Feature

Australia: Unjustly suspected for decades

Despite two subsequent inquests, the courts have never definitively stated that the baby was killed by dingoes, rather than by her unfairly maligned mother, said Andrew Rule at the Herald Sun.

Andrew RuleHerald Sun

“Let’s get this clear once and for all: The dingo did it,” said Andrew Rule. For more than 30 years a cloud of suspicion has hung over Lindy Chamberlain and her former husband, Michael, who reported that a wild dog snatched their 9-week-old baby, Azaria, from a tent when they were camping in the Northern Territory in 1980. The baby’s body wasn’t found, and the coroner initially ruled the case a dingo attack. But prosecutors rejected that ruling and went after the parents, largely, it seems, because their grief was not ostentatious enough. Much was made of the Chamberlains’ beliefs as Seventh-day Adventists, and the media labeled them cult followers in “an Aussie version of the Salem witch hunts.”

Lindy went to prison, but was ultimately freed after her daughter’s clothing was found, six years later, in a dingo’s lair. Yet despite two subsequent inquests, the courts have never definitively stated that Azaria was killed by dingoes, rather than by her unfairly maligned mother. Could that be because “killer dingoes” are seen as worse for tourism than “backpacker murderers” are? A final inquest, next month, will hear the evidence that has been denied for so long—that dingoes do attack people, and have, in fact, killed children. Hopefully, at long last, the Chamberlains will be exonerated.

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