- (Photo: Twitter/AmyBethCombs)
An Australian high court is holding the fourth investigation into the disappearance of 9-week-old Azaria Chamberlain, whose parents allege she was killed by a dingo.
Little Azaria was camping with parents Michael and Lindy when she disappeared. Her parents immediately told officials that a dingo had entered the camp and stolen the child, killing her immediately. The story became infamous and the Chamberlains have been under intense scrutiny since 1980, when Azaria went missing.
Lindy Chamberlain, Azaria's mother, was convicted of murdering the child in 1982. Prosecutors argued that they had found clothing and blood, which led them to charge Lindy; they alleged that she had killed her daughter in the family's car, where they found the blood.
Lindy and Michael both maintained their innocence, and in 1986 Lindy was freed due to new evidence. DNA evidence proved that the mixture of so-called blood found in the car was actually a mixture of milk and a chemical used during production of the car. The courts freed Lindy and overturned the conviction in 1988.
Yet it was not enough to free her from public scrutiny.
Filmmakers produced a movie based on the Chamberlains' account of Azaria's disappearance. It was released in 1988 under the title "Evil Angels" but the title was changed to "A Cry in the Dark" here in America.
The film featured Meryl Streep as Lindy and gave the public the famous cry, "The dingo's got my baby!"
Since then, Lindy and Michael have worked to prove their innocence and end all speculation once and for all. This new hearing is the fourth since 1980; the Chamberlains claim they have new insight and evidence about the prevalence of dingo attacks. This time they have more people on their side.
Rex Wild, an assistant to coroner Elizabeth Morris, told the court: "Although [a dingo killing a child] may have been regarded as unlikely in 1980 … it shouldn't be by 2011-12. With the additional evidence in my submission, your honor should accept on the balance of probabilities that the dingo theory is the correct one."
Lindy spoke to reporters outside the courthouse.
"It gives me hope this time that Australians will finally be warned and realize that dingoes are a dangerous animal. I also hope that this will give a final finding which closes the inquest into my daughter's death, which so far has been standing open and unfinished."
The new information being presented includes statistics gathered by the Queensland Government's Department of Environment and Resource Management, or DERM. There have been 98 "dangerous dingo attacks" since 2002, according to DERM.
In 2001, a 9-year-old boy was mauled to death by dingoes.
"I have spent a lot of time in the brush during the last 25 years working with dingoes … People can be very complacent with dingoes because people are used to dogs. Dingoes are closer to wolves than dogs," Dr. David Jenkins, a dingo expert at Charles Sturt University, told the BBC.
Father Michael broke his silence and spoke with reporters.
"Since the loss of Azaria, I have had an abiding fear and paranoia about safety around dingoes. They send a shudder up my spine. It is a hell I have to endure," said the man.