As the search for Cleo Smith exceeds its second week, her distraught parents have been the target of online trolls.
According to Western Australia Police, Cleo’s mum Ellie Smith and stepdad Jake Gliddon have been “nothing but helpful” during the investigation, and have been ruled out as suspects.
Despite a public statement from police saying they believe Cleo’s parents are innocent, vile accusations have been sent to the family online.
The majority of comments left on Ellie’s page have been filled with hope and support for Cleo to be found.
However, Jake’s Facebook has become a stomping ground for sick trolls to voice their accusations against the couple.
Other users have been reporting the comments, but many of them have stayed on the page and are now days old.
Commenters have accused them of withholding information from the police, while others have said the couple should be subject to a polygraph test to “clear your names”.
Shockingly, one person suggested the couple did not look sad enough during media appearances, which is the same criticism Lindy Chamberlain received during the media search for Azaria.
Other comments including the sickening suggestion that Ellie and Jake may have intentionally harmed Cleo.
A family friend, who did not wish to be named, branded the comments an “utter disgrace”.
“Most of the Facebook comments are being made by parents themselves and I think that’s disgusting,” he told Perth Now.
“Just imagine if it happened to them and they had to read all these horrible comments during undoubtedly the hardest time of their lives.”
“The police have cleared Jake and Ellie from being suspects. I have known them for years and I can tell you they are the best people I know and my heart aches for them.”
He went on to say the trolls who are just “sitting behind their keyboards” should stop the negative and hurtful comments, adding there was “no right way to act when your child is stolen from you”.
Image credit: 7News
This article first appeared on Over60.