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Dingo took baby Azaria Chamberlain: Coroner rules in 1980 Australian case made famous by Meryl Streep

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton speaks to the media as her ex-husband, Michael Chamberlain, right, listens outside a coroner's court in Darwin, Australia, Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Patrina Malone,AP Photo/AAP

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton speaks to the media outside a coroner's court in Darwin, Australia, Tuesday, June 12, 2012.
AP Photo/AAP, Patrina Malone

(CBS/AP) CANBERRA, Australia - Thirty-two years after 9-week-old Azaria Chamberlain vanished from her parents' tent at a campsite in the Australian desert, a coroner finally concluded Tuesday that a dingo, or wild dog, had taken the infant.

That is what her parents, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton and Michael Chamberlain, had maintained from the beginning.

"We're relieved and delighted to come to the end of this saga," a tearful but smiling Chamberlain-Creighton, since divorced and remarried, told reporters outside the court.

The first inquest in 1981 had also blamed a dingo. But a second inquest a year later charged Chamberlain-Creighton with murder and her husband with being an accessory after the fact. She was convicted and served more than three years in prison before that decision was overturned. A third inquest in 1995 left the cause of death open.

The case became famous internationally through the 1988 movie "A Cry in the Dark," in which Meryl Streep played the mother.

No similar dingo attack had been documented at the time, but in recent years the wild dogs native to Australia have been blamed for three fatal attacks on children. Few doubt the couple's story today, but the latest inquest - which the family had fought to get - made it official that Azaria was killed in a dingo attack.

Coroner Elizabeth Morris said she was "satisfied that the evidence is sufficiently adequate, clear, cogent and exact and that the evidence excludes all other reasonable possibilities."

"This has been a terrifying battle, bitter at times, but now some healing and a chance to put our daughter's spirit to rest," Michael Chamberlain told reporters.

  • Crimesider Staff

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