Cleo Smith search: Police say there are ‘no signs’ missing girl was stalked prior to disapperance

Kristin Shorten and Ailish DelaneyThe West Australian
VideoPolice are exploring whether whoever took Cleo Smith from her tent had visited her family home beforehand, amid fears the abduction could have been pre-meditated.

Police say there is “no evidence” to suggest Cleo Smith or her family were victims of stalking prior to the four-year-old’s disappearance eight days ago.

Reports emerged on Saturday that forensic police were examining the family’s South Carnarvon home for evidence of stalking prior to Cleo’s probable abduction eight days ago.

But as police returned to Cleo’s street on Sunday to make further enquiries, Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde told The West that forensically examining a victim’s home was essential to conducting a thorough investigation.

The little girl vanished — believed to have been abducted — from a tent at the Blowholes camp site in Macleod, about 50km north of Carnarvon, in the early hours of Saturday October 16.

Police say there is “no evidence” to suggest Cleo Smith or her family were victims of stalking prior to the four-year-old’s disappearance eight days ago.
Camera IconPolice say there is “no evidence” to suggest Cleo Smith or her family were victims of stalking prior to the four-year-old’s disappearance eight days ago. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

Supt Wilde, who is leading the taskforce investigating her disappearance, said searching the family’s home was “standard practise”.

“We do that as part of a thorough investigation but that’s not indicating they’ve been stalked, nothing like it,” he said.

“In actual fact, if she has been taken, it’s more likely to have been a random event.

“There is no indication and no evidence that anyone was being stalked.

“We just want to reassure the community that we do not believe that is the case in this instance.”

Missing girl Cleo Smith, 4.
Camera IconMissing girl Cleo Smith, 4. Credit: Facebook / Ellie Smith/Facebook / Ellie Smith

Supt Wilde said investigators had simply been examining the perimeter of the house yesterday for anything of interest to “cover off all bases”.

“It was predominantly to see if there had been any trespass or anything like that, but nothing of interest has come from that,” he said.

“It’s just part of a thorough investigation and something that we will do in these cases.

“It’s to gather information and eliminate certain aspects of an investigation.”

Supt Wilde said investigators had simply been examining the perimeter of the house yesterday for anything of interest to “cover off all bases”.
Camera IconSupt Wilde said investigators had simply been examining the perimeter of the house yesterday for anything of interest to “cover off all bases”. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

A police source told The West that the forensic examination would help implicate or eliminate Cleo’s parents as suspects.

“However, the examination can also assist in lifestyle profiling the victim (victimology) which can assist investigators to profile the offender,” the source said.

“The examination can also be done to collect the victim's DNA sample if police haven't already obtained it.”

Police have repeatedly stated that while they are not ruling out any possibilities, they are not treating Cleo’s parents as suspects in this case.

On Saturday investigators examined the perimeter of the house and dusted for finger prints in the hopes of finding something that could lead to a breakthrough in the mysterious case.

Police returned to Cleo’s house on Sunday) to speak with a neighbour, but were not searching or examining the family’s home.

When schoolboy Gerard Ross was abducted during a family holiday at Rockingham in October 1997, police forensically examined his family’s home in Newman.

“I remember the house, the police had been in the house, so there were lots of dust marks from when they were doing prints and things so it was all a bit surreal,” Gerard’s sister Beth told The West in 2019.

As in Gerard’s case, West Australian authorities have offered a $1 million reward for information leading to Cleo’s location.

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 131 444.

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