014 - The Disappearance of the Beaumont Children
Glenelg is a beach-side suburb of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, that boasts sandy beaches, beautiful blue skies and crisp, cool water. Over the years it has maintained its reputation and become a popular beach venture for tourists and locals alike. The shore sits nestled beneath a growing landscape of high rise apartment complexes and hotels, providing all that can be needed for a traveler seeking a gorgeous place to spend his time. The skyline is somewhat sacrificed as the angular edifices cut into the blue with their skin of gleaming steel and glass. Today, Glenelg thrives as a tourist destination offering heavenly views as well as hosting the Glenelg Tigers football team, the Glenelg Seahorses Cricket team as well as shopping on Jetty Road and the ever growing popularity of recreational boating. Fifty one years ago, before it was known around the world as the place to be in South Australia, Glenelg was a quiet suburb known for its majesty, but all of that would change on Australia Day, January 26th, 1966 when a horrifying disappearance would shock Glenelg, and all of Australia, for years to come.
In 1955, ex-serviceman Grant Beaumont, known to all as Jim, meets, courts and marries a local named Nancy Ellis. The two move to the suburb of Somerton Park, living in a home at 109 Harding Street. The suburbs of Adelaide, at this time, were picturesque and often referred to as the perfect place to raise a family. Town populations were low, and in Somerton Park they find the kind of place where everyone knows everyone and people don’t worry about locking their doors. By January of 1966, Nancy and Jim have three small children. The eldest, Jane, is born in 1956, just a year after Jim and Nancy are married. Two years later in 1958, their second daughter, Arnna is born and she is followed three years later by the only boy, Grant in 1961. In January of 1966, Jane is nine years old and tasked with looking out for her siblings, 7 year old Arnna and 4 year old Grant.
The children frequently traveled to the beach in nearby Glenelg, often by themselves. Although from the 2017 perspective it’s easy to view this with a sideways glance, 1966 was a different time and considering the perceived safety and friendliness of the area, it wasn’t unheard of for young children to be let off on their own for a day at the beach. On Wednesday, January 26th, 1966, it was a blistering hot day for Adelaide and its suburbs. It was also Australia Day, essentially the same as the fourth of July for America. It is a celebratory day, and Jim had a decision to make. Though he would have preferred to have stayed home and spent the holiday with his family he had a previously arranged meeting to see clients two hours away in Snowtown. Jim was a salesman and rather than pass up the sale he figured he could make the drive, complete his work and be home in time to spend the late afternoon and evening with the family. Jim would later state that he regretted that decision for the rest of his life. After he left for the day, Nancy decided to allow the children to go down to Glenelg Beach for a few hours rather than having them lingering around the home on such a hot, beautiful morning, wasting away their summer holiday.
The children would normally ride their bikes down to the beach, as they had just the previous day, but with the weather being as hot as it is, and with the likelihood of increased traffic due to the holiday, Nancy tells the children to take the bus instead. The bust stop was at the intersection of Diagonal Road and Harding Street, less than 100 meters from their home. All three children wore bathing suits, shorts and sandals. Jane, being the oldest, had the responsibility of carrying a shoulder bag which contained their beach towels. Nancy told the children to take the noon bus home for lunch. There was a large clock tower in Glenelg by which the children would know when to catch the bus home. This would be the last time Nancy Beaumont would see her three children.
Jane is described as being 137 centimeters (4 foot 5 inches) tall with ear length fair hair, pushed back with fringe in the front. She was possibly wearing a yellow hair ribbon. She had a thin face, freckles and hazel eyes with buck teeth. She was prone to stuttering when she was excited. On January 26th she was wearing green shorts over a pink bathing suit, her sandals were canvas with white soles. She was carrying a white purse, a paperback copy of “Little Women” and a bluish-green airport travel style shoulder bag with three towels inside. Jane was also carrying eight shillings and six pence for the bus ride.
Arnna is described as being 122 centimeters (4 feet) tall with a thicker build. She had dark brown hair with a fringe and a tan complexion and dark brown eyes. She was wearing tan shorts over a red and white striped bathing suit and tan sandals. Grant is described as being 91 centimeters (just under 3 feet) tall. He had a thin build with brown hair and brown eyes. He was also tanned and often referred to as having an olive complexion. He was last seen wearing green cotton shorts over a green bathing suit with vertical white stripes and red sandals.
