The Beaumont children vanish – 50 years ago today

50 years ago today – Australia Day 1966 – the three young Beaumont children vanished from Glenelg Beach near Adelaide and
Opinion

50 years ago today – Australia Day 1966 – the three young Beaumont children vanished from Glenelg Beach near Adelaide and despite a massive search and one of the most intensive police investigations in Australia’s history, no trace of them has ever been found.

Jane Nartare Beaumont aged 9, Arnna Kathleen Beaumont aged 7 and Grant Ellis Beaumont aged 4 had gone unsupervised from their home in Harding Street, Somerton Park, an Adelaide suburb to the nearby beach at 10am on that hot summer’s day. It was a five-minute bus trip – a trip that they had made the day before – and were expected home by 2pm.

The eldest child was considered responsible enough in those innocent, perhaps naive, days and it wasn’t particularly strange that a parent or another adult didn’t accompany them. What was perhaps odd was that their parents didn’t call police until 7.30pm – five and a half hours after they were supposed to be home.

The search began immediately.

Police found several witnesses who had seen the children near the beach in the company of a tall, blond and thin-faced man with a tanned complexion and of thin to athletic build and in his mid 30s. It was reported that the children were playing with him and appeared relaxed and enjoying themselves.

They were seen walking away from the beach as a group at about 12.15pm.

A shopkeeper who knew the children well from previous visits said the oldest child, Jane, bought pasties and a meat pie with a one pound note. Their mother had told police that she had only given Jane enough coins for their bus fares and lunch – not a pound note – and the shopkeeper said they had never ever bought a meat pie previously. Obviously, the money came from somebody else who may have been the recipient of the pie.

At about 3pm, the three children were seen walking towards the general direction of their home by a postman who also knew the children well and police regarded his statement as factual. He said the children were “holding hands and laughing”. They were already an hour late getting home yet appeared unconcerned. This was the last confirmed sighting of them.

Mr Jim and Mrs Nancy Beaumont described their children as “shy” and that was completely out of character for them to be playing so freely and happily with a stranger. It led police to believe that they had met the man during previous beach visit or visits and had grown to trust him. A chance remark at home which seemed insignificant at the time supports this theory.

Arnna had told her mother that Jane had “got a boyfriend down at the beach” and Mrs Beaumont thought that she had meant a playmate and took no further notice until after the disappearance.

Sightings were reported for about a year after the mysterious disappearance. All were investigated and then discounted. There were even crank letters alleging that the writer had the children – two letters from the same writer were kept and twenty-five years later, new forensic examinations showed that the author had been a Victorian teenager at the time. He was not charged with any offence.

One of the more bizarre inquiries was by a Dutch so-called psychic, Gerard Croiset who arrived in November, 1966. It caused a media frenzy but his search proved unsuccessful and he kept changing his story from day to day. One site he identified was a new warehouse and, at the time of the children’s disappearance, it had been a building site and he said their bodies were buried in the concrete foundations.

Understandably, the owners were reluctant to raze their new building on such a flimsy claim but there was a huge public outcry and $40,000 was raised to allow the building to be demolished. No trace of the children was found.

In all, the three children had seventeen individual items including clothes, towels and bags and not one was ever found.

There was any number of conspiracy theories about why the children vanished including kidnapping by a religious cult. All were followed up by police and nothing came of any of them.

Mr and Mrs Beaumont remained living in their home for many years, with Mrs Beaumont saying repeatedly that it would be “dreadful” if the children came back and they weren’t there. The agony and must have eaten away at their very souls for, finally, they sold the house and divorced and went to live separately and alone.

To this day, the police file remains open – our most famous “cold case”.

 

Do you remember hearing about the Beaumont murders?

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  1. Libbi Elliot

    So very sad and I don’t think we will ever know what happened to those children other than they met a grisly end

  2. Leanna Stephenson

    The Beaumont children change my life, my parents we always very cautious after that to know where we were and what we were doing, Australia was very free at that time, children ran free. I feel so sorry that no remains were ever found to give their parents some resolution

    • Rob Bower

      Yes it certainly changed our way of life, I was 12 when this happened, just about to start high school.. We had free reign to explore from sun up to sun down, just be home by dark, years earlier, all us cousins used to go to our local picture show, about 3lm away, the oldest who was maybe 8 was in charge of us all, he was 3 years older, imagine an 8 year old in charge now, we lost our innocence as a country after that…

    • Rosalind Battles

      Times have sure change and not for the better, as children we had a chance to explore and mingle with other children, the Beaumonts sure changed much of that an so did Graeme Thorn

    • Djuna Fraser

      went to work and left the windows open , never heard of burgs or vandals ,now when your home you have to lock yourself in. Yes things sure have changed.

  3. Leanna Stephenson

    The Beaumont children change my life, my parents we always very cautious after that to know where we were and what we were doing, Australia was very free at that time, children ran free. I feel so sorry that no remains were ever found to give their parents some resolution

    • Rob Bower

      Yes it certainly changed our way of life, I was 12 when this happened, just about to start high school.. We had free reign to explore from sun up to sun down, just be home by dark, years earlier, all us cousins used to go to our local picture show, about 3lm away, the oldest who was maybe 8 was in charge of us all, he was 3 years older, imagine an 8 year old in charge now, we lost our innocence as a country after that…

    • Rosalind Battles

      Times have sure change and not for the better, as children we had a chance to explore and mingle with other children, the Beaumonts sure changed much of that an so did Graeme Thorn

    • Djuna Fraser

      went to work and left the windows open , never heard of burgs or vandals ,now when your home you have to lock yourself in. Yes things sure have changed.

