Police in Australia have returned to the house where 4-year-old kidnapping victim Cleo Smith was discovered last week to investigate whether there was a second kidnapper involved in her 18-day abduction.
Last week, Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, an avid Bratz doll collector, was arrested in far-west Carnarvon, when the young child, who disappeared from her parents’ campsite on Oct. 16, was found alone in his home.
Kelly is charged with forcibly kidnapping Cleo, who was found on Nov. 3 awake at 1 a.m playing with toys in a room inside the home—18 days after she disappeared.
Investigators told reporters at the scene they had remained in the house to collect more evidence after something led them to believe Kelly may not have acted alone.
New insight into who might have helped Kelly came to light Monday when sources told Daily Mail that Cleo had revealed that a woman visited the Tonkin Crescent duplex and allegedly helped to dress her and brush her hair.
Detective Senior Sgt. Cameron Blaine had told reporters that investigators were focused on figuring out whether or not others had been involved in Cleo’s kidnapping, and were making use of specialists trained in interviewing young victims.
“That’s why we are still here,” Blaine said. “So, 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.”
Police have confiscated dolls, crayons, and drawing paper from the home as part of the growing evidence cache in what Australian media have dubbed the biggest investigation in the history of Western Australia. Police also found a cellphone hidden in a bag, according to local media reports. Police said Monday that Kelly’s cellphone had proved instrumental in his capture and the recovery of the young girl.
“So we put the phone data over number-plate recognition data, CCTV, witness accounts, forensics,” investigator Rod Wilde told reporters. “And when you layer them on top of each other you solve crimes and that is merely what we have done here.”
A 2020 interview with Aboriginal elder Penny Walker, who raised Kelly (who is being held in a prison in Perth awaiting formal arraignment Dec. 5), surfaced over the weekend. In it, she described how Kelly’s mother abandoned her and she raised him in the house where little Cleo was found. Walker died in 2020. “I looked down at him. And this little boy God was giving me something back into my life what the welfare took off me—my children,” Walker, whose own six children were taken away by state authorities, can be heard saying during the interview. “His mom didn’t want him and she threw him away.”