Rumors and Facts

There were a great many rumours that surrounded the Chamberlains, some of which refuse to go away, long after the Royal Commission showed what the truth was. I am only going to put the major ones here; those that seem to persist to this day. This page could be filled with lots of writing, but we will merely state the facts, and in some cases point to where you can find more information.

The name Azaria meant “Sacrifice in the Wilderness”

The book 1001 Unusual Baby Names in which Lindy found the name identified it as meaning “Blessed of God”, and a feminine form of Azariah, an Old Testament name. The coroner in the First Inquest (you may listen to the finding under the ‘recordings’ section) took extra effort to dispel this rumour, but it seems to hang around.

In the current book the complete book of baby names (Bruce Lansky 2003, Hinkler Books Pty. Ltd. Australia) Azaria is said to mean “helped by God”. Either way you translate the old Hebrew it comes nowhere near the rumour.

They always dressed Azaria in black

On the images page you will find a photograph of a frilly little black dress, trimmed with red ribbon to match the red booties, as well as photographs of other clothing that Azaria wore. Lindy likes strong colours and wears them herself. The black dress was actually made for Reagan when he was a baby, and Azaria had inherited it. Not finding her style appealing to you is not proof of murder!

The car was awash in blood

For all the substances that were identified (incorrectly, as was later proven) as baby blood, it was still less than one-tenth of the proven blood which was inside or on the tent that Azaria had been sleeping in. The “blood” in the car and camera bag turned out to be sound deadener, milkshake, and copper dust (the Chamberlains lived in Mt. Isa, which is a copper mining town). The reason that they were said to be blood is because they had reacted positively to a reagent which is intended to be used as a tool to narrow the search to possible substances, requiring further testing. But the test was taken as proof that the substances were blood, not at all in line with the intention of the manufacturer Behringwerke, as highlighted in their letter. (pdf, 170 kb)

Azaria’s clothing was found folded

The testimony of Wally Goodwin, the tourist from Victoria who found the clothing a week after Azaria disappeared, the clothing was found scattered, and the jumpsuit was ‘concertinaed’, or scrunched up in a top to bottom manner. Wanting to be very careful not disturb anything, his first thought was to notify the rangers. Even though he had a camera with him – he was an avid birdwatcher and photographer – he was so concerned that he did not disturb the site, that he did not photograph the clothing. Instead, he called the police.

The constable who returned with him to the site where the clothing was found then reached inside the jumpsuit (presumably to check for any remains), held it up, and handled the rest of the clothing. (The knitted matinee jacket was not among the clothing found that day; it was found five and a half years later, about 153 metres away from where the rest of the clothing was found, back in the direction of the camping area.) After the Constable finished inspecting the clothing, he attempted to lay it out on the ground in a similar manner to how it had been found. Then he photographed it. It was the manner in which it lay as photographed that seems to have caused the rumour, as it appeared too neat and tidy.

Incidentally, in the experiments done with dingoes, as well as domestic dogs, the scientists found that the clothing was always left by the animals as Wally Goodwin had described finding them at Ayers Rock – concertinaed. They were never able to make it look the same by trying to copy it themselves, no matter how hard they tried.

It has also been said that the clothing was found under a rock. There was no rock on top of the clothing, although the clothing was found at the base of (under) Ayers Rock, and a large boulder, because of its shape, hung partially above the clothing. This form of the rumour may have just been a misunderstanding of the meaning under – the English language can be like that – or it may have been more sinister.

Lindy had done a thesis on dingoes

This rumour had its basis in the very first magazine interview that Lindy did, in October 1980. She had agreed to do it because the interviewer had said, “You want people to know the truth, don’t you? You don’t want this to happen to another child.” The journalist later testified in court that the printed article was not the same as the one she wrote – that it had been changed after she wrote it, and had left for holidays. It certainly had a number of errors in it.

