A coroner on Tuesday issued a ruling on her findings, ending a 32-year-old mystery over a “Dingo Ate My Baby” case that grabbed international headlines and was made into a movie starring Meryl Streep.
In August 1980, the Chamberlain family had been camping near Uluru, Australia (also known as Ayers Rock), when the mother, Lindy claimed a dingo, which is an Australian wild dog, took her 9-week-old baby, Azaria. The mother and father’s story had immediately been met with skepticism.
After an original inquest had supported the parent’s claims, a second one a year later found they needed to stand trial. Both Lindy and her husband, Michael was accused and found guilty of murder, though they continued to maintain their innocence and the dingo story. Lindy ended up spending 3 years in prison and Michael served a suspended sentence for being an accessory.
Then in 1987, still trying to clear their name the Chamberlain’s were exonerated, though a body was never found and recovered in the case, with no cause of death ever being determined, which had still caused skepticism over the Chamberlains story. In1995, another inquest returned the case back to an open verdict.
That all changed on Tuesday with the Chamberlains feeling that their 32 year legal battle to clear their name was finally over, when a Northern Territory coroner told a packed courtroom that a dingo or pack of dingos took Azaria Chamberlain from a campground, and listed it as the cause of death on the death certificate for Azaria.
“The cause of her death was as the result of being attacked and taken by a dingo,” Elizabeth Morris, coroner for Northern Territory, announced to Darwin Magistrates court early Tuesday. “Dingos can and do cause harm to humans.”
Morris indicated that she had found evidence backing up the Chamberlain’s claims and ruled that the certificate should read, “attacked and taken by a dingo.”
Morris cited that since the 1980 incident there have been several documented reports of dingo attacks on humans, including one where a nine-year-old boy was killed in 2001.