Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A Cry In The Night Part 1 Of 3

By Light of Day

Inspector Gilroy arrived at Ayers Rock with Sergeant Lincoln. They immediately drove with Constable Morris to the camping ground. Along the way, Morris explained the series of events of the previous night. It was a long and complicated story made harder to communicate by the fact that Morris had not taken notes at the time.

Morris walked Inspector Gilroy around the camping ground, pointing out the barbecue area where the Chamberlains had eaten. Outside the yellow and green tent, Morris showed Gilmore the track of dingo prints, which ran along the length of the tent. Something else took Gilmore's eye. On the sidewall was a stain no more than a hand span from the ground. On closer inspection, he saw the shape of a spray, the colour of blood. Again no photos were taken.

The Aboriginal trackers, who had resumed their search at dawn, returned to the camping ground. Their leader, Winmatti, an elderly man from the Pitjantjatjara tribe, described the day's events to Gilroy. Squatting down, he smoothed out the sand with a rough hand, drawing a simple map of the area as he talked.

He described how he and the other trackers, Barbara, Daisy Walkabout, Kitty Collins and Nuwe Minyintiri met at dawn there at the campsite. They began tracking the dingo at the ridge where the depression, probably made by the baby's arm or leg, was found the night before. As the trail climbed, it was lost and found again many times on the way up. It wasn't until they reached the very top, around some water tanks where the ground was much clearer, that they realised they had mistaken the tracks of the original beast for those of another.

They returned to the campsite to reinspect the tracks of the first dingo. Looking more closely they saw that this dingo was large. One front paw didn't touch the ground as heavily as the other, suggesting an old injury. They traced its tracks through many changes of direction, which shows its cunning spirit. It took them up the dune, beyond the marks of the baby, along the ridge and down again. From there, it traveled over the plain in a wide sweep, so it could easily see if anyone was following, toward the area known as Maggie Spring. He had moved out onto the roadway fast. Occasionally, he moved from the road and back into the scrub, probably to avoid passing cars. Soon his tracks were lost, blown away by the wind created by passing traffic.

Inspector Gilroy and Sergeant Lincoln knocked on the door of the Chamberlains' motel unit. Lindy answered the door and let them in. As Lincoln prepared the tape recorder, Gilroy introduced himself and explained that he needed her to run through the previous night's events. Lindy told him what happened. Like Morris, Inspector Gilroy found it difficult to understand whether or not there was anything in the dingo's mouth at the time. Lindy explained that she was unable to see whether there was anything in its mouth because its head was in shadow, so she couldn't say that it did or didn't.

Lincoln, too, was perplexed by this and wanted to know more details of the baby's size and weight. Lindy said that Azaria had been weighed nearly two weeks before they had left Mt. Iza, at just under 10 pounds. She would easily have been ten pounds by then, plus the weight of the clothes she was wearing — a jumpsuit, disposable nappy, singlet, booties and matinee jacket. Michael soon returned to the room and was included in the questioning, as he had not actually seen the dingo at the tent, he was unable to help clarify the details. Unfortunately, neither of the Chamberlains mentioned the Lowes or other witnesses to the event, a fact that would seriously cloud police perception of the case.

With no more questions, Gilroy and Lincoln left the Chamberlains. As they walked back to their vehicle, Lincoln expressed grave doubts about the dingo story. He suspected foul play from the start. Gilroy did not agree with his strong beliefs, putting them down to Lincoln's past experience as a city crime investigator on a number of unusual cases.

Lincoln expressed his theories more vehemently later that night at the local hotel where he discussed the case with Gilmore, Morris and De Luca, a reporter from Adelaide who had flown up that morning to interview the Chamberlains. Lincoln went so far as to fill a bucket with sand and attempted to carry it with his teeth. When he and the rest of the party were unable to do so for more than a minute, he felt himself and his theories to be justified.

This would be the first of many similar scenes around Australia as people argued the merits of the case. As news of the tragedy spread, so too did the rumours and innuendo. Many police involved in the case, most reporters and a growing segment of the Australian public could not believe that such a dreadful thing could have occurred. Dingoes just didn't do that sort of thing. There was something not quite right about this story. Most suspected foul play, and inventions as to the real story behind Azaria's disappearance were prolific and imaginative, rarely based on facts.



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