Did a woman help Cleo Smith? Police spray Carnarvon house to search for clues
Cleo is back in the arms of her mum Ellie Smith. Photo: AAP
As police use a chemical spray that could lead them to a suspected accomplice in the alleged abduction of Cleo Smith, detectives are yet to publicly rule out reports the little girl was cared for by a woman during her two week ordeal.
Cleo has reportedly told Western Australia police that a woman dressed her and brushed her hair.
The four-year-old was rescued last week and found in good health, with videos of the rescue showing the little girl’s hair was neat and clothes fresh when detectives retrieved her from the home of Terence Kelly.
Investigators – including Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine, one of the men who rescued Cleo in the middle of the night – returned to the Carnarvon house on Tuesday to sift through potential clues.
Police have now sprayed the property with a potent chemical foam which could reveal evidence – such as fingerprints or DNA – they need to determine whether anyone else had been in contact with Cleo after she disappeared from her tent on October 16.
WA media reported officers must now wait two days before returning to the property on Tonkin Crescent.
It’s been revealed Mr Kelly had lived with his adoptive grandmother who was his full-time carer during his adulthood because of his mental health. The elderly woman died almost two years ago, and neighbours said Mr Kelly had since been living alone.
Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, has been transferred to a maximum security prison. Photo: Getty
Police visited the deceased woman’s house on Tuesday but there was nobody home when they knocked. Nine News reported that that property is just 300 metres from where Cleo’s family had moved to about a month before the alleged abduction.
One family friend told Nine News Mr Kelly did not have smarts to care for Cleo alone and she therefore suspected another person must have been involved.
“He hasn’t got the know-how of how to do things,” Barbara Graham said.
“He would have someone there to show him what to do.”
The New Daily reported last week that the accused had experienced a traumatic childhood. Video has since emerged of Mr Kelly’s adoptive grandmother before she died, in which she confirms “Terry” had come to live with her because his mother was unable to care for him.
The respected community elder had continued caring for Mr Kelly during his adulthood because he suffered mental distress, according to 2014 parliamentary inquiry evidence cited by The Australian newspaper.
In an oral history interview in May 2019 for the State Library of Western Australia, the elderly woman told of her difficult youth including how she had been a heavy drinker and a domestic violence victim.
After her own children were taken from her, the woman considered young Mr Kelly a gift from God. She raised him in the same house as two of her biological grandsons.
“So I had this little boy. Beautiful boy, Terry, two-year-old jet black curly hair,” she said.
Neighbours and former school friends have spoken of their shock at learning Mr Kelly was the man arrested in the high-profile case which has gripped the world, adding that he had become withdrawn since his grandmother’s death.
Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine talks to Cleo Smith after WA Police rescue her from a locked home in Carnarvon. Photo: AAP
Police have not commented on a suspected motive.
On Tuesday, Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon visited Carnarvon police station to be updated on the investigation and later emerged with bundles of gifts gifted to Cleo from the local community.
The Daily Mail Australia has reported that sources close to the investigation claimed Cleo has mentioned that a woman visited the house during the time she was allegedly held captive.
Detectives were asked about the theory on Tuesday afternoon but refused to comment.
“No, sorry, I’ve got no comment,” Sen-Sgt Blaine said after emerging from the crime scene.
On Monday, he said the investigation was going well and detectives would stay in Carnarvon, about 1000 kilometres north of Perth, until at least the end of the week.
“Our focus this week is for us to ascertain whether there was anyone else involved,” Sen-Sgt Blaine said.
“That’s why we are still here.
“We just ask that if there was anyone that had any contact with Mr Kelly, whether you saw him, whether you met with him, whether you spoke to him on the phone during the relevant period to please make yourself known to police.”