A little girl who was kidnapped from her family’s tent is back home after being held captive for 18 days.
Cleo Smith was found locked in a home after a more than two-week search.
She was taken from the family’s remote campsite at Quobba Blowholes on Oct. 16. Police said she had been in a sleeping bag feet from her mother, stepfather and baby sister, according to CNN.
Her mother, Ellie Smith, said that her daughter wanted a drink at 1:30 a.m. and then went back to sleep. When Smith awoke at 6 a.m., her daughter was gone.
Police figured she had been taken when they found her sleeping bag also missing and where her family said they left the tent’s zipper.
Police knocked down the door of the residence in Carnarvon, Australia. The little girl was alone in one of the rooms.
The moment she was seen was caught on body camera with the officer asking the child, “What’s your name?” and her answering, ”My name is Cleo.”
“I have seen seasoned detectives openly crying with relief. I am speechless, which is very rare ... this is something we all hoped in our hearts, and it has come true,” Deputy Police Commissioner Col Blanch told 6PR radio, CNN reported.
“She is physically OK. That was evident from the start,” Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine, told Reuters. “Taking her to the hospital we got assurance of that from people that know what they’re doing.”
Blaine was one of four officers who found Cleo. He called her rescue the best moment of his career.
Police did not say what she had gone through but said she is “as well as you can expect,” The Associated Press reported.
“This has been an ordeal. I won’t go into any more details, other than to say we’re so thankful she’s alive,” Western Australia state Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said.
The Australian government offered a reward of A$1 million, or about US$750,000, for information leading to Cleo’s return, CNN reported.
Police uncovered evidence that indicated where Cleo was, not far from the family’s home.
The man who is accused of taking Cleo has no connection to the family, police said. He was not at the house at the time of Cleo’s rescue.
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