Lindy Chamberlain did not grieve the way the world wanted her to.
When her nine-week-old daughter, Azaria, disappeared from a camping trip in Uluru in 1980, the 32-year-old mother didn’t cry enough for some people’s liking.
As writer Bec Sparrow put it: “She was too serious. Too stoic. Heartless. Where were her tears? Where was her grief? How could she be so together? She was the mother for god’s sake.”
Many refused to believe a dingo was responsible for Azaria’s disappearance, as Lindy had claimed. They took one look at her calm, emotionless exterior, and concluded that she had something to do with it.
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We all know what happened next.
After an initial inquest supported Chamberlain’s version of events, further investigations led to a second hearing… which resulted in Chamberlain being charged with murder.
Rather than dying at a dingo’s hands, prosecutors alleged Chamberlain had slit her own baby daughter’s throat with a pair of nail scissors in the family car – and the jury agreed.
In October 1992, Chamberlain was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Her husband, Michael, was convicted of being an accessory after the fact and given a suspended sentence.
It was four years before she was exonerated. Before the discovery of Azaria’s jacket in an area full of dingo lairs set the wheels in motion for her release. Before forensic evidence – traces of residue found in the Chamberlain’s car that had been identified as Azaria’s blood – turned out to be sucrose, likely from the spill of an old milkshake.
While the case became one of Australia’s most notorious miscarriages of justice, the spotlight of suspicion that had shone on Lindy for so many years, is now shining on another mother: Kate McCann.
In May 2007, the lives of Kate and her husband Gerry McCann were similarly changed forever, when their three-year-old daughter Madeleine went missing from their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal.