Neighbours of a 36-year-old man arrested in connection with the abduction of Cleo Smith said they grew suspicious after seeing him buying nappies in a grocery store.
Smith was found in a locked house in Carnarvon, Western Australia, overnight on Wednesday, November 3, 18 days after she went missing while on a camping trip with her family.
Now, residents in the neighbourhood where she was rescued have revealed their shock at the missing girl having been discovered so close to home.
‘Everyone knows the person who stays at that house, but no one would have thought it would be him, we were shocked,’ said local resident Henry Dodds, adding that while he’d seen the man buying nappies in a Woolworths earlier that week he ‘didn’t click on what he was buying them for’.
‘He’s been acting a bit strange lately,’ Dodd said, ‘He doesn’t have his dogs at the front [normally], he has his dogs out the back, but through this week he had his dogs out the front and he has been acting weird.’
Another neighbour, Sahntayah McKenzie, told the West Australian that she’d also recalled a strange detail that she only later realised may have been a clue that Smith was nearby, saying, ‘Not last night, the night before it… I heard a little girl crying but I wouldn’t expect it to be Cleo.’
‘I didn’t expect it would happen in this little neighbourhood, a lot of people know each other,’ she said, with several other residents spoken to by reporters also expressing their shock at the alleged actions of their neighbour, who they described as a ‘quiet’ man.
Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson confirmed the arrest of a ‘local man,’ with no charges having been brought at this time. Video filmed earlier today showed the man in question being transported to hospital in the back of an ambulance with a bandage wrapped around his head, though police have not confirmed how he was injured.
Commissioner Dawson said the investigation into Cleo’s abduction is still ongoing, but told reporters she was located thanks to a tip-off, with officers using phone data to identify the house.
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