Police have revealed they were on the scene less than an hour after Cleo Smith’s mother woke up and found her four-year-old missing.
Little Cleo vanished from the tent she shared with her mum, stepdad and baby sister two weeks ago at the Blowholes campsite near Carnarvon, WA.
On Friday morning local time (2pm AEST), Detective Superintendent Rob Wilde revealed Ellie, Cleo’s mum, first called 000 at 6.23am – despite initial reports she searched the campground for hours before police arrived.
‘Police arrived at 7.10am and by 7.26am set up a protected site,’ he revealed.
Inspector Jon Munday initially told the public police arrived ‘about mid-morning’ at the scene, but this was proven incorrect on Friday.
By 11am, homicide detectives had been sent to the area and police were already searching cars in and out of the campsite.
Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith (pictured) urged the public to contact police if they have any information
Police were unable to check inside many of the shacks immediately because most were bolted shut with padlocks
‘Those police did a really good and thorough job,’ Mr Wilde said.
Police were unable to check inside many of the shacks immediately because most were bolted shut with padlocks.
Mr Wilde also explained away the lapse in time before detectives searched the family home in Carnarvon, citing the need for ‘priorities’ in a case as far reaching as Cleo’s.
‘Our priority was at Blowholes and in the tent,’ he said. ‘We knew from what Ellie and Jake had told us that she went missing from the campsite’, so the home was not considered a priority.
It comes after it was revealed detectives in the 100-strong taskforce had responded to 200 potential sightings of Cleo in the two weeks since she disappeared.
‘Unfortunately all of those have proved unfruitful,’ Mr Wilde said.
‘That’s been national as well, other policing jurisdictions have helped us and followed those leads through for us, so we’re very grateful for that.’
They’re still desperately trying to find Cleo’s sleeping bag.
While none of the leads have been accurate yet, he is still calling on the public to continue searching for Cleo and reporting any potentially useful information.
Pre-schooler Cleo Smith (pictured) is still missing after vanishing from a camping ground in remote Western Australia almost two weeks ago
Little Cleo Smith’s mother is holding out hope that the four-year-old will ‘come home’ to her
Police initially believed Cleo simply wandered off at the remote campsite, but are now convinced she was snatched in the dead of night by a child predator.
Investigators scoured the area, conducting sea, air and land searches, but there was no sign of the missing child and police admit they have no ‘concrete’ suspects.
Superintendent Wilde said more than 100 campers who stayed at the Blowholes site have been interviewed by police.
‘We do however believe there are still other campers that were staying in that Blowholes vicinity who we have not yet identified,’ he said.
Detectives have ‘fully reviewed past incidents’ that have been reported at the site after Daily Mail Australia revealed a mother complained in 2014 of a ‘man in his 40s trying to lure her daughter to his car’.
The girl’s distressed mother lodged a complaint with police at the time, warning the man asked her daughter to ‘go for a drive in his car’ but she refused and ran back to her family.
In the attempted abduction from 2014, the little girl wasn’t able to provide a thorough description of the man’s appearance, and it appears nothing ever came of the police report.
But she shared the post publicly hoping to warn other parents who might bring their children to the area, adding it would be a ‘good time to remind our precious ones of stranger danger’.
Mr Wilde said all previous complaints had been investigated and that nothing of a similar nature had been reported recently.
Police are also still scrambling to find a car witnesses say was travelling in the vicinity at the same time where Cleo disappeared.
The vehicle was turning south off Blowholes Road, near the area Cleo’s family was camping, and headed for Carnarvon.
The timing of the car sighting coincides with evidence from other campers that they heard the sound of screeching tyres rapidly leaving the campsite about 3am.
The witnesses were travelling north on the North West Coastal Highway on their way to work when they spotted the mysterious car leaving the camping ground.
They were unable to give a description of the car or how many people were inside as it was too dark.
Pictured: A map showing the possible roads Cleo Smith travelled in the time between when she went missing and police arrived
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday revealed the Australian Federal Police are using sophisticated technologies to help track Cleo down.
Without getting into specifics, he said there are options available to the officers globally that could bring Cleo home.
According to Australian National University astrophysicist Brad Tucker, Mr Morrison could be referring to satellite data that might’ve captured key moments from the campground on the night Cleo disappeared.
‘The high resolution ones, you’re a bit more limited, so they’re not going to be overhead at every single point – every half a day, sure, but not every hour or minute,’ he told WAToday.
‘If they think there was something during the day at the campsite that was present on the day Cleo went missing, such as a car, they may be trying to use satellite imagery to track down a timeline.
‘There is a strong chance they may have gotten something, it may not have been the highest resolution, but it could have been something.’