Detectives investigating the disappearance of Cleo Smith have ruled out a major line of inquiry, saying there is "no evidence" to suggest the 4-year-old or her family were victims of stalking before she vanished.
Cleo was last seen by her family when they were staying at the remote Blowholes Campground in Macleod, Western Australia, at about 1.30am when she asked for water. When her mother next awoke, she was gone.
Over the weekend, forensic police combed through the family's home in South Carnarvon, and reports emerged they were looking for evidence of stalking prior to Cleo's probable abduction eight days ago.
However, the detective leading the investigation has revealed there were no leads on a stalker and the search of the family's home was "standard practice".
"We do that as part of a thorough investigation but that's not indicating they've been stalked, nothing like it," Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde told the West Australian.
"In actual fact, if she has been taken, it's more likely to have been a random event. There is no indication and no evidence that anyone was being stalked."
A police source added that the forensic examination would help implicate or eliminate Cleo's parents as suspects.
Police have repeatedly stated that while they are not ruling out any possibilities, they are not treating Cleo's parents as suspects in this case.
Police seek car spotted leaving campsite
After a week of searching the rugged terrain for Cleo, police confirmed it was likely she had been abducted from the tent.
Police received a tip-off about a car seen leaving the area shortly after she was snatched from her family's tent.
"We're hoping that the persons that were in that vehicle come forward and make themselves known to police so we can speak to them," Wilde said.
The witnesses were unable to give a detailed description of the car and how many people were inside.
"We believe it's a passenger vehicle … at that time of night, it's very dark out there," Wilde said.
"We want to speak to the driver and persons – if there was more than one person in that vehicle – to establish exactly what was going on and what they were doing."
The reason police suspect an abduction is that the family's tent zip had been opened higher than Cleo could have reached and her sleeping bag was also missing.
While the massive land, air and sea search at and around the campsite is over, locals and holiday-makers have been urged to remain on the lookout.
Detectives say there are multiple witnesses from the crime scene who have not yet come forward, believing people were staying at the campsite who had not identified themselves.
They are urging the mystery campers to make contact.
'Cleo just can't simply disappear'
A $1m reward has been offered for any information that helps solve the mystery and police have asked for any dashcam, security footage or photos that could help the investigation.
"Someone does know something about this," WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson told reporters on Sunday.
"Cleo just can't simply disappear from that tent without a third party, another person or persons knowing.
"If you know, or you suspect someone, you think that their behaviour has changed since that weekend, then bring that information forward.
"That's the sort of information that might crack open this case."
He said there was no information pointing to Cleo having been taken out of WA but police were not ruling anything out.
"We're doing everything we can.
"WA is the largest police jurisdiction by landmass in the world, so it's a very, very large geographic area but at the same time we've had very strict border controls in place for now over 18 months.
"So I'm confident that we've got the main thoroughfares thoroughly controlled and that's what's kept Covid out.
"But at the same time, it's a very large area and that's why we want the community's assistance."