Man Pleads Guilty, Admits to Abduction of 4-Year-Old Cleo Smith During Family's Camping Trip in Australia

Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, in custody by members of the Special Operations Group at Carnarvon airport in Australia; Cleo Smith, 4, in hospital in Australia recovering after 18-day abduction
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One of the heart-stopping moments of Cleo Smith's rescue was when one of the officers scooped up Cleo into his arms and asked, ‘What’s your name sweetheart?’ She replied, ‘My name is Cleo,” Deputy Commissioner Col. Blanch said.

A man pleaded guilty to abducting 4-year-old Cleo Smith from her family’s campsite in Western Australia in October, according to published news reports.

On Monday, Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, admitted to abducting Smith, during a virtual court appearance at the maximum-security prison he is being held at in Carnarvon, Australia, the Associated Press reported.

Kelly now faces up to 20 years in prison on a conviction of forcibly taking a child aged under 16. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 20. in the District Court of Western Australia, the news outlet reported. 

The disappearance of little Cleo made headlines around the world when she went missing on Oct. 16.  After a massive 18-day search, Cleo was discovered in a locked room in Kelly's house, located approximately 62 miles away from the campsite, Deputy Commissioner Col. Blanch said in a video statementPeople reported. 

Officials said Smith was found during a late-night raid in the coastal town of Carnarvon, after police followed up on a tip, according to a previously reported Associated Press story.

After the daunting rescue, Chris Dawson, the Western Australia State Police commissioner, would not provide any details as to what Smith had gone through, but said she is “as well as you can expect," the news outlet reported.

"This has been an ordeal. I won’t go into any more details, other than to say we’re so thankful she’s alive," Dawson said. 

The authorities said Cleo appeared to be “physically okay,” but was taken to the hospital to confirm she did not sustain any injuries, People reported. 

One of the heart-stopping moments of Smith's rescue was when one of the officers scooped up Cleo into his arms and asked, ‘What’s your name sweetheart?’ She replied, ‘My name is Cleo,” Col. Blanch said, Inside Edition previously reported. 

The emotional rescue was seen all over the world. Smith's mother, Ellie Smith, and stepfather were overcome with tears of joy.

"We are humbled by the love and support that we have received from not only our local community but the whole of Western Australia and across the country," they said in a statement, according to a report. 

Kelly, who was said to be obsessed with Bratz dolls, had posted on social media photographs of him with his Bratz dolls. "I love taking my dolls for a drive around and doing their hair and taking selfies in public,” Inside Edition previously reported. 

Kelly has not entered a plea in connection with other criminal charges he faces, including the assault of a police officer,  People reported. A sentencing date has not been announced on the abduction charge, the news outlet said. 

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