Few missing persons stories have had as much reaction to when the three Beaumont children disappeared in Adelaide New Year's Day 55 years ago.
There were numerous articles on new leads coming to the fore – I recall one from 1 January 2016. This article reflects on those and the new leads and that our children are precious to us and how every parent's worst nightmare is to have one of their children simply vanish.
55 years ago
Jane, Arnna and Grant Beaumont were three beach-loving children when they disappeared from the shores of Glenelg beach after their mother let them leave the house for the water on a hot summers day.
This is something many parents engaged in – the streets were safe, the norm was something nothing out of the ordinary.
Jane, Arnna and Grant now would be 59, 57 and 54-years-old respectively should they be alive.
On 26 January 1966 Jim Beaumont went to work. His wife Nancy planned to catch up with a friend. It was more than 35 degrees and the three Beaumont children were desperate to go to the beach, a 3 kilometre walk from their home in Harding St.
Thee day before Nancy had dropped the kids to the beach, watched them play in the shallows for a while and then drove home. They later caught the 2pm bus home together, just as they had been told.
Another day, another beach experience. Australian families 101. Nancy gave them a few shillings that morning, they were to be back at 12 mid day, she walked them to the bus, waved them goodbye - she didn't realise this was to be the last time.
At least four witnesses saw the children at Glenelg beach (confirmed sightings are different to saying you saw a bunch of kids). Another person, a 74-year-old lady saw the children playing under a sprinkler on the grass. A tall, blonde-haired man with dark blue bathers lay on a towel watching them, and later joined them, according to the witness.
The drama of disappearance
To this point in time there seems nothing untoward to any member of the public. Kids at the beach. Normal. Kids playing under a sprinkler. Normal. A man nearby watching the kids and joining them. What any father might do, Normal.
But then it get tricky.
The reports are as follows: later that same day the Beaumont children bought pies and pasties at the local cafe, not with the money their mother gave them but with one pound. A reliable witness, a postman saw the children who he recognised from his rounds but this was an hour later when they should have caught the bus.
As planned and agreed, Nancy waited for the 12pm bus, then the next, and after searching the beach with Jim that afternoon, called police. All three had vanished.
The What if's came into play – what if they had lost their bus money. It was 35 degree, very hot, and a long way to walk home for little children. What if the man at the sprinkler offered them a lift home gave them the pound note to buy some lunch. What if ..... Wikipedia provides a very detailed account of the case.
Leads and clues
Hundreds of citizen calls came in over the following weeks, month and years. For 50 years the case file has been open.
Then on Tuesday 19 January 2016 the South Australian Major Crime Investigation Branch made the missing persons files public and since then they have received 25 reports to Crime Stoppers.
The Huffington Post reported Superintendent Des Bray stated: "There has never been a time in the history of this case that there have not been lines of inquiry for police.
Over the last two years there have been 159 reports to Crime Stoppers regarding the disappearance of the three Beaumont children – the equivalent of one every four days. Detectives believe there is still a window of opportunity to solve this case."
Des Bray said defectives in country South Australia were investigating a lead of a male suspect who is now dead. There have been hundreds of similar persons of interest over the history of this inquiry and this is just the latest. There are even those who have made false confessions to this crime.
At the time of writing, Jim and Nancy are now aged 90 and 88 respectively. They were divorced some years after the disappearance.
Even after all this time, the prayers of the nation aware of this unsolved case are seeking a resolution not least for the peace of parents Jim and Nancy.
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