Post by Graveyardbride on Sept 29, 2013 14:35:39 GMT -5
Disappearance of the Beaumont Children
The morning of January 26, 1966, was already hot in Adelaide, Australia, with the temperature due to peak at almost 104° F. (40°C). Jim Beaumont, a linen goods salesman, debated whether or not to go to work or take his children swimming. Work meant a two-hour drive to Snowtown to see some customers. Staying at home and taking his children to the beach sounded more appealing. Being a good salesman, however, Beaumont decided he’d best see his customers. It was a decision he would regret for the remainder of his life.
The children, Jane (age 9), Arnna (7) and Grant (4), left their home at 109 Harding Street in Somerton Park on the corner of Peterson Street around 10 a.m. to catch the bus to Glenelg. It was only a short distance and they could have ridden their bicycles. However, because the day was so hot, they thought it was more sensible to take the bus. It was understood by the children that they would return home on the noon bus. There was no way they could have become confused concerning the time because the clock tower at Glenelg was highly visible. Before her children left, Nancy Beaumont gave Jane 8 shillings and sixpence for bus fare and incidentals.
After her children departed for the beach and her husband for work, Mrs. Beaumont visited a friend. She returned before the noon bus arrived and went to the bus stop to wait. Her children were not on the bus, however, she wasn’t too concerned because the children could have decided to walk home, or they could have simply missed the bus and were waiting for the 2 o’clock bus. Some friends came to the house and she visited with them, feeling certain the children would be home soon. But the children were not on the 2 o’clock bus either and by now, Nancy was beginning to feel uneasy. She could have gone to look for the children, but their route home could take them down Moseley or Partridge streets or Brighton Road and she could miss them, so instead she decided to wait. The 3 o’clock bus cane and went and still no children. Jim Beaumont returned home early because his customers had not been available and when his wife explained the children still weren’t home from the beach, he immediately went out searching for them. He drove to the beach and was back at home by 3:30, at which time he picked up his wife and returned to the beach. Around 7:30 p.m., Mr. and Mrs. Beaumont contacted the police and reported their three children missing. Jim went out again and continued searching throughout the night while his wife remained at the house in case the children came home.
The following morning, the Beaumont children were officially declared missing. One apparently comforting fact was that children almost never disappear in groups. There is a sense of safety in numbers, even for children. The typical missing child is one who has run away for one reason or another and those who abduct children, for whatever reason, seldom take more than a single child. But the Beaumont siblings had absolutely no reason to run away and Jane would never have allowed her younger siblings do so anyway.
This left two possible explanations: Either they had met with some sort of accident – most likely drowning – or someone had abducted them. From the outset, the latter seemed more likely.
During the investigation, several witnesses claimed to have seen the children near the beach in the company of a tall, blond man of thin to athletic build in his mid-30s. The children were playing with him and appeared to be relaxed and enjoying themselves. The man and children were seen walking away from the beach some time later, which police estimated to be around 12:15 p.m. A shopkeeper reported Jane Beaumont had bought pastries and a meat pie with a £1 note around the same time. Police viewed this as evidence the children had been with another person for two reasons. First, the shopkeeper knew the children well from previous visits and claimed they had never purchased a meat pie before. Second, their mother had given the children coins only amounting to enough for bus fare and snacks. She did not give them a £1 note, which meant someone else had given them the note.
A massive search was launched. The coast was scoured for miles both north and south of the Colley Reserve in hopes of finding something. However, the children’s belongings were not on the beach and the question had to be asked: Even if it were possible that on a hot summer’s afternoon at a crowded beach, three children could have been swept out to sea and drowned without anyone noticing, was it possible the children could carry their towels, a book and other belongings into the water and nothing be found? This was clearly very close to impossible.
At the Beaumont home, Nancy was placed under sedation by a doctor. Friends and relatives gathered to await news and a telephone was installed so the family could keep in touch with Glenelg Police Station. Jim Beaumont visited the station twice a day for news.
By the weekend, the disappearance of the Beaumont children was a national news item and the search had become one of the largest ever undertaken in Australia. Jim Beaumont had once been an owner-driver with the Suburban Taxi Service and when the drivers found out it was his children who were missing, 40 of them joined the search. The search itself had been extended to every seaside suburb and beyond. Sandhills were searched and police knocked on the doors of every house the children could have passed on their way home. In addition to the taxi drivers, hundreds of ordinary citizens asked if there was any way in which they could be of assistance.
On January 31, five days after the disappearance of his kids, Jim Beaumont went on national television to appeal for their return. He expressed the hope that whoever was holding his children would return them, then he broke down. Hundreds of calls were received, mostly from people believing they had seen the children and every lead was investigated.
