Episode Fifteen: Lindy Chamberlain
On August 17 1980, 9-week-old Azaria Chamberlain disappeared while on a camping trip with her parents, Lindy and Michael, and her two older brothers. Lindy and Michael claimed she was taken from the family tent by a dingo. Azara's body was never found.
Rumor and suspicion grew quickly around the case, fueled by a lack of understanding of the Chamberlains' Seventh Day Adventist faith and a perception that Lindy Chamberlain was not behaving as a grieving mother should. The initial coronial inquest supported the Chamberlains' claim. Investigations continued however, and a second inquest was held which led to the Chamberlains being charged with Azaria's murder. In October 1982, Lindy was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Michael was convicted as an accessory after the fact and given a suspended sentence. The chance discovery in 1986 of Azaria's missing matinee jacket at the base of Uluru, in an area full of dingo lairs, led to Lindy's immediate release from prison. A royal commission was set up in 1987 and the following year the convictions against Lindy and Michael Chamberlain were overturned. A third inquest held in 1995 recorded an open finding and listed the cause of Azaria's death as 'unknown'. For the fourth inquest in 2012 the Chamberlains hope to have the official cause of death revised.
The Chamberlain trial was the most publicized in Australian history and is now held up as an example of how the media can adversely affect legal proceedings.
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