    • Djuna Fraser

      WHERE ARE ALL THREE LITTLE BEAUMONT KIDDIES , we all want to know , too sad for the poor parents , i remember this day so clearly . some one knows something for sure,

    • Djuna Fraser

      Dawn Peterson On the day before i had my first child and this frightened me , wondered for 50 yrs now were are they. will we ever find out., those poor parents.

  4. Carol Fieldus

    I do remember that day but could never understand how you could let 3 very young children go to the beach on their own,,who was going to watch them in the water,,a terrible tragedy ,

    • John Mcewen

      It was an acceptable way of life. Stranger danger wasn’t as prevalent as today and children were given responsibilities earlier than today.

    • Barbara Easthope

      It was pretty common to let your kids go off and do things on their own. I did feel letting the youngest go too was putting a bit much on the 9 year old particularly as it would be a lengthy outing not just a stroll to the corner store. I lived in Adelaide at the time and it changed the more carefree approach of parents to kids roaming to a more restrictive one.

    • Maria Hart

      That’s the way it was in that ears. It was a relaxed and carefree time. When i was a child in the 40s i wanded through out the bush and swam in creeks with my friends without adult supervision. That’s the way it was.

    • Kerry Harper

      They were 9, 7 & 4.. They caught a bus to the beach for the day… That’s not ‘parenting’ that’s neglect.. It happened but it was never an acceptable way of life if you cared about looking after your children.. Never mind stranger danger..beaches can be very dangerous places.. I had children a similar age at the time & I thought it was disgusting…

      • Rhonda S.  

        Kerry Harper, the Beaumonts were NOT neglectful, they were loving, caring parents. As has been said by many here, their parenting was very typical of the times where children were responsible at younger ages than they are now and it was generally considered safe for them to go about without parental supervision. The now elderly parents have been through 50 years of agony over the loss of their beautiful family and I can’t let people like you criticise them when you obviously have no idea – I find it very difficult to believe your claim that you were a parent yourself back then because you seem to have no idea of the times.

    • Lyn Pride

      Kerry Harper times were very different then and it definitely was not parent neglect. I used to take my young cousins places with me and i was a very responsible child – that’s just how it used to be. I take exception to your comments and would hate the parents of these children to hear them from you.

    • Margy Mildren

      We all did that in those days, there were always the lifesavers who looked out for all of us

    • Kerry Harper

      Lyn & Margy I know that was 50 years ago & 50 years ago I had children about that age…. Times were never that different. I would never have let them go to the beach alone & in my case they wouldn’t have had to catch a bus.. Perhaps if the parents had heard something like this… those children would still be alive. ‘The lifesavers looked out for us’.. What nonsense ..

    • Judy Potts

      Times WERE definitely different then. You knew if you were doing something wrong there would be consequences. Parents instilled in their children a sense of responsibility and you lived up to it. We were told to be home before dark – that was common practice in many households. No such thing as ‘helicopter parents’.

    • Carol Fieldus

      I know things were different 50 years ago and I have children nearing that age but there is no way I would have let children that young catch a bus and go to the beach,,the youngest was 4 ,I imagine the Mother would have had terrible guilt for letting them go that day,

    • Bernadette Meehan

      Kerry Harper when I started school in prep I walked 20 mins to the train station caught the train 5 stops and back home again. I was 5 years old. It was the done thing back then.

    • Roselyn Waters

      Too late for judgement and that was the way of life back then but certainly things changed after that

    • Roselyn Waters

      Kerry Harper no such thing as stranger danger back then we were all free but with timelimits .its easy to judge after the event and you never read about the 1,000s of kids who return did return home safely everyday..from the beach , from school, from the park or just to watch their fav team play footy at the local club! No as a mother I live in a glass house so I wont be judging any parent who allowed their kids to grow up

    • Kerry Harper

      Judy Potts Yeah…. Not everyone made it home before dark did they? I would never have taken that chance..

    • Roselyn Waters

      I used to hide in bushes from my son who thought he was a big kid and wanted to catch carp from the torrens.my friebds thought I was “overprotective”

    • Barbara Easthope

      Kerry Harper I suspect you were the exception. We walked to and from school each day, regularly went to the shops alone, played around our district. I was 14 when the Beaumont children were taken I observed the change in parents attitude, then just as everyone began to relax a little the two kids were taken from the Adelaide Oval. Parents put the tougher rules in and they’ve just got tougher ever since with some helicopter parents now smothering their children completely and leaving their kids almost incapable of independent though or action.

    • Kerry Harper

      Sure Barbara, I walked to school in the late 40’s & 50’s but always in a group. My kids I took to school for the first 4 years & picked them up.. I never took chances when they were small & as I said when I read about the Beaumont children..I was disgusted & thought it was neglect & I still do..

    • Patricia Lanes

      No way in this world would my parents have let me or my siblings go off by ourselves. We could only go to the beach or local swimming hole accompanied by an adult. Mum made us well aware of stranger danger.

    • Dawn Peterson

      Life was very different. I was 14 & myself along with 2 younger brothers used to go from Edwardstown to Glenelg beach quite often on our own. Sometimes on the bus, sometimes rode our bikes. There was no such thing as stranger danger back then

    • Faye  

      I was 18 at the time and remember it well. But young as I was, I was amazed that three such young children were allowed to go to the beach on their own. We never would have been, thats for sure.

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