Following Beaumont’s appeal, the South Australian Police Commissioner asked Adelaide householders to search their properties and investigate sheds and hiding places. Despite the resources that were being poured into the search, the police were just as baffled as the public. In order to sustain public concern about the disappearance of the children and at the same time increase abhorrence of the abductor, police released a letter written by Jane Beaumont two days before she disappeared. It had nothing to do with the case, but was designed to play on the emotions of the public. By this stage, police were willing to do anything to develop a lead. The letter had been written when Mr. and Mrs. Beaumont went out for an hour or so, returning a little after 9 p.m., leaving Jane in charge of her brother and sister.
Dear Mum and Dad, I am just about to go to bed and the time is 9. I have put Grant’s nappy on so there is no need to worry about his wetting the sheet. Grant wanted to sleep in his own bed so one of you will have to sleep with Arnna. Although you will not find the rooms in very good condition I hope you will find them as comfortable as we do. Good night to you both. Jane XXX
PS I hope you had a nice time wherever you went.
PPS I hope you don’t mind me taking your radio into my room Daddy.
Nancy Beaumont had kept the letter, intending to show it to Jane when she’d grown up.
On February 3, the Patawalonga boat haven was searching for the bodies of the children. At low tide, the wooden lock gates were closed and while police divers searched the deeper water near the lock, a line of police cadets, armed with long forks, oozed their way through the often waist-deep mud, feeling for bodies. They found nothing. On the same day, Mrs. Beaumont held a press conference outside her home. She admitted that while she remained hopeful, she believed her children were probably dead. She also shed light on the possible behavior of her daughters and son, saying: “If the other two were very keen to go with someone, Jane would go with them to look after them and wouldn’t leave them alone.” When asked, she said she was very surprised by reports that the stranger seen with her children had dressed them. Jane was a very shy child and it seemed to her impossible that Jane would have let someone else pull up her shorts over her bathers.
The search continued, but nothing was found. The Adelaide Hills were searched without results. On February 14, 19 days after the disappearance of the children, Australia switched to decimal currency. February passed.
In March, former police officer Ray “Gunner” Kelly flew into Adelaide. A legendary figure in the New South Wales Police Force, he had only recently retired with the rank of Detective Inspector and had probably been Australia’s most famous policeman. He was employed as a private investigator in the disappearance of the Beaumont siblings by a Sydney newspaper. The South Australia Police welcomed him politely, but Kelly left after only one day. It seemed the case had beaten even him.
People who believe they possess psychic powers often offer their services to law enforcement in such cases and when Gerard Croiset, a parapsychologist and psychic from the Netherlands, was brought to Australia, there was a media frenzy. He believed the children’s bodies were buried in a warehouse near Paringa Park primary school, which Jane and Arnna attended. When the disappeared occurred, the location was a building site and Croiset indicated the bodies were buried beneath concreate in the remains of an old brick kiln. Though the property owners were reluctant to have their property excavated because of the damage that would result, $40,000 was raised to have the building demolished, but neither the children’s bodies nor any of their clothing or other items were found.
The search for the Beaumont children was eventually scaled down. There was only a certain length of time the South Australia Police could continue searching without results. Despite the best efforts of law enforcement, all that was discovered were people who had seen the Beaumont kids at the beach and they were located in the first week. Nothing else, not a single clue, was uncovered.
But now, almost a half-century later, there is a startling new revelation in the case that could reopen the investigation. that has become etched in Australian criminal history. There are fresh claims into the disappearance of the Beaumont children that could re-open the investigation. Alan Whiticker’s new book on the case, The Satin Man, points the finger of suspicion at a powerful, rich and influential South Australian captain of industry, Harry Phipps. According to Whiticker’s book, the industrialist led a sinister double life and lived just a little more than 500 yards from the beach where the children were last seen. Phipps, who died 10 years ago, bears an uncanny resemblance to a widely-distributed sketch of a man who was last seen playing with the missing siblings at Glenelg Beach. According to Phipps’s eldest son, his father was a cross-dressing predator who had sexually abused him from a young age. The son also claims there was an occasion when his father brought home three lost-looking children, but he never saw them leave. The son believes the children’s bodies may have been disposed of in a waste pit at the factory that his father owned.
Bill Hayes, a retired South Australian police officer, believes Phipps’s son. He says there are just too many credible clues to dismiss Phipps as a strong suspect in the Beaumont children case.
Sources: Plus7, The Satin Man by Alan Whiticker, and The Beaumont Children.