A Dingo Did Eat Her Baby
In 1980, a woman’s baby was dragged from the family campsite and eaten by a dingo. The Aussie public and court system found the story implausible and the woman was given a life sentence. A movie was made based on the story. She was eventually released as evidence began to mount that her story was true. Now, just today, a fourth inquest has officially ruled the cause of death of the child to be wild animal attack.
A dingo did eat her baby.
Now, most of us find this relevant from the Seinfeld quote, “Maybe a dingo ate your baby.” That’s certainly what I thought upon reading the story. But, as I thought more, I wanted to take a moment to reflect upon this tragedy.
About a year back I worked on a project outlining the costs of wrongful convictions (see my blog post here, and the full study here). A few cases I studied involved a family member (father or husband, usually) supposedly killing another family (wife or child). In most instances, the entire defense rested on the improbability that some other person would perpetrate a heinous act of violence upon a complete stranger. Often, the conviction was only overturned when the real killer confesses. I can only imagine the horror of being convicted for killing your own child. I can only imagine the relief that comes when the real killer is found. But… when the real killer is a dingo? In some cases, such as the case of Julie Rea Harper, the killers have no reason other than their love of killing. Maybe finding that a dingo was the culprit would be more satisfying.
I don’t really have a point to make here, other than the highlight the value of our criminal justice system. Good cops, good forensics, good prosecutors and good judges are the only way to avert tragedy like this.