Thirty years after the first report of a Dingo killing the child of a family camping in Australia, the case was re-opened in February of this year. A few months later, and an Australian court has ruled that a dingo was truly responsible for the death of 9-week-old Azaria Chamberlain.
The case sparked a media frenzy in 1980 because no one truly believed the mother’s story that a Dingo took her baby. It spawned the catch phrase “the dingo’s got my baby” in the 1988 true-crime drama A Cry in the Dark. This then spurred more copy-cats and parodies, chief among them, Elaine Benes shouting the phrase in Seinfeld. Family Guy also took from the story in parody.
Azaria’s mother, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, long maintained that a dingo took her baby, even as she was sentenced to life in prison for her daughter’s murder. Witnesses at the scene claim that she repeatedly screamed, “a dingo’s got my baby”.
The original case was appealed by Chamberlain-Creighton, and she was released from prison. But ever since that time, there has always been doubt as to what really happened. But today, standing outside the courtroom where the verdict was read, Chamberlain-Creighton is thrilled to finally put the tragedy to rest. She and her family are “relieved and delighted to come to the end of this saga. No longer will Australia be able to say that dingoes are not dangerous and will only attack if provoked,” she said to CNN
Chamberlain-Creighton spent four years in prison before new evidence was brought forward in the case. In 1986, the baby’s jacket was found half buried near a dingo lair where the family camped. A Royal Commission was set up in Australia to review the evidence, after which the convictions were formally quashed for both the mother and her husband.
The initial investigation drew the conclusion that a dingo was responsible for the girl’s death. The Supreme Court of the Northern Territory in Australia quashed that finding and brought forth a new investigation. This one led to Chamberlain-Creighton’s imprisonment and later release. Another formal investigation in 1995 led to an open verdict. Protecting her and her families name, Chamberlain-Creighton launched a fourth inquest that culminated in today’s verdict. A Dingo did in fact kill her baby.