Cleo Smith search: Carnarvon community unite for moving vigil, hopeful little girl will be found alive

Jackson Barrett and Ailish DelaneyThe West Australian
VideoPolice are exploring whether whoever took Cleo Smith from her tent had visited her family home beforehand, amid fears the abduction could have been pre-meditated.

Devastated Carnarvon residents clinging to hopes missing four-year-old Cleo Smith will be found alive have united for a moving candlelit vigil.

More than 100 people packed the Church of Christ on Sunday evening for an emotional service.

A book containing dozens of messages of support was signed and will be gifted to Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and stepfather Jake Gliddon.

Guests were invited to light a candle at the front of the hall to symbolise their hope Cleo will return safely.

Pastor Brendon Law-Davis led the crowd in prayer and urged Carnarvon residents to continue throwing their arms around the family and each other.

“Be there for each other,” he said.

Vigil for missing four year old Cleo Smith.
Camera IconVigil for missing four year old Cleo Smith. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian
Church of Christ Carnarvon.
Camera IconChurch of Christ Carnarvon. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

In a show of unity, pastors and chaplains from a number of churches, including Carnarvon’s Catholic and Uniting churches, read bible chapters before a few minutes of silent thought. Three dedicated prayers were spoken collectively, calling for hope, for the family and giving thanks to the tireless work of police and search crews, including volunteers.

“As a community we stand together and give thanks for the efforts of all who have searched in this mission to bring Cleo home,” one prayer read.

“We stand with broken hearts, helpless and we yearn with a family who want to see their Cleo rescued.”

Missing girl Cleo Smith, 4.
Camera IconMissing girl Cleo Smith, 4. Credit: Facebook / Ellie Smith/Facebook / Ellie Smith
Vigil for missing four year old Cleo Smith in Carnarvon this evening.
Camera IconVigil for missing four year old Cleo Smith in Carnarvon this evening. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

Weary and down-trodden but hopeful residents filed in to the church for the service which ran for roughly half-an-hour, with many staying behind to find solace in their community.

Barbara Hatch said the town was reeling from the news of Cleo’s suspected abduction.

She said attending the service was a small way to show her support for the little girl’s family.

“I think we feel because it could easily have been our children,” she said.

“Anybody could have been in the same situation.

“It’s a small community and everyone is really, really hurting and no one knows what’s happened.” One lifelong Carnarvon resident said the tragedy had shaken the town to its core.

“I’ve never seen anything like a community coming together like they are for this to try and find this little girl,” he said.

“The effort the law enforcement people are putting in is second-to-none. They’re leaving no stone unturned.”

His wife, who used to work with Cleo’s mother Ellie at BankWest, described the situation as “very sad”.

Jana Eastwood said it was important for her to participate simply “because I am a mother”.

“We’ve got children, grandchildren, great grandchildren — it’s very sad and could be any family,” she said.

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