CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – The mother of a baby snatched by a dingo at an Outback campsite 32 years ago is praising former critics who now admit they were wrong to have accused her of murder. But she says she believes others will never accept her innocence.
Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton gave rare interviews to Australian media on Wednesday in the northern city of Darwin, where a coroner concluded Tuesday that a dingo, or wild dog, was responsible for Azaria Chamberlain’s death. The 9-week-old girl disappeared in 1980 from her parents’ tent near Ayers Rock, the red monolith in the Australian desert now known by its Aboriginal name Uluru.
The tragedy split Australians between those who believed Chamberlain-Creighton had killed the child and those who believed her claims that a dingo was the culprit.
She was convicted in 1982 of slitting the baby’s throat with a pair of nail scissors and spent three years of a life sentence in a Darwin prison for murder before she was exonerated. The case was depicted in the 1988 movie “A Cry in the Dark.”
Chamberlain-Creighton said Wednesday she is now writing a book about forgiveness and welcomed approaches from her former doubters who want to apologize. Those who have come forward include a juror who convicted her of murder.
“I think they have a huge amount of courage to admit that they were wrong,” Chamberlain-Creighton told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“There are still people saying: ‘I don’t care what the evidence was. I’ve made up my mind and I don’t want to listen to sense,'” she added.
A piece of evidence that continues to feed skepticism is the baby’s jumpsuit, which was found in relatively good condition. In the final inquest, the coroner said it would have been “very difficult” for a dingo to have removed the clothes, but it was possible.
Frank Morris, a now-retired policeman who was at Uluru the night Azaria disappeared, said he still believes there was some human intervention. Of the parents’ victory, he said, “If you go to court enough times, you are bound to get a win sooner or later.”
The cool demeanor of Chamberlain-Creighton and her then-husband, Michael Chamberlain, after the loss of their child had alienated many Australians who watched their many television appearances in the aftermath of the tragedy. But Chamberlain-Creighton said there was nothing the couple could have done to avoid the public condemnation of many.
“It wouldn’t have mattered what we did. If we didn’t react exactly the same as the individual watching us reacted, that individual thought we were being weird,” she said.
“So if you smile, that’s dreadful; you should be crying. And if you don’t smile you’re hard-hearted. And if you cry all the time, you’re a drama queen,” she added.
She said Meryl Streep was surprised that her sense of humor did not match her public persona when the pair met before the actress played Chamberlain-Creighton in “A Cry in the Dark.”
Streep “said: ‘I thought I had it all down pat, your role, but you’ve just blown me out of the water in 10 minutes,” Chamberlain-Creighton told Nine Network.
Chamberlain-Creighton did not immediately respond to AP’s request for an interview on Wednesday.
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