anyone who was in that vehicle is being urged to contact police.

Carnarvon locals have had to deal with “bounty-hunters” searching for Cleo in the hope of claiming a $1 million reward being offered by the WA government.

Authorities from around the world have offered to help the investigation which is also being assisted by the Australian Federal Police.

“It’s touched everyone’s hearts,” Supt Wilde said.

“The community has been fantastic and all our law enforcement partners have been fantastic in offering resources.”

AAP- Michael Ramsey

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