The parents of Cleo Smith have rejected suggestions they had anything to do with the four-year-old girl’s disappearance during an emotional interview in which they pleaded for their daughter’s safe return home.
Asked about speculation from “amateur detectives” who had accused them, Ellie Smith and Jake Gliddon denied having any involvement in Cleo’s disappearance.
“No way – we love our daughter and want her home,” Ms Smith told Seven’s Flashpoint program.
“I can’t imagine what that feels like for someone … if they’ve got kids, they know what it feels like to be a parent and there is no way that either myself or Jake could’ve done anything to hurt our daughter.
“She’s been taken from our family, from somewhere she’s meant to feel safe.”
Ms Smith described the alleged abduction as “absolutely disgusting”.
Asked if there was something he had not told police, Mr Gliddon said: “No, nothing.”
Cleo vanished from the Blowholes Campground, near Carnarvon in Western Australia’s north, on October 16.
Ms Smith said it had already felt like an eternity, adding that she just wanted her little girl in her arms again.
The devastated couple did not leave the campsite until last Friday when they realised Cleo was not there.
“We’d held hope but the hope of her being there was slowly slipping away,” Ms Smith said.
Forensic officers have recently been scouring Cleo’s family home for clues.
“I guess we just hold hope that there’s something there that they can find that will help,” Ms Smith said.
“I mean if it’s someone that’s has been watching for who knows how long, hopefully they pick something up that will help.”
Ms Smith said the family had “not really” been home and struggled to think about returning without Cleo.
Taking a deep breath, Ms Smith also recalled her final moments with Cleo before she vanished, beginning with putting her to bed about 8.30pm.
“I put her to bed, I tucked her in. I made sure her sleeping bag was completely tucked under her mattress,” she said.
“I made sure she was warm. It was going to be quite a windy night, it was overcast. We just tried to make sure she was safe.”
About 1.30am, she asked Cleo to “get back into bed” after the girl woke up to have some water.
“I put my head through to check on (her younger sister) Isla and that was it — that was the last time,” she said.
About 6am, Ms Smith woke up and realised Cleo was not in the tent, describing that moment as “heartbreaking, heart-wrenching … completely scary”.
“I remember thinking, how did someone come into that tent and take Cleo?” Ms Smith said.
“How could someone feel that they could do that to someone, how could someone take my child? My gut just felt sick.
“I would never wish anyone to wake up and feel that feeling that went through me. I couldn’t explain that to you.”
Asked what she would say to whoever may have abducted Cleo, Ms Smith said she wouldn’t know what to say before Mr Gliddon said: “Please bring our girl back.”
“Bring her home,” Ms Smith added.
“She’s everything to us and she belongs at home with her family.”
Lead investigator Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde said two people in a vehicle had seen a car turn right off Blowholes Rd onto North West Coastal Highway, heading towards Carnarvon, between 3am and 3.30am the day Cleo vanished.
Police want the driver to come forward.
Meanwhile, the state government is offering a $1m reward for information that solves the mystery.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.