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Suspect In Cleo Smith Kidnapping Hospitalized After Alleged Beating By Fellow Inmate In Police Holding Cell

Photo: WA Police
Cleo Smith

Cleo Smith, the 4-year-old girl who went missing from Western Australia during the middle of the night while camping with her family was found alive after an 18-day search.

Cleo was found in a locked and empty house in Carnarvon, the same town where her and her family lived. 

Authorities arrested the man suspected of abducting Cleo, Terry Kelly, who was described as “quiet” and “lonely.” 

“One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her ‘What’s your name?’” Col Blanch, Western Australia's deputy police commissioner, said in a statement. “She said, ‘My name is Cleo.’ This is the outcome we all hoped and prayed for.”

However, hours after his arrest, Kelly was admitted to hospital after reportedly being beaten in a jail cell though it is believed some of the injuries included self-inflicted wounds.

Who is Terry Kelly, the man who allegedly kidnapped Cleo Smith? 

The 36-year-old man lives several minutes away from Cleo’s family home.

Kelly had only become a suspect in Cleo's disappearance on Tuesday and was known to police.

Neighbors of the man said he’d been “acting weird” and “strange” lately, and had been seen purchasing diapers despite not having a child. 

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

Police have reportedly seized several items from his home including a rug. 

Cleo's alleged kidnapper was in hospital.

A woman claiming to be the mother of an inmate says her son assaulted Kelly in a holding cell, resulting in his hospitalisation.

"As soon as he heard this bloke was arrested over that little Cleo, he blew up, beat him black and blue," she alleged.

Western Australia police did not comment on the woman's claims but did say the suspect's injuries are "not life threatening."

It has also been reported that Kelly was self-harming while in police custody. He has been returned to a police station in Carnarvon and is cooperating with the investigation.

He is expected to be charged on Thursday afternoon.

Terry Kelly, who allegedly abducted Cleo, is not linked to her family.

There seems to be no connection between Kelly and Cleo’s family, and questions still remain on whether the man will be charged with Cleo’s abduction.

Police have said that her kidnapping appeared to be opportunistic and that the detained man was not a registered sex offender.

In bodycam footage of the rescue, officers can be seen carrying Cleo into the garden before a detective asks if she’s okay.

Cleo smiles and nods at the detective, to which he tells her: “We’re going to take you to see your mummy and daddy, ok?”

Western Australia police deputy commissioner Col Blanch described seeing seasoned detectives “openly crying with relief.”

“When she said: ‘My name is Cleo,’ I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. To see Cleo rescued this morning, I’m speechless.”

Cleo's family celebrated her being found.

Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith spoke for the first time after her daughter was miraculously found alive, sharing a photo on Instagram with the words: “Our family is whole again.”

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Cleo was missing for 18 days.

Cleo Smith had gone camping on October 16 with her mother, Ellie Smith, her stepfather, Jake Gliddon, and her younger sister.

She was last seen around 1:30 a.m. the next day after her mother had woken up to Cleo asking for a glass of water.

It was when her mother had woken up later in the morning that she noticed Cleo, along with her sleeping bag, was missing. 

The tent’s zipper had been undone, and was too high for Cleo to have reached it.

It was when the Western Australian government announced the reward for Cleo, that hundreds of calls started pouring in about sightings spotted across the country.

Though police said it was unlikely that the reward would be claimed because it was a combination of factors and not a single lead, that led to Cleo’s rescue.

Authorities had interviewed over 100 people that were around the campsite the night Cleo disappeared, as well as examining past predatory behavior in the area. 

It wasn’t until 1 a.m. on Wednesday that the police team finally located Cleo.

“They’ve been looking for that needle in the haystack,” Deputy Commissioner Blanch said in an interview with a local TV station. “Late last night they found that needle that led them to that address and rescued Cleo.”

In Australia, approximately 25,000 young people are reported missing each year. 

With the rarity of missing children being found alive after so long when abducted by someone who is not a relative, it’s an absolute miracle that Cleo was found safe and alive.

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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.