Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A Cry In The Night Part 1 Of 3

Nightmare Relived Daily

Lindy and Michael Chamberlain arrived back in Mt. Isa on the evening of 21st August 1980. The township of twenty seven thousand is the home of Mt. Isa Mines Limited where silver, lead, zinc and copper are mined prodigiously. The mine provides the city's most obvious landmark— a cloud of grey smoke billowing, two hundred and seventy metres high, from a concrete staff, which can be seen from anywhere in town.

Michael's work as a minister meant that they moved around frequently, and had not lived a long time in their small home adjoining the Seventh Day Adventist Church allotment.

As they climbed the stairs of their high-set home, they found a large parcel of groceries and a note. It was from Lindy's closest friend, Jenny Richards. She had heard of poor Azaria's disappearance but had not known how to face Lindy directly, feeling helpless in the face of the pain she knew that her friend would be enduring.

The next day, Lindy's parents, Cliff and Avis Murchison, arrived along with her brother Alex, his wife Felicity and their two children. Jenny Richards had picked them up from the airport as Lindy and Michael had been asked by a major woman's magazine for an interview, ostensibly to enable the Chamberlains to warn people of the dangers of dingoes. It was to be the last time that they would welcome journalists into their home as people 'just doing their job,' as the magazine shamefully misrepresented them.

Michael's mother flew over from New Zealand for the memorial service at the Adventist church the following Wednesday. It was a simple service conducted by Pastor Kennaway, who had also conducted Azaria's dedication only a few weeks before, and Pastor Harker, the President of the local district. As there was no coffin, Lindy had asked the local florist to make up a heart shaped cushion, adorned with delicate pink flowers and maidenhair fern, something she could keep to remind her of her baby daughter. Curiously, even though they had hounded the Chamberlains mercilessly, the media did not cover the event.

Over the next two weeks, Lindy was to constantly find reminders of the reality of Azaria's death. Avis volunteered to hand wash all of Azaria's baby clothes in an attempt to make the existence of the little granddaughter that she had never met or held, seem more real. Jenny placed the tracksuit pants that Lindy had worn after Azaria had disappeared in the pile for the dry-cleaners. As they were new and made of wool, Lindy had not wanted to risk washing them. The reality of Azaria's grizzly end was brought home to them all more fully when the boys' parkas, which had been hastily hung in the wardrobe on the night they arrived home, were taken out. Apart from the bloodstain on the cuff of Aidan's parka, there were splashes of blood right across the inside lining. Reagan's parka had splashes of blood across the back and on the sleeve.

Knowing that this was important evidence for the inquest, Lindy called the Alice Springs police to inform them of their find. She was told that she should hold onto Reagan's jacket until the police came to pick it up, but she could have Aidan's cleaned as it had already been looked at.

One morning, as Lindy was preparing to go for a jog with some friends, she suddenly burst into tears as she saw smudges of blood on her joggers. Her mother quickly took away the offending shoes, replacing them with another pair. By the time Lindy had returned, Avis had them cleaned and hanging on the line to dry.

One evening, as the family was preparing to watch the telecast of Lindy and Michael's interview on the program "This Day Tonight," Lindy and sister-in-law Felicity checked the sleeping bags as they brought them out for the children to use in front of the television. The boys' bags were fine, but they found that Lindy's bag had splashes of blood on it that hadn't been seen before. They decided to check the "space blanket," which had covered the sleeping Reagan in the tent. As they unfolded it, Lindy noticed that there were some puckers in the metallic surface. Avis and Felicity held one end each so that it could be inspected more closely. It was then that Lindy noticed a line of rip marks across the blanket, and Avis found two definite canine paw prints. The prints looked as if the dingo had stood in wet dirt and then stepped onto the blanket, leaving a thinly caked impression. Lindy touched the edge of one of the prints, finding that it was not dusty and would have to be sponged with a wet cloth to be able to remove it.

Lindy rang the Alice Springs police immediately and told them of the sleeping bag and the blanket. She was told that someone from Mt. Isa police would be sent to pick up the blanket, but that they would let her know whether she could wash the sleeping bag.

Several days had passed before someone arrived. Lindy's mother opened the front door to find a young, blond uniformed police officer, no older than twenty-four. Lindy invited him into the lounge room where she unfolded the blanket, pointing out to him the rip marks and a definite paw print. He confirmed what they had found. Lindy gave him the blanket and Reagan's parka on which she had discovered blood stains. Before he left, she asked him about the bloodstains found on her sleeping bag, as the police had not yet told her whether it was all right for her to have it dry-cleaned. The police officer told her that it wasn't needed, so go ahead and have it cleaned.

Michael took the sleeping bag to the dry-cleaners the next day. He showed the woman behind the counter where the bloodstains were and arranged to pick it up in a couple of days. When he returned to pick it up, he could see that some of the stains hadn't been removed properly and insisted that they do it again. While he was there, another customer had been present. Knowing who he was, she thought that he was trying to destroy evidence so called the local police who quickly obtained a warrant to pick up the sleeping bag from the dry-cleaners. The first the Chamberlains heard of it was when Michael again returned to pick it up.

Michael angrily went to the police station for an explanation, but none was forthcoming. He was then informed that they would now need Aidan's parka as well, which Michael dropped off to them on Friday 29th August. Several days later, Lindy received a call from Alice Springs police, wanting to know why it hadn't been sent. Lindy insisted that it had. The police called back later to tell her that they did in fact have it, but had forgotten it was there. It did not take long before reports of the Chamberlains deliberately attempting to destroy evidence began to appear in the press.

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