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Missing girl found in Australia, man in custody: ‘Our family is whole again’

Colin Murty/Newspix via Getty Images

(CARNARVON, Australia) — A 36-year-old man is now in custody following the rescue of missing 4-year-old Cleo Smith, who disappeared 18 days ago while camping with her family, the Western Australia Police Force announced during a press conference.

Police said they received a tip Tuesday that led to a suburban home in Carnarvon, Australia, where they broke in and found Cleo around 1 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

“When she said, ‘My name is Cleo,’ I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house,” Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said Wednesday, while describing the girl’s words to the police officers. “To see Cleo rescued this morning, I’m speechless.”

He added that many detectives were “openly crying with relief.”

Blanch confirmed that Cleo has since been reunited with her parents and that the suspect in custody is currently being questioned by detectives.

Cleo’s mother, Ellie Smith, said, “Our family is whole again,” in a post on social media.

Cleo went missing on Oct. 16 after she disappeared from the tent she was sleeping in with her parents at a popular camping site north of Carnarvon.

Despite the state government offering a 1 million Australian dollar reward — equivalent to $743,000 — five days after Cleo went missing, Blanch said the money is not expected to be claimed.

“This is the outcome we all hoped and prayed for. It’s the outcome we’ve achieved because of some incredible police work,” Blanch said. “I want to thank Cleo’s parents, the Western Australian community and the many volunteers.”

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