In her pre-teen years Lindy had been a member of a church club called ‘Pathfinders’, very similar to Boy Scouts or Girl Guides. Amongst the badge honours she had done was one on dogs. After discussing the various domestic dogs, she was then required to name and discuss five wild members of the canine family. The Australian dingo was one of the five she chose, and the topic was just a paragraph. It is an indicator of the unbalanced judgment applied to the Chamberlains that this was labelled a ‘thesis’; in one book, printed after Lindy was jailed, it was said to have been a thesis for her college education.

One caller to a live television program in 2004 asked, “If you know so much about dingoes, how come you didn’t zip up the tent that night?” (Answer: She was going back to the tent to go to bed herself as soon as she gave Aidan the can of beans to eat, and didn’t realise there was any danger in not zipping it up.) Lindy is now very well informed about dingo behaviour, but it has come at an extremely high price.

The Chamberlains had underlined a story in their Bible in which a woman kills a man by driving a tent peg through his head

The Bible in question is one of those very large, heavy, late 19th century family Bibles, which had been handed down through Lindy’s family. It had several black and white etchings in it. Because of the age, some of the etchings had transferred a slight image to the page of writing that it closed against. Since the edge of the etching was square, one could possibly think that the text had been underlined. Only problem was, the etching had made a sort of dark boxy mark like a shadow over the text, but it did not line up like underlining in any place, and certainly not in red, as described in a “tell-all” book that came out while Lindy was still in jail.

During the Royal Commission the only member of the party who raided the Chamberlain’s house during ‘Operation Ochre’, who had seen the Bible, was chastised for having spread the rumour. Clearly the police did not think it of great significance, for they did not seize the Bible even though they took many things from the house that had not even been out to the Rock with the Chamberlains.

The dingo which took Azaria was a semi-domestic dingo, and was the pet of a Ranger at the Rock

In the early stages it appeared possible that it might have been a Ranger’s dingo, especially when the Aboriginal tracker, Nipper, referred to all dingoes as ding, which was also the name of the Ranger’s dingo. However, the misconception was totally cleared up at the Royal Commission. If one looks only at the original statements, without reading all evidence now available, one could draw the wrong conclusion. By putting the early statements together with the Royal Commission (which could look at any and all evidence, and which purpose was to discover the truth, not convince a jury) then it is impossible to conclude that the Ranger’s dingo was the culprit dingo. Nipper specifically said that the Ranger’s dingo had been shot some weeks earlier, and was not the culprit.

It would be far too easy to pursue another person to take the focus off of Lindy. But after all that she has been through, she knows very well that you must look at all of the evidence, for no one else should have to go through the lies and hatred she has experienced.

That death of her baby and trauma of the case caused Lindy’s divorce

Lindy has stated publicly that the reasons for her divorce existed before the loss of Azaria. The fight to clear their names kept Lindy and Michael together, fighting for a common cause.

Whether they were best friends or not, Lindy did not wish to be divorced, but she felt compelled to do so for the sake of her children. She believes that anyone, and anything, can be forgiven and does not wish any individual ill. She feels that nothing good can come of speaking about the details publicly, but no-one who is fully aware of the reasons for her divorce find fault with her choice, even those with the most stringent religious views. Today, we are a very close knit unit and I am proud to count Aidan, Reagan, & Kahlia as family and best friends.

That someone had killed the dingo which had taken Azaria, later putting her clothing near a dingo lair

At first glance it fits the hypothesis put forward by Denis Barritt, coroner at the First Inquest, who said he thought that after Azaria had been taken, the clothes had been interfered with by “person or persons unknown”.

One ‘person’ in question went public in July 2004. He had told his story to media persons in 2000, to myself in November 2003, and to the Through My Eyes mini-series research team in January 2004. In his statement to us he stated that he had kept the ribbons from the matinee jacket (the jacket was found five-and-a-half years after Azaria’s disappearance) as proof that he was telling the truth. Trouble was, there were no ribbons in any of the clothing Azaria wore that night. His description to us of Azaria’s wounds did not fit the evidence of the clothing which was found. He also told us that the friends with him on that night had trouble undoing the jumpsuit buttons, so had cut them off. But, the jumpsuit had no buttons, only press studs (snaps), and anyhow, it was not damaged around them. The matinee jacket did have buttons, but when it was found years later, its buttons were found with it.

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