The case of Cleo Smith, a 4-year-old girl who disappeared from her tent in a remote campsite in western Australia, but was found alive and well in a locked house 18 days later, went around the world and was hailed by many as a miracle. “
According to Australian public television channel ABC, a 36-year-old man has been charged with kidnapping her. Police and volunteers spent days searching carefully for her, and a reward of AU $ 1 million (approximately $ 745,000) was offered for information that could lead to her safe return.
Terence Darrell Kelly from Western Australia appeared in local court on Thursday, ABC reported.
Kelly was in police custody for two days after being briefly admitted to the hospital due to self-inflicted injuries while in custody.
The disappearance of a little girl has swept across Australia, where many families go hiking. Kidnappings are rare in the country.
On Wednesday, police found Smith alone in a locked room in a house in Carnarvon, just seven minutes from where she lived with her mother, stepfather and younger sister. The suspect was not in the house, but shortly afterwards he was detained nearby.
On Thursday, police released an audio recording of the moment when police entered the room where she was allegedly being held and asked her name to confirm that she was missing.
Local police called her rescue “the miracle we all hoped for,” and Western Australian Prime Minister Mark McGowa called it “great news and inspiration for the entire country, especially those who have put their lives and souls into finding Cleo.”