“I love driving my dolls, styling them and taking selfies in public “, rejoiced, in April 2020, Bratz DeLuca on Facebook. Under the post, punctuated by a heart, four photos. Those of a man in his vehicle, greasy hair falling over his eyes, staring at the camera like a teenager, a doll against his chest. Terence Kelly, whose real name is, is a 36-year-old Aboriginal. His strange profile worries as much as it intrigues Australia since his arrest, on the night of November 2 to 3, for the kidnapping of Cleo Smith, aged 4.
The girl, with the mischievous smile, is a survivor. She was found alive and well, eighteen days after missing from a remote campsite on the mainland’s west coast on October 16. That night, the girl sleeps in a tent with her family. At 1:30, she asks for water. At 6 o’clock, it vanished. “When I woke up on Saturday morning the zipper was open and Cleo was gone. Neither did his sleeping bag “, testifies then his mother, Ellie Smith, the voice broken with sobs. The authorities comb the area, offer a reward of 1 million Australian dollars (645,000 euros) for any information, and assign 140 police officers to the case. They fear kidnapping.
A miraculous rescue
How did investigators finally trace Terence Kelly? According to the daily The Australian, it was while making a list of people who frequented the campsite that they came across his name for the first time. The thirty-something, suspected of being a petty offender, allegedly sold cannabis to backpackers there. But at this point, his profile does not particularly capture the attention. He is neither a regular visitor to the premises nor listed as a sex offender.
It is the demarcation of his telephone, the night of the disappearance, which would have notably changed the investigation. And a car had been spotted leaving the scene in the same time slot. The police succeeded “To assemble the different pieces of the puzzle. (…) It was literally a needle in a haystack of data ”, greeted, shortly after the rescue of the girl, Col Blanch, the deputy commissioner of the police of Western Australia.
Cleo Smith was found on November 3 shortly before 1 a.m., playing peacefully in a lighted room in Terence Kelly’s house, in an underprivileged part of the town of Carnarvon nicknamed “the Bronx”, some 70 kilometers from the campsite. His kidnapper was arrested earlier at the wheel of his car. In photos taken during his transfer to a top security prison in Perth on November 5, he appears shaggy, scruffy and walking barefoot. At his side, the police do not take their eyes off him. Since then, the individual, victim of injuries he may have inflicted on himself, has been hospitalized.
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