Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A Cry in the Night Part 3 Of 3

Dingo Victims & Azaria's Body

By Rachael Bell

It was only a matter of time before it happened again. In April 1998, Alan and Sharyn Rowles were camping at Australia's Fraser Island with their 13-month-old daughter, Kasey Rowles. They allegedly turned their backs for only a few seconds when they heard their daughter cry out frantically, Richard Shears reported in The Daily Mirror. When they turned back around they were horrified to see that a wild dingo was dragging away their baby. Luckily, Alan managed to frighten the animal enough to drop the child before running off. It was a close call that could have very well ended their daughter's life. However, other dingo victims would not be so fortunate.

Frasier Island, Queensland
Frasier Island, Queensland

In April 2001, another dingo attack occurred on Fraser Island. Clinton Gage, 9, and his 7-year-old brother went for a walk in the woods near Waddy Point camping ground when they realized they were being stalked by dingoes. The boys tried to run away but were immediately attacked by the bloodthirsty animals. The 7-year old, who sustained serious wounds to his arms and legs, managed to break free and run for help, Shears said. But his older brother was later found dead.

The attacks rekindled painful memories of when Michael and Lindy, now divorced, lost their 9-week-old daughter, Azaria, to a dingo during a camping trip at Ayers Rock in 1980. They knew their daughter would not be the last to fall prey to the wild dogs and felt dreadful for the parents and the surviving boy's painful loss. Unfortunately, the attack was something that could have been prevented.

Wild dingo dog
Wild dingo dog

Australia's dingo population has been steadily rising over the years and spreading out into residential areas. Since the animals pose an immediate threat to humans, there have been urgent calls for the dingo population to be controlled. However, the warnings have often gone unanswered much like before Azaria's death when the chief ranger of Ayer's Rock, Derek Roff, warned of an imminent attack but was ignored, Australia's Associate Press (AAP) General News reported. In fact, less than a week before Clinton's death, "the Queensland Environment Minister, Dean Wells refused to approve a dingo management plan for Fraser Island, demanding better plans for identifying dogs that may be about to attack people," BBC News reported.  Since the attack, the government has had a change of heart and has called for a dingo cull.

In a surprising development in the Azaria Chamberlain case, a Melbourne man named Frank Cole, 78, publicly revealed that he saw the infant in the jaws of a dingo on the day she was reported missing. According to an AAP article by Alex Wilson and Greg Rule, Cole said he shot the dingo and observed that the baby in the animal's mouth had "four puncture marks to her head, was missing an ear and was covered in blood." Cole said that he and his two friends never told anyone because they thought they would get in trouble for illegally shooting in a national park, the report stated. The three men split up and one of Cole's two friends took the infant's body with him, which Cole believed was buried in a suburban backyard. The man who buried the body died without telling Cole where exactly the baby was buried. Cole's other friend is suffering advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease.

The police launched an investigation into Cole's story but were unable to find any evidence supporting his claims. When investigators checked out the likely properties where the baby could have been buried, they found nothing.

Lindy claimed that she had "little faith in Mr. Cole's story" because there were too many inconsistencies, such as what the baby was wearing. Investigators were also weary of Cole's story and have worked with the coroner's office to close the case since there was no real proof of new facts or evidence into the infant's death. Even though the case has been closed, it still remains officially unsolved.

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