The captivating and chilling triple-0 call made by Ellie Smith in the harrowing hours after Cleo Smith’s abduction has finally come to light, revealing the raw emotions that engulfed the desperate mother. Ellie Smith, along with her partner Jake Gliddon, has broken her silence in their first interview since the sentencing of Terence Kelly, the man who admitted to snatching the four-year-old Cleo in October 2021. The shocking discovery of Cleo at Kelly’s residence in the coastal town of Carnarvon, just a stone’s throw away from her own family home, marked the end of an 18-day nightmare.
Terence Kelly, 37, was handed a sentence of 13 years and six months in prison in April. The recent episode of 60 Minutes unveiled the heart-wrenching phone call Ellie Smith made upon realizing her daughter was missing. In a voice filled with panic, she tells the operator, “Hi, umm, my daughter’s gone missing.” The operator, trying to assess the situation, asks the age of her daughter, to which Ellie responds, her voice trembling, “She’s four.” The segment also featured gripping police bodycam footage captured in the immediate aftermath of Cleo’s abduction at a remote campsite north of Carnarvon. Ellie Smith appears visibly distressed as she informs the officers about her missing daughter.
Reflecting on Cleo’s journey since the traumatic incident, Ellie Smith shared in the interview that Cleo still experiences nights filled with sadness and nightmares, unable to fully articulate her emotions. “Her nightmare nights are the worst nights, it’s just heartbreaking,” Ellie Smith revealed. The pain of knowing that Cleo cried out for help while they were unaware and unable to respond is a heavy burden for the family to bear. Addressing the topic of Terence Kelly and the events that unfolded, Ellie Smith admitted, “It is hard talking about [Terence Kelly and what happened.” Both Ellie Smith and Jake Gliddon, who were present in the WA District Court during Kelly’s sentencing, have been through a tumultuous journey.
WA Police Minister Paul Papalia, speaking to 60 Minutes, shed light on the search for Cleo, emphasizing how it started as a broad investigation that gradually narrowed its focus. He stated, “Just prior to his arrest they became more focused on him.” The interview with 60 Minutes is the second time Ellie Smith and Jake Gliddon have spoken publicly about the ordeal. In February 2022, approximately three months after Cleo’s safe return, they participated in an interview and received a reported payment of $2 million. Following Kelly’s sentencing, the couple opted not to engage with the media outside the court.
This segment comes on the heels of Kelly’s legal defense filing an appeal against his sentence in the WA Court of Appeals. Cleo’s disappearance gained international attention as authorities tirelessly searched for the young girl day and night. She had been on a camping trip with her mother, stepfather, and baby sister at the Point Quobba Blowholes Campground when she was taken. On that fateful night, Kelly, under the influence of methamphetamine, unzipped the tent where Cleo slept between 2:40 a.m. and 4:40 a.m., initially intending to steal valuables. However, he made the chilling decision to snatch Cleo instead.
As the search continued, WA Premier Mark McGowan announced a $1 million reward for any information related to Cleo’s disappearance. Details emerged during Kelly’s sentencing hearing, revealing the extent of Cleo’s captivity. She was allowed to wander around Kelly’s house when he was present, but otherwise, she was confined to a locked bedroom while he carried out his daily activities within the local community. When Cleo cried out for help and begged to be returned to her parents, Kelly resorted to turning up the radio to drown out her pleas, concealing her presence from curious neighbors. At times, his anger escalated, leading to physical aggression as he would “smack her” or “rough her up.” Throughout the 18 days of captivity, no one else entered Kelly’s residence.
After weeks of tireless police work, detectives received a crucial tip-off that led them to Kelly’s home. In the early morning hours, they launched a dramatic raid, breaking down the locked door to find Cleo innocently playing with toys. The emotional rescue was captured on video by the officers involved, capturing the precious moment when Cleo is finally freed from her captor’s clutches. Sergeant Blaine, visibly relieved, asks the girl, “What’s your name?” Three times he repeats the question until Cleo responds, her voice trembling but filled with hope, “My… my name is Cleo.”
Following Cleo’s safe recovery, her parents expressed deep gratitude for the overwhelming love and support they received. In a heartfelt statement, they acknowledged the efforts of the WA Police, the initial search team, the Carnarvon community, local businesses, as well as their family and friends. Their profound appreciation extended beyond their local community to encompass the entirety of Western Australia and the entire nation. The family’s statement conveyed their profound thankfulness for having Cleo back in their loving embrace, restoring their family’s unity.
The revelation of the haunting triple-0 call and the release of the police bodycam footage have once again brought Cleo’s remarkable story to the forefront of public attention. It serves as a stark reminder of the resilience and strength of a young girl who endured unimaginable circumstances. Cleo’s remarkable survival and the collective effort to bring her home have ignited discussions about child safety, the importance of community support, and the dedication of law enforcement.
As the legal proceedings continue with Kelly’s appeal, the hope remains that justice will prevail, and Cleo’s ordeal will lead to meaningful changes in the systems designed to protect vulnerable children. The heart-wrenching journey of Cleo Smith serves as a powerful testament to the unwavering determination of a community to find a missing child and restore hope amidst darkness.
The story of Cleo Smith has captured the hearts of people around the world, highlighting the indomitable spirit of a young girl, the unwavering strength of her family, and the resilience of a community united in the pursuit of justice. It stands as a poignant reminder that even in the face of unimaginable adversity, love, hope, and the unwavering commitment to safeguarding our children can triumph over darkness.