Mom Of Missing 4-Year-Old Says She Woke To Find Tent ‘Completely Open’ & Daughter’s Sleeping Bag Missing

Photo: Ellie Smith / Facebook / Youtube
Cleo Smith, Ellie Smith

Australian police are still searching for a 4-year-old girl who went missing from a campsite in Western Australia on Sunday.

Cleo Smith was last seen sleeping in her family’s tent at the Quobba Blowholes camping ground  at 1:30am on Saturday. 

“Grave concerns are held for Cleo's safety," a statement written by Western Australia Police Force reads. “WA Police are exploring all possibilities and have a number of investigative resources to assist including detectives from the Homicide Squad as well as Forensics and local detectives.”

What happened to Cleo Smith?

Cleo’s mother, Ellie Smith, said that when she woke on on Saturday, Oct 16 the tent door was "completely open," and her daughter was gone, along with her sleeping bag.

Cleo was wearing a pink one-piece sleepsuit with a blue and yellow pattern, and was in a red and black sleeping bag.

An extensive air and sea search is continuing, with homicide and major forensic investigators assisting local authorities.

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In an emotional interview, Ellie recalled that Cleo had gone to bed at about 8pm after dinner and before the rest of the family, including their other daughter Isla who had also settled in for the night.

“Cleo woke up at 1:30[am] and wanted a drink of water,” Ellie said. “I got her some water and she went to bed.”

Ellie remembered checking on Isla to make sure her youngest daughter was okay, before getting back into bed and going back to sleep. She woke up again in the morning to give Isla a bottle, and that’s when the mother noticed Cleo was gone.

"As we passed the divider, I went into the other room and the zipper was open. Cleo was gone and that was about it for Saturday morning until everything started,” Ellie said.

Cleo had been sleeping on a mattress in one room of the tent with Isla in a cot next to her.

Ellie and her partner Jake Gliddon were on a blow-up mattress in a room next to them.

“I turned to Jake and said ‘Cleo’s gone,’” Ellie recalled.

There is an extensive search underway for Cleo.

The family immediately went searching for the young girl, looking around to see if she was around the tent.

After not being able to locate her, they got into a car and started driving.

“We grew up here, we literally grew up 100 metres from where we stayed at the same age. So we just looked everywhere that we went as kids and we couldn't find her,” Ellie said.

That’s when Ellie realized that she had to call the police after not being able to find her anywhere in the area.

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During the entire ordeal, Ellie described that she was only thinking about Cleo’s wellbeing, and if her daughter was doing okay.

“Where is she? She needs breakfast, what is she doing? Everything's going through my head," Ellie said.

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Ellie describes her daughter as “beautiful” and “delicate,” with the biggest heart. “She’s everything you’d want in a little girl growing up,” she said.

The search for Cleo resumed on Tuesday after being temporarily suspended because of extreme weather conditions.

Authorities have asked shack owners in the area to drop off their keys to police so their properties could be searched. Police helicopters and drones have also been deployed as part of an aerial search.

Police have spoken to Cleo's father.

As part of the investigation, police did get in contact with Cleo's biological father in Mandurah, south of Perth. There is no suggestion that he is involved in her disappearance. 

"It is just normal police practice that we speak to everybody involved in the family," a police inspector said.

The family is pleading with the public to come forward with any information regarding Cleo’s disappearance, and if anyone has seen anything to immediately contact the police.

"If you see something, report it," Ellie urged. "It doesn't matter if it's small or big or if you're sure or not. We want our little girl home."

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.