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.