Mother of baby lost in Aussie Outback 30 years ago wants death certificate to blame dingo

By Tanalee Smith, AP
Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mother renews plea to name dingo as baby’s killer

ADELAIDE, Australia — The mother wrongly convicted of murdering her infant after the baby infamously disappeared in the Australian Outback 30 years ago has pleaded for her daughter’s death certificate to state that a dingo was responsible.

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton published an open letter on her website Tuesday — the 30th anniversary of the disappearance of her daughter while the family camped near Uluru, the red monolith in the remote Outback.

“Our family will always remember today as the day truth was dragged in the dirt and trampled upon,” she wrote. “But more than that it is the day our family was torn apart forever because we lost our beautiful little Azaria.”

The case is one of Australia’s most enduring mysteries and became international with the 1988 film “A Cry in the Dark” — for which Meryl Streep earned an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Lindy Chamberlain.

A coroner initially found that a dingo, a type of wild dog, had taken the 9-week-old baby, but that ruling was overturned and her mother was charged with her murder.

Chamberlain-Creighton was convicted in 1982 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Her husband, Michael, was convicted of being an accessory after the fact, with a deferred sentence. Four years later, the mother was released when a piece of Azaria’s clothing was found, supporting her claim that the baby was taken by a dingo.

A Royal Commission exonerated the Chamberlains in 1987, but another coroner’s inquest in 1995 was unable to make an official conclusion on what had happened to Azaria Chamberlain, leaving the cause of death open.

“She deserves justice,” she wrote. “In light of all the evidence before the Commission, this should be reflected on her death certificate and not the open finding that is there now. … It makes one wonder are they really after the truth, or just too stubborn or proud to admit that a mistake has been made?”

Also this week, Michael Chamberlain began legal proceedings to quash the open death verdict.

In response, Delia Lawrie, the attorney-general of the Northern Territory said in a statement Tuesday that she had asked the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages to look into whether the cause of death on the certificate is accurate, “taking into account the most reliable information that is available.”

Chamberlain always maintained she saw a dingo slinking from the tent into the dark before she discovered Azaria missing. But she could not see what was in its mouth.

In her lengthy letter, addressed to “open-minded Australians,” Chamberlain-Creighton said she had forgiven all of those involved in “creating the fiasco of the last 30 years and the public so willing to believe the worst and spread nasty rumors.”

Barbara Tjikatu, a traditional owner of Uluru, which is also known as Ayers Rock, and the only surviving Aboriginal tracker who searched for Azaria the night she disappeared, told Ten Network television news on Tuesday that she had no doubt that a dingo took the baby.

Tjikatu said in her Aboriginal dialect that she saw dingo tracks outside the family’s tent leading away over a sand dune and saw Chamberlain-Creighton crying for her missing daughter.


Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton:

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