The senior detective on the case of Cleo Smith’s alleged abduction was at the house where he helped save the little girl as the crime scene tape finally came down after nine days.
It came as contractors were brought in to board up Terence Kelly’s house — where the four-year-old was found locked inside a room — amid fears the home could now be the target of a vigilante attack.
In an emotional moment, Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine came to the home to thank and shake the hands of police officers who had guarded the home 24/7 for the past nine days as it was scoured by forensics.
He stood on the road and watched, patting a neighbour’s dog affectionately given the name Scoop by the media, as the officers tore down the police tape and shut the gate on the property which has been in the global focus since Cleo was rescued on Wednesday last week.
Det-Sen Sgt Blaine was one of four detectives who saved Cleo from the alleged kidnapper’s lair and carried her to safety, and told of the heartwarming moment she told him “my name is Cleo” — confirming the little girl they had “grave” fears for was, remarkably, safe.
A team of forensics arrived at Terence Kelly’s Tonkin Crescent home about 9am on Thursday carrying gear into the home, after a forensic chemical called Superfume was used to turn up any latent fingerprints at the scene.
After another examination of the home, four homicide detectives arrived for a debriefing and to sign off the forensic search.
Later, contractors arrived to board up the property, likely to prevent people from breaking into to take a look inside the home.
Locals and police also fear the property could be destroyed or firebombed.
The investigation on the ground is now scaling back, with the heavy police presence in Carnarvon — which has been heaving with detectives since Cleo went missing — expected to be gone by the weekend.
It comes as The West Australian revealed the sleeping bag Cleo was sleeping in when she was taken from her family’s tent has still not been found.
Mr Kelly’s home had been under police guard since Wednesday last week, with forensics at the home the entire time apart from Wednesday when the chemical was developing.
Officers have turned the home upside down in their search for evidence, filling trailer loads of items of interest which is expected to be taken to Perth for examination by forensic scientists in a laboratory.
Items seen being taken from the home included at least one Bratz doll and a box of crayons and pens. A bed frame was being dusted for fingerprints in the backyard at one point last week.
On Tuesday, officers turned their attention to a Mazda SUV in Mr Kelly’s driveway.
The car, which does not have number plates and is covered in cobwebs, was tagged with stickers marking evidence on its doors.
Officers were photographing and testing the interior of the car, which has stayed put in the driveway since Mr Kelly’s arrest. It is understood Mr Kelly was in another car when he was arrested nearby last week.
The officers are part of Taskforce Rodia, which was formed in the wake of Cleo’s suspicious disappearance from the tent she shared with her family at the Blowholes camp site on October 16.
Following a $1 million reward, and police investigative work that involved analysing data — including mobile phone data — they were led to Mr Kelly’s home 18 days later.
Despite police holding “grave” fears for her safety during the almost three-week search, Cleo was found alive in a locked room. The little girl was returned to her family a short time later.