'One in a million': Cleo Smith being found alive is 'highly unusual'

·2-min read

Cleo Smith being found alive by police almost three weeks after she disappeared is a “one in a million” event, an expert has revealed.

The four-year-old was located inside a locked home at Carnarvon — just a seven minute drive from her own home — in the early hours of Wednesday morning. She was allegedly abducted from her family's tent at the Blowholes campsite on October 16.

Speaking to the ABC, WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson confirmed a 36-year-old man had been arrested after the rescue mission but insisted the man has no connection to Cleo's family.

Associate Professor of Criminology and forensic anthropologist Dr Xanthé Mallet with the University of Newcastle told Yahoo News Australia on Wednesday it is “remarkable” the four-year-old was discovered alive.

Cleo Smith seen with her mum Ellie before the abduction. Source: TikTok/elliesmith2223
The four-year-old was located inside a locked home in Carnarvon in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Source: TikTok/elliesmith2223

“This is just remarkable stuff to be honest with you, after 19 days I did not expect this outcome,” she said.

“This is once in a million, once in a million.

“We see child abductions all the time and everyone was concerned it was going to be the next William Tyrrell.”

William Tyrrell was three years old when he was abducted from a NSW home in 2014. He remains missing.

Dr Mallet told Channel Seven's Sunrise it is "highly unusual" for an abducted child to be found alive and well after so long.

A map showing the distance between the home in Carnarvon and the Blowholes campsite.
Cleo Smith was found in Carnarvon, about 70km away from the Blowholes campsite where she was taken. Source: Yahoo News Australia

Man likely has a connection to Cleo, expert says

Despite police saying the man in custody over Cleo’s disappearance has no connection to the family, Dr Mallet said she believes the person responsible will have some kind of link to the child.

“There will absolutely be a connection, whether they’ve seen the child somewhere or they’ve spoken to the child, they’ll know the family,” she told Yahoo News Australia.

Dr Mallet credited the hard work of police officers and detectives and their “intelligent investigation” with the “wonderful conclusion”.

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