Man Charged in Abduction of Cleo Smith, 4, Girl Found Alive After 18 Days in Western Australia

Cleo Smith disappeared from a campsite on Oct. 16 leading to a massive search that had gripped the island nation

Cleo Smith
Cleo Smith. Photo: Western Australia Police Force/Anadolu Agency/Getty

A man has been arrested and charged in connection to the 4-year-old girl who went missing from a campsite in Australia last month and was found earlier this week, the Western Australia Police Force confirmed to PEOPLE.

On Thursday, the 36-year-old appeared in court and was charged with multiple offenses related to Cleo Smith's abduction, including "one count of forcibly taking a child under 16," police said of the search, known as "Operation Rodia."

Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde, lead investigator in the case, said police believe the suspect, Terence Darrell Kelly, acted "spontaneously" and "solely alone," CNN and The Guardian report. He was taken into custody Wednesday and hospitalized early Thursday due to self-inflicted injuries, per the outlets.

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The investigation is ongoing, and Kelly remains in custody until he is due back in court Dec. 6.

Cleo was camping with her family at the Blowholes Shacks campsite in Western Australia when she went missing on Oct. 16, according to Australia's ABC News. Her family said they woke up around 6 a.m. and found that the tent was unzipped higher than the toddler could have reached. The little girl was nowhere to be found.

On Wednesday, Cleo was found in a locked home in Carnarvon — about 62 miles from the campsite where she went missing — around 1 a.m. local time, Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said in a video statement.

Police told reporters that the preschooler appeared "physically okay" when she was found. She was taken to the hospital to confirm she had no injuries.

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"One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her 'What's your name?' She said, 'My name is Cleo,' " Blanch said in his statement. Many of the responding officers reportedly wept.

Cleo was reunited with her family shortly after, Blanch confirmed.

"This is the outcome we all hoped and prayed for," he said. "It's the outcome we've achieved because of some incredible police work."

After Cleo was found, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison celebrated the news on Twitter, writing: "What wonderful, relieving news."

"Cleo Smith has been found and is home safe and sound," Morrison wrote. "Our prayers answered. Thank you to the many police officers involved in finding Cleo and supporting her family."

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