New Australian Coroner’s inquest may finally prove once and for all that Dingoes did, in fact, eat her baby

SYDNEY — A coroner on Friday opened Australia’s fourth inquest into the most notorious and bitterly controversial legal drama in the nation’s history: the 1980 death of a 9-week-old baby whose parents say was taken by a dingo from her tent in the Australian Outback.

Azaria Chamberlain’s mother, Lindy, was convicted and later cleared of murdering her and has always maintained that a wild dog took the baby. She and her ex-husband, Michael Chamberlain, are hoping fresh evidence they have gathered about dingo attacks on children will convince Northern Territory Coroner Elizabeth Morris and end relentless speculation that has followed them for 32 years.

Anne Lade, a former police officer hired by the court to investigate the case, told a packed courtroom at the Darwin Magistrates Court in the Northern Territory that in the years since Azaria disappeared, there have been numerous dingo attacks on humans, some of them fatal.

Rex Wild, a lawyer assisting the coroner, described several of the attacks and said he believed the evidence showed that a dingo could have been responsible for Azaria’s death.

‘Balance of probabilities’ The Australian newspaper reported that the court was told there have been 239 recorded attacks by dingoes in Queensland between 1990 and 2011.

“Although it (a dingo killing a child) may have been regarded as unlikely in 1980 … it shouldn’t be by 2011-12,” Wild said. “With the additional evidence in my submission, your honor should accept on the balance of probabilities that the dingo theory is the correct one.”

Morris adjourned the hearing without issuing a decision, and did not say when she would release her findings.

Azaria’s death certificate still lists her cause of death as “unknown.” The Chamberlains say they want to set the record straight on behalf of their daughter.

“It gives me hope this time that Australians will finally be warned and realize that dingoes are a dangerous animal,” Lindy said outside the courthouse in the Northern Territory capital, Darwin. “I also hope that this will give a final finding which closes the inquest into my daughter’s death, which so far has been standing open and unfinished.”

According to the Australian Associated Press the Chamberlains’ lawyer Stuart Tipple said on ABC Radio before the inquest began Friday that the couple were not bitter.

“What they really want to do is to get the message out there and to make sure that this sort of tragedy never ever happens again,” he said.

Fear and paranoia Azaria vanished from her tent in the Outback on Aug. 17, 1980, during a family vacation to Ayers Rock, the giant red monolith now known by its Aboriginal name Uluru. Fellow campers told police they heard a low growl followed by a baby’s cry shortly before Lindy — who had been making dinner at a nearby barbecue area — went to check on her daughter.

Lindy said she saw a dingo run from the tent and disappear into the darkness. There were dingo prints outside the tent, and spots of blood on the bedding inside. Upon seeing Azaria’s empty bassinet, Lindy screamed, “The dingo’s got my baby!” — a line made famous by the Meryl Streep movie, “A Cry in the Dark,” based on the case.

Azaria’s body was never found, though her torn and bloodied jumpsuit turned up in the surrounding desert.  (read more)

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12 Responses to New Australian Coroner’s inquest may finally prove once and for all that Dingoes did, in fact, eat her baby

    • G8rmom7 says:

      ONE OF MY FAVORITE LINES EVAR on this show. My favorite thing is the satisfied look she gives after she says it. My oldest daughter was named after this character, btw.

      Like

  1. tnwahm says:

    I’ve wondered about that Seinfeld clip. I never understood what the deal was.

    Like

  2. Aussie says:

    The Azaria Chamberlain case is extremely controversial, and I might add that it split the nation in half at the time that Azaria disappeared. For the record, I belong to the camp that has always accepted that the dingo took the baby. Anyone who had read the novel “Dusty” should have had some inkling about dingoes and their savagery.

    The controversy surrounds the fact that the first inquest stated that the dingo took the baby, but the police did not accept the inquest finding. They thought that the Chamberlains had killed their baby. Therefore, based upon rumours, the police seized the Chamberlain car as well as other items. The pathologist in the laboratory actually thought that what was really sound deadener was blood. As a result of her findings Lindy Chamberlain was charged and convicted of the murder of her child. The Chamberlains had their supporters, and one of them was a professor in pathology who pointed out that the test materials were tainted. The jury was not listening to the defense because those doubts always existed. They found Lindy guilty based upon their own biases. They even refused to listen properly to the witnesses at the camp site…. and I had been in contact with one of the witnesses but her testimony was ignored.

    In the end, a baby’s jacket was found, and it was this jacket that led to the conviction of the Chamberlains being quashed.

    They deserve to have the baby death certificate state that the baby was taken by a dingo.

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    • I agree, Aussie, and I always thought it odd that there was so much skepticism about their story. Of course it could happen. We live in an area where people have to be educated by wildlife experts about the dangers of wild dogs (coyotes or feral dogs), and they routinely lose their pets to them. Small children have been taken by cougars, so folks are aware of that, but they don’t realize that even the coyotes would do it if they got the chance. I hope this gives the family some peace.

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      • Aussie says:

        If you think of a dingo in the same way as a wild dog then you know the risks that were being taken.

        At the time there were people claiming that a dingo could not harm a child.

        You just have no idea about the uproar!!

        And I stood by my own conclusion that the Chamberlains were telling the truth.

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        • Good for you. We had a somewhat similar case here in Boulder, Colorado years ago when JonBenet Ramsey was murdered in her basement on Christmas Eve. Evidence pointed to an intruder, and that included foreign DNA on her body, and independent investigators were so sure that there was an intruder, some spent their own time trying to prove it. But the Boulder police were convinced from the moment they came on the scene that Patsy Ramsey, the mother, couldn’t be trusted, and the DA latched on certain anomalies in the case to attempt to convict her, absurdly, of killing her own child. Sad story.

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          • Aussie says:

            Yes, I have been following the JonBonnet Ramsey case. I thought that they were claiming that the father had been up to no good, which was the reason that they believed that Patsy Ramsey had killed her own daughter.

            Either way it was really sloppy police work. It reminds me of the dreadfully sloppy police work in West Australia where few crimes, and specifically murders are ever resolved.

            In fact there is one case that is very close to my heart. It has not been resolved. The boy was kidnapped off the street, he was raped and murdered at the age of 12. He is the little Ross boy and at one point the family were our next door neighbours. My last contact with the boy was when I was saying good-bye and gave him a jumper to wear. The family had emigrated from Scotland.

            Last year I wrote about the case when another case in Queensland was being resolved. I got a surprise email from someone who was on the scene. He said that he thinks he knows who might be the killer and that the man was still at large. He gave me details that only a person who had been close to the case would know. Think along the lines of the girl who was abducted and found all those years later, and all those cases where there are hidden rooms…..

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            • So sorry to hear that you were closely involved in such a tragedy, and such a tragedy for the family. I am convinced that police departments and agencies are run very carelessly unless there are people with great integrity in charge, and those are rare instances. So often there is pressure to close cases the easy way by going after family or innocent bystanders. And internal pressure to tolerate thugs on the force is really hard to fix.

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              • Aussie says:

                the shock came when we first learned it was Gerard Ross who had been killed. My sons knew their surname and recognized them. By the time the murder had taken place we have moved from Canberra to Sydney and they had ended up in West Australia. They were on holiday when Gerard disappeared and was murdered.

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