ActivePaper Archive Cleo case top officer issues new time line - The West Australian , 10/30/2021

Cleo case top officer issues new time line

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Homicide detectives arrived at the camp site Cleo Smith disappeared from the same day she was reported missing, police have revealed.

After two weeks of speculation about what happened in those first crucial hours on October 16, Det-Supt Rod Wilde on Friday gave a detailed time line of what happened from the moment Cleo’s parents called triple-0 at 6.23am on that fateful Saturday.

Supt Wilde, who is leading the task force dedicated to finding the four-year-old, said the first two police officers arrived at the Blowholes, about 70km north of Carnarvon, about 50 minutes after the call.

He said the camp site and tent where Cleo disappeared from was taped off as a protected forensic area within minutes of the officers arriving about 7.10am but that a roadblock at the entry to the remote camping ground was not set up until 8.34am.

“Obviously the first police there had to establish what was taking place,” he said.

“There were two police officers and it is a large area. They did a great job establishing a protective forensic area, containing the tent and all the evidence that may be within that. Shortly after when they established that, there was a roadblock put at the entrance.”

He said the first officers began searching campers’ cars “with permission”.

Homicide detectives were contacted by local police that morning with some officers leaving Perth by road about 11am and others in a police plane that arrived in Carnarvon about 3pm.

Supt Wilde, pictured, said friends of Cleo’s parents, who were to join the family on their camping trip later that day, had arrived about 8am to help look for the missing girl with the SES joining the search just after 9am.

A mystery car seen turning off Blowholes Road on the morning Cleo vanished remains a major priority, according to Supt Wilde.

Witnesses reported seeing the car turning south off Blowholes Road, headed for Carnarvon, between 3am and 3.30am.

Cleo disappeared from her family’s tent between 1.30am and 6am that morning.

“Certainly it is a priority for us to identify who was in that vehicle; we would like that person to come forward,” Supt Wilde said.

“Hopefully the driver will come forward and make themselves known to police but obviously we are also checking CCTV and all the other means.

“We just want to speak to those people or person and establish what they were doing in the area at that time.”

He reiterated that police had no suspects at this stage.