explainer

What happened to Jim and Nancy Beaumont after their three children never came home.

Now in their 90s, Jim and Nancy Beaumont have lived the majority of their lives under the shadow of the disappearance of their three children.

The Beaumont children – Jane, nine, Arnna, seven, and Grant, four – left their family home on the morning of Australia Day, 1966, to go to Glenelg Beach, which was a five minute bus journey away. Their mother, Nancy, expected them home around noon, and wasn’t worried at first when they didn’t return. She assumed they’d get on the next bus, at 2pm. But when Jim arrived home at 3pm, there was still no sign of the children. At 5pm, they were reported missing.

While police initially assumed Jane, Arnna and Grant had simply lost track of time, within 24 hours, the case had been reported Australia-wide, and concerns were growing for the well being of the three small children from South Australia.

From a number of witness reports, police were able to piece together the last known movements of the Beaumont children. They had been seen at Colley Reserve, near the beach, playing with a tall, blond man who appeared to be in his 30s. Around noon, the children went to nearby Wenzel’s Bakery, where they typically bought their lunch after the beach. The eldest, Jane, purchased pasties for herself and her siblings, as well as a meat pie, using a £1 note.

Nancy, however, had never given Jane a £1 note. She had handed her daughter 6 shillings that morning – enough for the children’s bus rides and their lunch. This £1 note, as well as the meat pie (which Jane and her siblings didn’t normally order), were interpreted by police as a sign that the unidentified man was still with the Beaumonts at lunch time.

While there were other possible sightings of the three children on the afternoon and evening of Australia Day, they weren’t entirely reliable.

Together, the kids had been carrying 17 items, including clothing, towels and a bag – none of which were ever recovered.

When two days went by without her children returning home, Nancy Beaumont was placed under sedation by a doctor. Friends and family gathered at the Beaumont home, and a telephone was installed to receive updates from Glenelg Police Station.

The three Beaumont children. Image supplied.
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Once five days went past, Jim Beaumont appealed for the return of his children on national television. Addressing the cameras, he broke down after expressing his hope that whoever had his children would soon return them.

As the search for their children continued in the following weeks and months, Nancy and Jim retreated from the public eye. They stopped fronting the media and they stopped participating in interviews.

What ensued over the years were countless false leads, conspiracy theories and hoaxes. Ultimately, every search over the last five decades has been fruitless. No trace of the Beaumont children has ever been found.

In the early 1970s, Nancy and Jim Beaumont separated. In recent years, they've sold their Harding Street home - the one they had hoped their children would one day return to.

In 1990, a number of Australian newspapers published computer-generated images of what Jane, Arnna and Grant would look like now. It was reported that Nancy Beaumont refused to look at them, and that both parents were devastated by their release.

Earlier this year, detectives, forensic specialists and SES volunteers followed a fresh lead by searching the New Castalloy factory in North Plympton for the remains of the Beaumont children. The dig, however, found only animal bones, and no clues related to the 1966 case.

On February 2, chief superintendent Des Bray confirmed, "there has been nothing human located on the site".

"Sadly, this means for the Beaumont family that we still have no answers," he said.

At the time, Alan Whiticker, who co-authored the book The Satin Man: Uncovering the mystery of the missing Beaumont children, said Jim and Nancy Beaumont will "never come forward" again to the media.

“They will never come forward because Mrs Beaumont is not well, but if something happened and it’s finally solved, Mr Beaumont would make a statement," he told The New Daily.

"But never on camera again."

Now 90 and 92 respectively, Nancy and Jim Beaumont are said to have accepted that the truth of what happened to Jane, Arnna and Grant might never be uncovered, and that they may themselves die without knowing what became of their children.

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