Azaria Chantel Loren Chamberlain (11 June 1980 – 17 August 1980) was a nine-week-old Australian baby girl who was killed by a dingo on the night of 17 August 1980 during a family camping trip to Uluru in the Northern Territory. Her body was never found. Her parents, Lindy and Michael Chamberlain, reported that she had been taken from their tent by a dingo. However, Lindy was tried for murder and spent more than three years in prison, despite there being “no body, no evidence of motive and no eyewitness evidence that even vaguely incriminated the Chamberlains” and that “it appears that none of these witnesses—campers, rangers, trackers, searchers or local police who initially attended the scene—doubted that the baby had been taken by a dingo”. Michael was also put in jail for some time. Lindy was released only after Azaria’s jacket was found near a dingo lair and new inquests were opened. In 2012, 32 years after Azaria’s death, the Chamberlains’ version of events was officially supported by a coroner.
An initial inquest held in Alice Springs supported the parents’ claim and was highly critical of the police investigation. The findings of the inquest were broadcast live on television—a first in Australia. Subsequently, after a further investigation and a second inquest held in Darwin, Lindy was tried for murder, convicted on 29 October 1982 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Azaria’s father, Michael, was convicted as an accessory after the fact and given a suspended sentence. The media focus for the trial was unusually intense and aroused accusations of sensationalism, while the trial itself was criticised for being unprofessional and biased. The Chamberlains made several unsuccessful appeals, including the final High Court appeal.
After all legal options had been exhausted, the chance discovery in 1986 of Azaria’s jacket in an area with numerous dingo lairs led to Lindy’s release from prison. On 15 September 1988, the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously overturned all convictions against Lindy and Michael. A third inquest was conducted in 1995, which resulted in an “open” finding. At a fourth inquest held on 12 June 2012, Coroner Elizabeth Morris delivered her findings that Azaria Chamberlain had been taken and killed by a dingo. After being released, Lindy was paid $1.3 million for false imprisonment and an amended death certificate was issued.
Numerous books have been written about the case, and there exist several pop culture references notably using some form of the phrase “A dingo ate my baby” or “A dingo took my baby”. The story has been made into a television movie, a feature film entitled Evil Angels (released outside Australia and New Zealand as A Cry in the Dark), a television mini-series, a play, a concept album by Australian band The Paradise Motel, and an opera (Lindy, by Moya Henderson).