The search for Cleo

Alannah Hipps

More stories from Alannah Hipps

NFL (Taylor’s Version)
October 31, 2023

Ellie Smith woke up early on Oct. 16 expecting a fun day of camping, but alarm bells went off in her head as she looked in her tent and saw that her daughter was missing. 

“I would never wish for anyone to wake up and feel that feeling that went through me. I could not explain it to you,” Smith said. 

Smith immediately knew that Cleo, her four-year-old daughter, must have been kidnapped, as she would not have been able to open the tent all the way on her own. The same day she reported Cleo missing, police forces began searching the area and looking to social media and even the dark web for clues.  

“I love you. We miss you and we want you home,” Smith said. 

After over two weeks of searching, the police finally found Cleo alive and alone in a locked house on Nov. 3 around 1 a.m. Terence Kelly, the guilty kidnapper, was recently charged for holding her in his house. Currently, he is being monitored at Casuarina Prison. Little is known about what happened during the 18 days of Cleo’s disappearance, and child specialists are working to figure out exactly what occurred. During an interview, Cleo revealed that a woman came to the house and helped her get dressed and brush her hair. This new information means that someone else knew that she was being held in his house, and Kelly might have had an accomplice.  

“Authorities initially said the suspect acted alone, but in light of what Cleo reportedly said, forensic experts are continuing to search his home for evidence of another person who may have been present,” A New York Post article said. 

A search through Kelly’s house revealed that he has an ongoing obsession with Bratz Dolls, as he has a full room dedicated to his doll collection and has posted pictures of him and the dolls on his Facebook account. A woman from Sydney, Australia also discovered fake social media accounts he made using her and her family’s photos.  

“I love taking my dolls for a drive around, and doing their hair and taking selfies in public,” Kelly said in a post by his Facebook account. 

Despite these unfortunate events, Cleo is making an amazing recovery, and her family and friends are very grateful for her safe return.