“I’ve got you bubby.”
An audio recording of the moment that 4-year-old Cleo Smith was discovered in a locked home almost three weeks after she went missing has been released by Australian police.
At the beginning of the clip shared by officials, an officer can be heard saying: “We’ve got her, we’ve got her.”
He then asks the child what her name is. She hesitates.
“My name is Cleo,” she finally responds.
“Your name is Cleo,” an officer says.
“You’re alright bubby,” another replies.
A 36-year-old man has been charged with various offences related to Cleo’s disappearance from her family’s tent at a campsite, according to Reuters. Police have not named him.
Earlier on Thursday, Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde told reporters that the man had been taken to hospital while in custody to treat self-inflicted injuries.
Cleo disappeared in the middle of the night a tent in the remote Australian outback on Oct. 16. The family had been camping about 60 miles north of her home in Carnarvon, a coastal town of some 5,000 people in the state of Western Australia.
Her disappearance shook the nation and triggered a massive police search that initially covered the area around the campsite, before extending nationwide. Cleo’s parents made desperate pleas for her safe return.
Police found Cleo just after midnight on Wednesday local time at a house in Carnarvon, just a short drive from the Smith family home. She was taken to a hospital for assessment, before being sent home to her parents, police said.
Western Australia Police on Wednesday released a photo of Cleo in a hospital bed, smiling and waving to the camera while eating a popsicle.
Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan visited the Smith family Thursday, he told reporters.
“Cleo was a delightful little girl who was playing in the backyard,” he said. “It was a lovely experience to meet her. She was, I felt very well adjusted, considering.”
Western Australian Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch told Perth Radio 6PR on Wednesday officials shed tears of relief and joy after finding Cleo.
“We were … looking for a needle in a haystack and we found it,” Blanch said.