Rescued 4-Year-Old Doing Well, With New Charges in Case

Terence Kelly, 36, hit with charges in case of Cleo Smith, who went missing for 18 days in Australia
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2021 7:12 PM CDT
Updated Nov 4, 2021 6:43 AM CDT
Missing 4-Year-Old Found Alive After 18 Days
Ellie Smith, left, and her partner Jake Gliddon, display a photo of their missing daughter, Cleo, near Carnarvon in Western Australia state, Australia, Oct. 19, 2021.   (James Carmody/AAP Image/Pool via AP)

(Newser) Update: A 36-year-old man has been charged in the case of a 4-year-old Australian girl found safe Wednesday after vanishing 18 days earlier. Terence Darrell Kelly appeared Thursday in a Carnavon court, where he was charged with forcibly or fraudulently taking or enticing a child under 16, per the BBC. Before his hearing, police say Kelly had been taken to the hospital with self-inflicted injuries that were not said to be life-threatening. He'll be kept in custody until Dec. 6, when he's due to appear again in court. Meanwhile, authorities say that Cleo is doing well, considering what she's been through. "She has done a bit of sleeping and a lot of eating, a lot of lying around and cuddling," Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said Thursday after meeting with the little girl and her family, reports CNN. Our original story from Tuesday follows:

"Our family is whole again," mother Ellie Smith said after she was reunited with daughter Cleo—18 days after the girl vanished from a campsite in a remote part of Western Australia. WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanc said officers found Cleo in a room when they broke into a locked house in the town of Carnarvon early Wednesday, the BBC reports. "One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her 'what’s your name?'" Blanch said. "She said, 'My name is Cleo.' Cleo was reunited with her parents a short time later." Police say a 36-year-old man has been taken into custody.

"This is the outcome we all hoped and prayed for," Blanch said, per the West Australian. "It’s the outcome we’ve achieved because of some incredible police work." Carnarvon is around a seven-minute drive from the Quobba Blowholes coastal campsite, where Cleo disappeared from her family's tent in the early hours of Oct. 16. A neighbor tells the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the man who lived in the house where Cleo was found was "quiet" and he had recently noticed him buying diapers in the local supermarket. Police say the man in custody has no connection to Cleo's family. WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson told reporters that forensic leads led them to the house.

Cleo was "smiling" and "as well as we could expect in the circumstances," said Dawson. He said he is proud of his team, Cleo's parents, and the many volunteers who assisted the massive search effort. "This strikes at the heart of every parent, of every Australian, to have a young child abducted from an iconic location, camping with the family, it touches everyone," Dawson said. "To find a vulnerable little girl after 18 days ... obviously people think the worst, but hope was never lost. Australia's rejoicing." (Read more Australia stories.)

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