Unspeakable Crimes The Strange Case Of Lindy Chamberlain, Who Did Three Years' Hard Time After A Dingo Ate Her Baby  

Cheryl Adams Richkoff
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You've likely heard the phrase, "A dingo ate my baby!" Since the film A Cry In The Dark was released in 1988, it's been referenced in dozens of sitcoms and reality shows over the years, but the true story behind it is incredibly tragic. The story of the death of Azaria Chamberlain begins in August 1980, when a young Australian family lost their infant daughter during a camping trip. The Azaria Chamberlain death story gripped the world, as the public watched the Chamberlains endure a trial by media and saw the mother, Lindy Chamberlain, sent to prison for killing her child. But Lindy and her husband, Michael, knew the truth about Azaria's death: she was taken from their tent and killed by a dingo, a type of wild dog.

Lindy's claim seemed too absurd to be true. In 1980, there were no documented cases of dingoes attacking or killing humans, even small children. But over the years, some similar cases came to light, helping to vindicate the Chamberlain family and move them toward closure. The Lindy Chamberlain case lasted a total of 32 years.

The Baby Disappeared From Her Parents' Tent


The Baby Disappeared From Her ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Strange Case Of Lindy Chamberlain, Who Did Three Years' Hard Time After A Dingo Ate Her Baby
Photo:  The New York Times/via YouTube

In 1980, Australian couple Lindy and Michael Chamberlain had two little boys and a new baby girl, Azaria. They were a quiet, religious family, belonging to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. In August, the family decided to take a camping trip to central Australia, around the famed Uluru rock. The late winter weather made it a perfect time to camp in the usually hot Northern Territory.

On the night of August 17, nine-week-old Azaria disappeared from her parent's tent. Her panicked parents notified authorities and extensive searches were carried out, but they yielded no clues. Her mother told the police she believed a dingo had taken the child, claiming she had seen the wild dog enter the tent and take the baby away.

Bloodstained Clothes Were Found Nearby


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Photo: Mark Andrews/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0

A week after Azaria vanished, a tourist named Wallace Goodwin made a grisly discovery. He found a bloodstained jumpsuit, singlet, booties, and diaper a short distance away from where the baby had disappeared.

The Child's Father, Michal Chamberlain, Was Surprisingly Relaxed After The Attack


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Photo:  Four Corners: The Chamberlains' Story/ABC/Fair Use

Following the attack, a chain of almost 300 people was formed in order to search the surrounding area for a trace of the baby's whereabouts. Lindy Chamberlain helped to lead that chain, and was frantically searching for her missing child. Her husband, however, was all too calm following the assault.

Michael Chamberlain spoke to a fellow tripper, and stated, "She's probably dead now." He followed this up by affirming he was a "minister of the gospel," as he avoided aiding in the investigation. His (and his wife's) relaxed demeanor would also be examined later, as individuals sought for any spark of evidence that would dilute and ultimately disprove the couple's unbelievable story.

An Inquest Suggested Foul Play


An Inquest Suggested Foul Play is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Strange Case Of Lindy Chamberlain, Who Did Three Years' Hard Time After A Dingo Ate Her Baby
Photo: Rodrick D Watkins/via YouTube

Initially, the coroner agreed with the Chamberlains: he concluded that a wild dog took baby Azaria. However, he did think the infant's bloody clothing showed signs of interference by "person or persons unknown."

In September 1981, a second inquest was opened. Investigators claimed to have discovered suspicious markings on the baby's jumpsuit. Supposedly, an incised wound around the garment's neck suggested the child's throat had been cut. Investigators also argued that in ultraviolet photographs of the same garment, the image of a small, adult hand appeared. Based on these and other findings, both Chamberlains were arrested and charged with Azaria's murder in February 1982.