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Cleo Smith: Police reveal why forensic officers were home for seven hours

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Police officers searched the family home of missing four-year-old girl Cleo Smith for seven hours as part of a “routine exercise” to rule out all possibilities, Western Australia’s top police officer said.

Forensic officers and detectives spent much of the day Tuesday at the family’s home in Carnarvon, 900km north of Perth, and left with two bags of evidence, although it’s unclear what was inside.

Acting WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch said the parents were not suspects in their daughter’s disappearance and that searching their home was “standard practice” in the investigation.

“We need to do a thorough investigation,” Blanch told 6PR.

“The parents have only been helpful. We’ve worked very closely with them, they’ve let us into their house, they’ve let us in their cars, their phones, everything.

‘That is a normal part of an investigation and we have to follow it closely.

Little Cleo Smith and her stepdad Jake Gliddon are pictured together

A police officer loads his car with evidence on Tuesday evening

A police officer loads his car with evidence on Tuesday evening

Acting WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch said the parents were not suspects in their daughter's disappearance

Acting WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch said the parents were not suspects in their daughter’s disappearance

“Our job is to eliminate everyone who was at that campground, and that’s a systematic and thorough approach to do that in every investigation. And that is really the focus of the research at the moment.’

Mr Blanch said that while they were “open minded” about Cleo’s disappearance, the “most likely” was that she had been kidnapped.

The four-year-old has not been seen at the Blowholes site near Carnarvon since the early hours of Saturday morning, October 16.

Her heartbroken stepfather Jake Gliddon returned to the family home on Tuesday to let in police and detectives.

Ellie Smith, the mother of the tearful four-year-old girl, told a TV interview Monday that the couple had barely been home and found it too painful to return without their daughter.

Although the detectives had been to the house before, this was the first time they had conducted a thorough search with a forensics team.

Cleo Smith's heartbroken stepfather (pictured in a green shirt and sunglasses) has returned to the family's home for the first time since his little girl disappeared from the Blowholes campsite in Western Australia 11 days ago

Cleo Smith’s heartbroken stepfather (pictured in a green shirt and sunglasses) has returned to the family’s home for the first time since his little girl disappeared from the Blowholes campsite in Western Australia 11 days ago

Detectives are now investigating footage taken from a home on the North West Coastal Highway near the Blowholes campground, which reportedly shows a sedan driving down the road at around 3am.

Detectives are now investigating footage taken from a home on the North West Coastal Highway near the Blowholes campground, which reportedly shows a sedan driving down the road at around 3am.

On the previous occasion, forensic officers combed the outside looking for traces of a stalker along the fence and windows, but ‘no evidence’ was discovered and the theory discounted.

The little girl in pink pajamas slept in a tent next to her mother Ellie, stepfather and baby sister Isla on their first camping trip together.

She was last seen by her parents at 1:30 am on Saturday when she awoke to ask for water.

But when her parents awoke at 6:30 am, little Cleo was gone, along with her red-grey sleeping bag.

Police are now investigating CCTV footage of a car seen on a highway near the Blowholes campground in the time window in which Cleo disappeared.

With an extensive search of the area with no leads, detectives believe the four-year-old may have been taken.

The footage was taken from a home on the North West Coastal Highway, which reportedly shows a sedan driving down the road at around 3 a.m.

Two people on their way to work had previously told police they saw a car turning off on Blowholes Road at about 3am the day Cleo disappeared.

Police are now working to identify the driver and license plates to determine if the car seen in the footage is the same as the one in the reports, 7 News reported.

A massive search by land, sea and air has been underway for nearly two weeks, but there are still no signs of the toddler and detectives have no solid suspects.

To flush out information, the WA government last week announced a $1 million reward for any information that could lead to Cleo’s whereabouts.

Immense scrutiny has followed Mrs Smith and her partner Mr Gliddon since their nightmare ordeal began, with hordes of online sleuths and ‘amateur detectives’ pointing the finger at them.

The devastated couple vehemently denied any involvement in Cleo’s disappearance Monday night and made a heartfelt plea to bring her home.

Ms Smith urged anyone with information about the missing toddler to call the police because ‘we want our daughter back and they want us’.

As she wiped away tears, she also had a message for Cleo’s kidnapper: “Just give her back to us,” she said on Channel Seven’s Flashpoint program.

Ms Smith said on Tuesday she was overwhelmed by the generosity of Australians donating to a Gofundme page set up by a family friend.

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