The Beaumont Children: Australia's Most Baffling Cold Case
Nancy Beaumont, the mother of the missing Beaumont children, died on Monday aged 92, without ever knowing what happened to her children. Will Australia ever find the answers to this 53 year old mystery?
It's the nation's longest-running missing persons investigation, haunting Australia for decades.
Jane, Arnna and Grant Beaumont vanished on Australia Day 1966, on a trip to the beach.
The siblings, aged 9, 7 and 4, left home and boarded a bus to Glenelg at 9.45am on January 26. It was something they'd done before, and their mother expected them home around midday.
But they never made it back. Several sightings of the children helped shape the initial investigation, including a postie who reported seeing them at around 10.15am.
Several people witnessed them playing on the grass near the Glenelg foreshore at 11.45am, and this time they weren't alone. Reports indicate they were accompanied by a 'surfy' looking man in his 30s. Later that day they entered a cake shop and bought lunch with a one pound note. Nancy Beaumont always maintained she hadn't given them that money when they left home. They were never seen again.
For the next five decades, Australia would be left wondering what happened to Jane, Arnna and Grant. Multiple persons of interest were identified, but none ever led to answers.
Harry Phipps was one of them. A prominent Adelaide businessman during the sixties and seventies, Phipps died in 2004 without ever being charged. He was rumoured to be a paedophile known for handing out pound notes to children but was never convicted of a sex crime.
Several others have also been mentioned as suspects, including Bevan Spencer Von Einem, who was jailed for the murder of Adelaide teenager, Richard Kelvin. He also remains the prime suspect for the "family murders" that claimed four other young victims in the late seventies and early eighties.
Seven years after the Beaumont's disappeared, Joanne Ratcliffe and Kirste Gordon vanished from Adelaide Oval. The pair have never been found, and many have wondered if the two cases could be linked - including Joanne's sister, Suzie.
"The photo of the suspect in both cases is eerily similar, and it's hard to fathom that somebody could take three children in once instance, and two children in another instance, and have basically no witnesses or no evidence," she told 10 News First on Thursday.
Suzie's mother also died this year without ever knowing what happened to her little girl. It's something her family had to learn to live with.
"Both my Mum and my Dad had the same saying - that although they were smiling on the outside, they were broken on the inside. They were continuously in tears."
In 2013, a police dig at the New Castalloy factory in Adelaide's west, built by Phipps, failed to find any evidence of the three children.
And again, as recently as February 2018, new information came to light that brought investigators back to the factory site. This time, the dig uncovered bones - however, they were later found to be animal remains.
The case remains open, and Superintendent Des Bray maintains SA Police are still committed to finding answers for the Beaumont family.
"We will always do anything humanly possible to locate the Beaumont children and take them home to their family," Superintendent Bray said last year, after the latest dig failed to find any trace of Jane, Arnna or Grant.
Former police officer Bill Hayes has spent 12 years researching the case, and will soon release a book with new information about the crime with co-author Stuart Mullins.
"There are people out there who do have knowledge, and do have answers, and for some reason they're not giving them. Hopefully now they might," Hayes told 10 News First on Thursday.
"I think fairness demands we find out what happened to those children. Someday, somewhere, we will."
Nancy Beaumont, the children's mother died on Monday, without ever receiving the answers she so desperately wanted. Their father Jim still lives in Adelaide. The couple divorced many years ago.
A reward of up to $1 million is still on offer for information that leads to the recovery of the Beaumont's bodies, or their killer.
Feature image: 10 News First
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