The sleeping bag Cleo Smith was sleeping in when she was abducted from a tent at the Blowholes camp site has still not been found.
As the four-year-old on Wednesday finished spending her first week safe at home with her family since the brazen kidnapping, sources close to the investigation confirmed the red-and-grey sleeping bag was still unaccounted for.
It was deemed a critical item during the search for Cleo, with police releasing an image that was splashed on missing person posters all over the country.
Motorists travelling on the North West Coastal Highway were urged to keep an eye out for the item and police conducted a search of roadside bins.
Officers waded through 50 cubic metres of rubbish recovered from bins from Minilya to Geraldton, however, the sleeping bag was not found.
And despite the home of accused kidnapper Terence Kelly being turned upside down and emptied in a forensic search, there has still been no sign of it.
The Tonkin Crescent property was on Wednesday free from forensics for the first time since police broke into the home just before 1am on November 3.
A day earlier, gas-mask wearing officers had sprayed the inside of the house with a forensic chemical that brings up latent fingerprints.
It is understood officers will return to the home on Thursday to do another examination.
It came as Deputy Police Commissioner Col Blanch quashed reports police were focusing on a mystery woman as part of their investigation into Cleo’s abduction.
Asked at a press conference about the reports, Mr Blanch unequivocally said: “I can rule that out.”
When asked if police had ruled out a second person being involved, he said: “The investigation is ongoing, that’s all I’ll say at this time.”
Pushed on the subject, Mr Blanch, who has said police would not be making further comment while the case was before the courts, said: “Deliberately I’ve stepped away from the investigation.
“I’ve let the Taskforce Rodia team conduct their investigation. As I said earlier, a man has been charged.
“It’s before the courts, the less I say about it, the better it is to have a fair and transparent trial.
“I understand you have to keep asking questions, but at the end of the day, I’ve got to do the right thing by the court process. And I’ll make no further comment.”
On Monday, Det-Sen. Sgt Cameron Blaine said the focus of the investigation this week, following Mr Kelly’s arrest last week, was to “ascertain whether there was anyone else involved”.
“We just ask that if there was anyone that had any contact with Mr Kelly, whether you saw him or met him or spoke to him on the phone during the relevant period, to please make yourself known to police,” he said.
Former neighbours of Mr Kelly on Tuesday told The West Australian they had been told he was seen at the local TAB on Melbourne Cup day — hours before Cleo’s rescue — with an unidentified woman.
Mr Blanch said there was still a “long way to go” in the investigation.
He said Cleo and her family, as well as the police involved in her rescue, had received an outpouring of love in the form of gifts, food and notes of thank you’s and good wishes, which he said was a “feel good moment”.
Little Cleo, carried by mum Ellie Smith, was showered with presents when she arrived at Carnarvon police station on Tuesday.
One of the detectives who helped save Cleo was seen helping stepfather Jake Gliddon do several runs weighed down with gifts, hauling them into the boot. It appeared some had been mailed from all over the State.
Mr Blanch said Cleo’s family were “just happy to be a family” again.
“They are happy to be back together and they are relishing in that time,” he said.
“They have certainly asked for their privacy, we can all understand why, Cleo is only four years old and it’s important she gets back to normal life, which is going to be very difficult.
“But certainly coming out of that 18 days of hell, the best thing is that they are together and they are a family.”