Today many Australians celebrate the founding of this great nation. But the day also marks another anniversary that doesn’t require a beer or the Triple J Hottest 100 to celebrate. Far from it, in fact.
50 years ago today, parents held their children a little tighter, their watchful eye lingering a little longer, as news of three children disappearing from a South Australian beach swept through the country.
The way Australians parented was forever changed from that day forward.
Jane, Arnna and Grant Beaumont would now be 59, 57 and 54-years-old respectively. But they were just 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. Like any other parent at that time.
The case has never been solved, but investigators have a new lead, following a tip-off from a caller in recent weeks.
Detective Superintendent Des Bray – the officer in charge of the Major Crime Investigation Branch in South Australia – told The Huffington Post Australia officers are currently in country South Australia investigating the 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,” Superintendent Bray told HuffPost Australia.
“Police want to either conclusively rule a person of interest either in, or out of the inquiry, however there are dozens of men who have been nominated who cannot be ruled out.”
A phopto of the Beaumont children, released by police last week.
On January 26, 1966 Jim Beaumont went to work and his wife, Nancy, planned to catch up with a friend. But it was more than 35 degrees, and the three Beaumont children were desperate to go to the beach --about a 3 kilometre walk from their Harding St home.
Nancy had dropped the kids to the beach the day before, 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.
So Nancy gave them a few shillings that hot morning, and walked them to the bus, waving them goodbye for what she didn’t realise was the last time. They were to be back by 12pm.
The Beaumont children made it to Glenelg beach, with at least four witnesses confirming sightings of the children.
But a 74-year-old woman 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.
Later that day the Beaumont children bought pies and pasties at the local cafe, not with the money their mother gave them but with one pound.
Nancy waited for the 12pm bus, then the next, and after searching the beach with Jim that afternoon, called police.
The Beaumont children's missing persons report, released last week.
A 'suspect wanted' poster from the 1970s.
The original poster offering up the $1 million reward which still stands today.
Last Tuesday the South Australian Major Crime Investigation Branch made the missing persons files public and since then they have received 25 reports to Crime Stoppers.
“There has never been a time in the history of this case that there have not been lines of inquiry for police,” Superintendent Bray told HuffPost Australia.
“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.”
Detective Superintendent Des Bray said the Major Crime Investigation Branch never closes a file on an unsolved murder, so despite the reality many further witnesses and the assailant could have passed away, the case will remain open.
“Detectives believe there is still a window of opportunity to solve this case,” Superintendent Bray said.
“And that if they continue to work hard it is still possible to get a result.”