CANBERRA, Australia (NEXSTAR) — Police say a 4-year-old girl has been rescued and is “alive and well” more than three weeks after she was suspected to have been snatched from a tent during a family camping trip on Australia’s remote west coast.
Western Australia Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch says police found Cleo Smith in a house in the coastal town of Carnavon and a man has been taken into custody in an early morning raid.
“It’s my privilege to announce that in the early hours of this morning the Western Australian Police Force rescued Cleo Smith,” Blanch said during a news conference. “A police team broke their way into a locked house in Carnavon at about 1 a.m. They found little Cleo in one of those rooms.”
“One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her ‘What’s your name?’ She said, ‘My name is Cleo’,” Blanch added.
She had disappeared with her sleeping bag from her family’s tent at the Blowholes Campground, 75 kilometers (47 miles) north of the family home in Carnavon, a town of 5,000 people, on Oct. 16.
She has reunited with her mother and stepfather soon after. Her mother posted on Instagram, “Our family is whole again” shortly after the police announcement.
“This is the outcome we all hoped and prayed for … welcome home, Cleo,” Blanch said.
On Tuesday, police said that investigators had collected more than 1,765 cubic feet of trash that forensic experts and 20 officers spent two days examining.
Police didn’t immediately reveal the identity of the suspect nor what led them to the home where Cleo was found.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.