The tragic case of baby Azaria Chamberlain finally has something approaching closure after a coroner in Darwin, Australia ruled a wild dingo had indeed killed the little girl. The ruling exonerates Azaria's mother, Lindy.
Camping in the Aussie outback in 1980, Lindy Chamberlain saw the dingo run from the family tent with her daughter and screamed "a dingo's got my baby." Despite other campers hearing a dingo's growl, a dingo's paw print being on the flap of the tent, canine hairs being found inside the tent and drag marks discovered in the sand outside, two years later Lindy was convicted of the child's death.
Lindy Chamberlain: jailed for death of baby
Chamberlain, now Chamberlain-Creighton, spent three years in a prison but continued to fight to clear her name. Other cases came in which dingos attacked children, one killed a 9-year-old boy, but still many in the country felt Lindy Chamberlain was guilty. Part of the reasons, observers say, was the family's belief system, they were Seventh Day Adventists and the public was suspicious of a religion they did not understand.
Joining with her in the Darwin courtroom to receive the ruling was her now ex-husband, Michael, convicted of being an accessory to the fact in the case but who'd drawn only a suspended sentence, and their son, Aidan. The three hugged and Michael addressed the throng of well-wishers and media, speaking of justice having finally been served.
"I am here to tell you that you can get justice even when you think that all is lost," he told the crowd outside the courtroom. His nearby son, now 38, was just 6-years-old on the night that he lost his sister forever.
Wild Dingo Story part of Australia
The story has been a part of Australia since the night on August 17th, 1980 in the Uluru campsite when Azaria disappeared. The evidence against Lindy was never compelling, and some, like the 'bloody' outline of a baby's hand on a jumpsuit (never tested, could have been baby food) and the accusation of blood in the car (proven to be false) was unsubstantiated.
While stage plays and movies were made, the most famous being 1988's A Cry in the Dark with Meryl Streep and Sam Neill, the Chamberlains, as a couple and after their divorce, worked to prove their innocence. They've gone through many stages and trials - and been compensated for their convictions - but this latest ruling makes it official: a wild dingo stole into their tent and took away their baby daughter.
Azaria's body was never recovered.