Cleo Smith interview: Mom Ellie Smith and stepdad Jake Gliddon open up about Cleo’s state of mind

Cleo Smith’s mum has revealed what happened the moment she realized her four-year-old daughter had disappeared from a campsite in Carnarvon – sparking an 18-day search that ended in a miracle rescue.

Speaking on Nine in a controversial interview – for which the network paid more than $2 million – Ellie described the night before her baby girl disappeared in the early hours of Saturday, October 16.

“She had dinner, then we lit the fire. She had marshmallows. and I was like, ‘OK,'” she said.

“(I) took her in, put her in her bed and she just fell asleep.”

Ellie said the campsite, at the Blowholes near Carnarvon, was ‘so windy and noisy’.

Later, she says, Cleo woke up.

“She went back to bed. So, I just popped the head, checked it was okay, and that was it, really. She was fine. Cleo got into bed and said, ‘Good night, mum’. I jumped into bed, and that was it,” she said.

Later, when Ellie noticed the tent was open, she looked for Cleo and realized her daughter was gone.

“I turned to Jake and was like, ‘Cleo’s gone!'” she said.

Camera iconEllie Smith, mother of Cleo Smith. Credit: 60 minutes/60 minutes

“He was, like, so shocked, because she didn’t want to leave the tent.

“And Jake is out and he’s walking around the tent and he’s like, ‘I can’t find her.’

“And it was just a nightmare, really. Straight nightmare from that second.

Ellie and Jake also spoke for the first time about how Cleo had been since the horrific ordeal – and what she said about the 18 days she was missing.

“Every day is a new day. Yes, every day and every night is different. But she’s fine,” Jake said.

“She’s — happy, she’s bubbly.

She’s sad, she’s angry, but she’s getting there.

Cleo Smith's mother, Ellie Smith, and stepfather, Jake Gliddon, speak out in the controversial interview.
Camera iconCleo Smith’s mother, Ellie Smith, and stepfather, Jake Gliddon, speak out in the controversial interview. Credit: 60 minutes/60 minutes

Ellie said her daughter has since spoken of the time she disappeared, locked in a room in the home of her captor, Terence Kelly.

“She told us she was scared,” she said.

“She was locked – locked in a room, and she was scared, and she didn’t know where we were.”

Cleo’s mother takes aim at Terence Kelly

And the doting mum took aim at the man who admitted snatching his daughter from the campsite after it was revealed he had been following the couple on social media – and had a sickly obsession with dolls.

Cleo Smith's mother, Ellie Smith, and stepfather, Jake Gliddon, speak in the segment
Camera iconEllie Smith, mother of Cleo Smith, and her stepfather, Jake Gliddon. Credit: 60 minutes/60 minutes

“It’s so heartless. I was begging for my daughter, and here was someone reading me begging for her return. It’s just disgusting,” she said.

Ellie said the doll obsession was “just disgusting”.

“Obviously, like, that’s what he wanted. He wanted a little doll,” she said.

“It was nothing I wanted anyone to feel.”

Online trolls were ‘disgusting’

Ellie has slammed online trolls who blamed her for Cleo’s disappearance in the desperate days after her abduction.

“You know, people had so much hate in their hearts that they would send a message to the parents who had their child taken from them, saying, ‘You did this’ and ‘Go kill yourself.’

“They have no idea who we are as people or the situation, yet they had the audacity to message us and accuse us.”

Jake revealed that he received similar messages, some of which asked him to “bring Cleo back”.

Terence Kelly appears at Carnarvon Court via Cleo Smith kidnapping video link
Camera iconTerence Kelly appears at Carnarvon Court via video link. Credit: Don Lindsay/western australia

And Ellie said the troll messages had taken her to a “dark place”.

“I was very the opposite of Jake. I read every message I got. I opened everything and it was terrible,” she said.

“(These) people, they had never met me. (They) have no idea who we are, and you tell me I could do something like that. It’s so disgusting. It only confirmed that there were such terrible people in the world who could write these messages, let alone take my child. It was so bad.

Cleo’s hair has been dyed, cut

Ellie also revealed disturbing details about how Cleo’s kidnapper cut and dyed the little girl’s hair.

“His hair was cut, his hair was dyed,” she said.

“I was just angry that someone tried to change it to match what they wanted.

“I was so angry (with) the things she was saying.”

But Ellie said she did her best to hide her anger so Cleo wouldn’t see it.

“I didn’t want her to know that’s how I felt.”

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