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The search for Cleo: A timeline of events

The disappearance of missing four-year-old Cleo Smith has gripped WA for five days. Here is how the desperate search unfolded:

Friday, late afternoon

Cleo and her family arrive at Blowholes campsite in Macleod, north of Carnarvon.

Saturday, 1.30am

The last sighting of Cleo in the tent she shared with her parents and baby sister. Police say her parents had an “interaction” with her before going back to sleep.

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

Saturday, 6am

Parents awake to find Cleo is missing. An extensive search conducted by parents and other campers is launched without success.

Saturday, mid-morning

Police arrive. A full-scale search is launched involving SES, aircraft, drones and sea vessels.

SES crews search the coastline and scrub near Blowholes campsite for missing four-year-old Cleo Smith.
Camera IconSES crews search the coastline and scrub near Blowholes campsite for missing four-year-old Cleo Smith. Credit: Phoebe Pin/Geraldton Guardian

Saturday night

Search suspended at last light but efforts continue, with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority search and rescue jet doing night-time patrols with heat-detecting surveillance equipment.

Sunday morning

Land search resumes with SES volunteers, volunteer search and rescue and fisheries officers scouring the coastline. Australian Army’s Pilbara Regiment is also requested to help.

The SES and Army Reserve search bushland approx 3km from the campsite.
Camera IconThe SES and Army Reserve search bushland approx 3km from the campsite. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

Sunday, 1.30pm

Inspector John Munday says police are “gravely concerned” for Cleo’s safety and reveals officers won’t rule out an abduction. He confirms detectives from Perth are involved in the investigation.

Monday morning

The marine search for Cleo is scaled back as investigators focus their attention on land and roads.

Monday, 1.30pm

Police release an image of the red and grey sleeping bag missing from Cleo’s tent.

Police have released an image of a sleeping bag which resembles the one missing girl Cleo Smith was last seen sleeping in.
Camera IconPolice have released an image of a sleeping bag which resembles the one missing girl Cleo Smith was last seen sleeping in.

Monday afternoon

Cleo’s biological father is interviewed by police in Mandurah. He is asked to provide a statement to police and does so willingly.

Tuesday morning

Heavy rainfall and wind gusts of up to 75/km at the Blowholes put the search for Cleo on hold. The search resumes a few hours later as WA Police issue a national appeal for information on the missing girl’s whereabouts.

A police road block on the way into the Blowholes campground shacks.
Camera IconA police road block on the way into the Blowholes campground shacks. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

Tuesday afternoon

Cleo’s parents gives a heartbreaking interview describing the terrifying moment they realised she had vanished from their tent — and their certainty she would not have wandered off by herself.

Cleo Smiths mother, Ellie Smith and her partner Jake Gliddon, speak about her disappearance.
Camera IconCleo Smiths mother, Ellie Smith and her partner Jake Gliddon, speak about her disappearance. Credit: James Carmody/ABC News

Wednesday morning

Police say they “haven’t ruled out” reports from campers who heard the sound of screeching tyres in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Wednesday 9.50am

Deputy police commissioner Darryl Gaunt confirms officers are inquiring about the whereabouts of the almost 20 registered sex offenders living in the Carnarvon area as part of the investigation into Cleo’s disappearance.

File source

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