The dingo really did take the baby.
Thirty-two years after a nine-week-old infant vanished from an Outback campsite in a case that bitterly divided Australians and inspired a Meryl Streep film, the nation overwhelmingly welcomed a ruling that finally closed the mystery.
A coroner in Darwin yesterday concluded that a dingo, or wild dog, had taken Azaria Chamberlain from her parents’ tent near Ayers Rock, the red monolith in the Australian desert now known by its Aboriginal name Uluru.
That is what her parents, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton and Michael Chamberlain, had maintained from the beginning.
The eyes of the parents welled with tears as the findings of the fourth inquest into their daughter’s disappearance were announced, watched by people around Australia on live television.
“We’re relieved and delighted to come to the end of this saga,” a tearful but smiling Chamberlain-Creighton, since divorced and remarried, said outside the court.
The first inquest in 1981 had also blamed a dingo, but a second inquest a year later charged Chamberlain-Creighton with murder and her husband with being an accessory after the fact. She was convicted and served more than three years in prison before that decision was overturned.
A third inquest in 1995 left the cause of death open.
The case became famous internationally through the 1988 movie A Cry in the Dark, in which Streep played the mother.
Coroner Elizabeth Morris said she was “satisfied that the evidence is sufficiently adequate, clear, cogent and exact and that the evidence excludes all other reasonable possibilities.”