A man from an Australian coastal town has been arrested on Wednesday for the kidnapping of a young child, who had been missing for the past 18 days and was feared to have been killed.

Terence “Terry” Kelly, a 36-year-old man, has been charged with forcibly taking a child under 16 after he allegedly abducted 4-year-old Cleo Smith on Oct. 16 from a campsite nearly 30 miles away. Over 100 people participated in looking for the missing toddler, according to the New York Post.

Cleo was last seen on the morning of their camping trip on Oct. 16, when she asked for water from her mother Ellie Smith. Later that morning, they discovered that Cleo was missing, with her sleeping bag vanishing from the tent.

“As we passed the divider, I went into the other room and the zipper was open,” Ellie Smith said. “I turned around to [my partner] Jake and just said, ‘Cleo’s gone.’”

Terry Kelly, the suspect who allegedly kidnapped Cleo Smith, was taken to a hospital before being arrested due to a self-harming incident that occurred while he was under police custody, the New York Daily News reported.

Kelly’s motivations remain unclear as of press time, but many have noted that he has a strange obsession with Bratz dolls that many found unnerving. He reportedly has a Bratz-specific Facebook account under the name “Bratz DeLuca,” where he talks about his obsessions with the children’s toys.

The authorities have not yet revealed how they found out that Kelly had kidnapped Cleo Smith, but they found the child some 30 miles from the campsite and over 10 minutes away from her home in Carnarvon. They cite police work as to how they were able to find Smith in time.

“It wasn’t a random tip or a clairvoyant or any of the sort of things that you might hear,” Paul Papalia, Australian police minister, said. “It was just a hard police grind.”

Cleo Smith has been reunited with her family, with many who have observed her saying that she has recovered really quickly from the kidnapping situation that occurred.

“I can only see her on the outside, but from that point of view, I’m amazed that she seems to be so well-adjusted and happy, and it was really … heartwarming to see that she’s still bubbly and she’s laughing,” Cameron Blaine, a police detective, said.

Kelly is currently cooperating with the police in regards to the kidnapping and the charges.

Cleo Smith, the four-year-old Australian girl who was kidnapped on Oct. 16, was found alive in the home of Terry Kelly, who has been charged with her kidnapping. This is a representational image. PIXABAY

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.