"A dingo's got my baby!"
It's a punchline you probably remember hearing before you knew exactly what a dingo was. But this is what actually happened: A nine-week-old Australian baby disappeared on a family camping trip in 1980. Her body was never found. Her mommy, Lindy Chamberlain, claimed to have seen a wild Australian dog, known as a "dingo," take her baby from her tent.
In 1982, Lindy Chamberlain sentenced to life in prison for murdering her baby, but four years later, that verdict was overturned and Chamberlain was set free. However, it was never officially determined how her baby died, until today.
It seems a dingo did, in fact, take her baby. "[T]he coroner in the fourth inquest into her death announced on Tuesday that the baby died as a result of being taken by a dingo," James Gorman reported in The New York Times.
The coroner, Elizabeth Morris, with tears in her eyes, addressed the Chamberlain family in a courtroom in Darwin, Australia.
“Please accept my sincere sympathies on the death of your special daughter,” Ms. Morris said. “I am so sorry. Time does not remove the pain and sadness of the death of a child.”
She said of Azaria, “The cause of her death was the result of being taken by a dingo.”
In an atmosphere of hatred and hullabaloo, some of it stirred up by big-city animal lovers who view the dingo as a cute canine rather than -- as Australia's leading expert on the animal advises -- a predator, Mrs. Chamberlain is eventually put on trial, accused of slitting her baby's throat with a scissors and hiding the body in the trunk of her car until she could dispose of it. During the trial, the Government relies on forensic experts whose work is slipshod at best, dishonest at worst.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.