Australian Coroner Makes a Ruling in 32-Year-Old Case
Posted: June 12, 2012 1:30 pm
In 1980, an Australian woman who was camping with her family reported to police that a wild dog snatched her infant baby from the tent never to be seen again. On Tuesday, after 32 years and multiple legal proceedings, a coroner ruled that a dingo, a wild dog native to Australia, had indeed caused the death of Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton’s daughter, Azaria.
At the time of the disappearance, there were no other accounts of babies being taken or harmed by dingos, and detectives quickly turned their attention to Azaria’s parents.
CNN reported that Azaria’s body was never found, but her blood-stained clothing and baby blanket were discovered near the campsite one week after her disappearance. Her mother long maintained that a dingo took her baby—a line made famous in the 1988 Meryl Streep film “A Cry in the Dark.”
Although Azaria’s death was initially attributed to a dingo in 1981, the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory refuted the findings and requested a new trial. It was then that the prosecution claimed Chamberlain-Creighton slit Azaria’s throat before she and her husband buried the body near the campsite. Chamberlain-Creighton was convicted of her daughter’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. Her then-husband Michael was given a suspended sentence for being an accessory after the fact.
Four years later, a jacket believed to belong to Azaria was discovered near a dingo lair near the scene of the disappearance. A Royal Commission reviewed the evidence and vacated the Chamberlains’ convictions. In 1995, a third trial into Azaria’s death ended with an open verdict.
The now-divorced couple set out on a fourth inquest earlier this year. Evidence included reports of attacks by dingoes that resulted in the deaths of three children in Australia.
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“The cause of her death was as the result of being attacked and taken by a dingo,” Elizabeth Morris, coroner for Northern Territory, announced to Darwin Magistrates court early Tuesday. “Dingos can and do cause harm to humans.”