The 36-year-old puppeteer accused of kidnapping 4-year-old Cleo Smith in Australia appeared to wink creepily to reporters Friday as he was transferred to a maximum security prison.
Terrence Kelly was filmed making the gesture while escorted from a police car to a small plane in the town of Carnarvon, where the little girl was found alive and well on Wednesday after being missing for 18 days.
In their first public statement since finding Cleo, her parents, Elle Smith and Jake Gliddon, said Friday that they were “humbled by the love and support” they have received throughout their ordeal.
“We are so grateful that our little girl is back in our arms and our family is whole again,” they said. “In particular, we would like to thank Western Australian Police, all those involved in the initial search, the Carnarvon community, local businesses, and of course our family and friends.”
Since his arrest on Wednesday, it has emerged that Kelly – who was described by his neighbors as “recluse” – had an obsession with Bratz dolls and owned a large collection of them. One of his social media pages is a Facebook page entirely dedicated to gaming.
The suspect also posted a photo of himself wearing a Bratz doll shirt while taking one of the dolls for a drive.
He wrote, “I love taking dolls for a ride in the car, getting their hair done and taking selfies in public.”
Kelly later landed at Jandakot Airport and made his way to Casuarina Prison, one of Perth’s most notorious prisons, Perth has now reported. He is expected to appear again in court on December 6.
On Friday morning, two child specialists arrived at Cleo’s home with two detectives to work on compiling the girl’s victim’s statement, according to Birth Now.
The news agency reported that investigators, Kurt Ford and Drew Masterson, were among the team that rescued Cleo two days earlier by breaking through the alleged kidnapper’s front door.
Cleo disappeared from her family’s tent on October 16 at the remote Blowholes Shacks camp site in Macleod. Police launched an extensive search by land and air, set up roadblocks and watched surveillance footage.
Officers found her after breaking into the locked home in Carnarvon, a town 62 miles south of the camp site on the state’s far northwest coast.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reported that Kelly posted an encrypted message about the need for privacy and that adults were “also vigil online” on the day he allegedly kidnapped Cleo – and that his Facebook profile also followed the girl’s mother.
The outlet stated that “I cannot accept friend requests from strangers… I live a private life and I respect those on my friends list to ensure their privacy is respected as well.”
“We adults have to be careful online too,” he added.
The news platform said his social media profile was also following Cleo’s mother, Ellie, who has been regularly sharing updates about the investigation and begging for her daughter’s safe return.