8 unanswered questions about Cleo Smith disappearance as missing girl is miraculously found by police | #childabductors


IT’S every parent’s worst nightmare to see their child snatched by a stranger and raises the terrifying question: will they ever see them again?

Miraculously, the mum and dad of Australian Cleo Smith had all their prayers answered yesterday when their little girl was returned to them by police after a desperate 18-day search.

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Little Cleo was missing for 18 days before being found in a house 100km from the campsiteCredit: AP
Her family had been on holiday at the campsite when she was abducted in the night6

Her family had been on holiday at the campsite when she was abducted in the nightCredit: Facebook

The four-year-old was stolen from a tent at the Blowholes campsite in western Australia, as her mum Ellie and her partner Jake Gliddon slept just metres away.

After a frantic hunt which lasted more than two weeks, Cleo was found in a house in Carnarvon, a town about 100km (62 miles) south of the campsite.

While her return sparked massive relief across the world, there are still questions that need to be answered about the disappearance.

Here, we take a look at the enduring mysteries – from just who the kidnapper was to what finally tipped off police to her location.

Who abducted her and why?

The name of the 36-year-old man suspected to have been her abductor has not yet been released by police.

So far his identity remains a mystery, as does the reason behind his decision to snatch the four-year-old from her parents sometime after 1.30am on October 16.

Madeline McCann cop Jim Gamble thinks it is likely the abductor would have been following the family before making the grab.

Before her rescue, he told The Sun: “[Police] will be considering anyone who had been reportedly behaving strangely with the child and anyone who tried to engage with her.

“They will be looking at the possibility of someone who took an interest in the child which led them to follow them and potentially abduct the child.”

He also speculated that the abductor’s face may be familiar to Cleo, which would make her easier to grab. Australian police have stated the man has no connection to the family.

Police did not find any evidence at the family home of someone keeping surveillance on it.

Cops have yet to establish the motive behind the kidnapping, but were initially probing 20 sex offenders who lived in the local area.

Currently, there is no suggestion the kidnapping was sexually motivated.

Was she moved about or kept in the same house all the time?

It has not been disclosed yet if Cleo was kept in the same house after being kidnapped or if she had been moved around.

Neighbours of the arrested man have told how they were shocked to see him buying nappies as it was out of character.

Most of the 18-day search was focused in the outback before a tip-off is believed to have led cops to the house where she was found.

Initially, police feared she had been driven up to eight hours away but it is unclear if this ever happened after she was found seven minutes away from her family home.

Detectives admitted they were preparing to find a body, fearing the worst as they struggled to find her.

How did the kidnapper get in the tent without waking the rest of the family?

Cleo’s mum Ellie last saw her at 1.30am when she gave her some water.

She discovered she was missing at 6am when the couple woke up and saw their tent door open.

The tot was sleep next to her little sister in one of the tent compartments, while her mum and step-dad slept in the other.

Her sleeping bag was also missing which suggests she could have been carried out in it while she was asleep – according to Maddie cop Mr Gamble.

He also noted that it would be highly unlikely for a child not to shout out if grabbed by someone they didn’t know – something which would have alerted her parents.

The missing sleeping bag was also a clear sign that the little girl had not got up and wandered off by herself.

Why was Cleo snatched and not her sister?

The four-year-old was sleeping in a compartment with her little sister who was left behind.

Ilsa, who is seven months old and the tot’s half sibling, was not touched when Cleo was taken.

Cops have yet to find out why the man went for a four-year-old who knew who her parents were – rather than a seven-month-old who wouldn’t.

When rescued by police, Cleo was able to tell them her name which ensured she was correctly identified.

What is the suspect “known to police” for?

The 36-year-old man arrested for her abduction is understood to be known to police but they have yet to disclose why.

Cops did reveal they were looking into 20 sex offenders in the local area but MailOnline has revealed he was not a registered sex offender.

Depending on the reason he is known to law enforcement, it could raise questions as to why he was still allowed to roam free.

Neighbours say the man had just been released from prison and was “an oddball”.

What was it that tipped police off to that house?

Police were led to the house after receiving a tip about a car on Tuesday night which they confirmed with forensics and lots of phone data.

But exactly what the tip was has remained confidential.

Worryingly, neighbours of the man who owned the house where Cleo was found didn’t report his odd behaviour, which included buying nappies, to the police.

One neighbour even heard a little girl crying from his house, but said: “I heard a little girl crying but I wouldn’t expect it to be Cleo.”

She told the Western Australian: “I didn’t expect it would happen in this little neighbourhood, a lot of people know each other.”

Has her abductor struck before?

Neighbours have said the arrested man had been in prison before but it is not clear what for.

As of yet, the man appears to have no sex offence crimes and was not one of the 20 sex offenders being probed by law enforcement.

But his ability to sneak into the family tent and snatch little Cleo begs the question as to if he has done this before.

What did the kidnapper want?

After an agonising 18-day search it seemed less and less likely that the tot would be found alive.

Australian police told reporters during the search that they hadn’t found a body before Cleo’s dramatic rescue on Tuesday.

Keeping a child around in the midst of an intense public and police search would be difficult, especially if you’re not someone with children already.

It begs the question as to what purpose the kidnapper had for her.

But one thing is for sure, her parents are grateful she is alive and unharmed.

Her abductor has yet to be named and is understood to have been in prison before

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Her abductor has yet to be named and is understood to have been in prison beforeCredit: 7news/Simon Hydzik
Police conducted a huge search of the local area to find the missing child

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Police conducted a huge search of the local area to find the missing childCredit: WA Police
Cleo told an officer her name after she was found inside the house

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Cleo told an officer her name after she was found inside the houseCredit: AP
Her family had been making emotional appeals for her safe return as the search went on

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Her family had been making emotional appeals for her safe return as the search went on
Amazing moment missing Cleo Smith, 4, found safe after vanishing for 18 days in Australia



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