At approximately 10:10am, the three children boarded the bus headed for the beach. The bus was driven by a Mr. Monroe who would later confirm the children being present on the bus that morning. A female passenger also remembered seeing the girls on the bus, specifically recollecting Jane holding her copy of “Little Women.” The bus traveled north-west along Diagonal Road, turning North onto Brighton Road, west on Jetty Road and made a stop at Moseley Street, a short walk from the beach. At this point in time the three children stepped off the bus, and the time is thought to be approximately 10:15am. A local postman named Tom Patterson reports spotting the children at approximately 11am walking down Jetty Road, away from the beach. Patterson knew the children by sight and claims one of them exclaimed “It’s the postie!”
He described the children as walking hand in hand and laughing. It should be noted that when initially interviewed, Patterson cannot recall if he spotted the children at the beginning of his route, or at the end. This is a somewhat debated sighting as Patterson would later state that he actually saw the children at approximately 3pm and investigators would question why the children would be haphazardly wandering down the road laughing when they would have known they were late and likely going to be shouted out upon returning home. Through further investigation it is believed that Patterson did in fact see the children, and the most likely time was at approximately 11am. What exactly caused the confusion for Mr. Patterson is unknown, though he would ultimately agree with the earlier timeframe.
There is also some debate about the specific time the children left their home with certain reports noting that they left as early as 8:40am or as late as 1:00pm, but much of this has been chalked up to Jim Beaumont’s stress and confusion at the time he was speaking with investigators. The bus driver and passenger who reported seeing the children were able to corroborate Nancy’s timeline of a 10:10am bus trip and that is the time that investigators believe is accurate to their departure.
With her husband at work and the children away at the beach, Nancy stepped out to visit a neighbor. She arrived home just prior to the arrival of the 12pm bus but the children were not on it. Nancy didn’t think this was too weird as the children often walked home from the beach and she presumed it possible that they had missed their bus and were walking home, or that they simply made the choice to walk home instead of hopping on the bus. The next bus would arrive at 2pm and she decided to wait and assumed they would arrive with it.
When 2pm arrives and the children fail to return home Nancy begins growing more concerned. She considers walking down to the beach by the way the children normally travel, but she worries that she could possibly miss them if they take a different route and she doesn’t want to not be home when they arrive and so she waits. When the 3pm bus stopped at the corner of Diagonal road and Harding Street, the intersection at which the children had been picked up, and they failed to step off the bus, Nancy became frightened. At approximately 3:30pm, Jim arrived home from work, his clients had been unable to attend the meeting. Nancy met him in the yard. She was frantic about the children having gone to the beach and not returned. Jim tried his best to calm Nancy and told her that he would take a drive down to the beach and look for them.
After searching all around the beach area and the most likely path home, Jim stopped back at the house and picked up Nancy, telling her that he needed her help to look for them. Jim and Nancy traveled once more over the same path and began stopping by the homes of friends and neighbors asking if they’d seen the children. When no one had, and they could no longer control their worry they phoned the police to report the children missing. The phone call to police was made at approximately 7:30pm after Jim and Nancy felt they had exhausted all options and couldn’t think of where else to look.
A call log states the following: “The three children left home for the beach at Glenelg at 8:40am on January 26th, 1966. They traveled by bus leaving Harding Street at 8:45am. The children were seen on the lawns at the Collery Reserve during the morning. They failed to return home that afternoon. Since then no trace of children can be found.” Again we see different times here, but as previously mentioned, this is considered possible misinformation due to Jim placing the call and being distraught. In addition to this information, Jim also informs the Police that Jane could barely swim and that Arnna and Grant certainly could not swim. Officers were dispatched and began searching, and Jim went along with them to search the beach.
At 8:40pm, Police searched the Brighton foreshore as well as West Beach and Henley Beach, but no sign of the children is found.
At 9:50pm the Sea Rescue Squadron Volunteers offer to search the coastline. The police decline this offer on an official basis, but inform the volunteers that they may search unofficially if they so choose to.
At 10:00pm the Police call Jim and he explains that he has called every friend, family member and neighbor he can think of but no one has seen the children.
At 10:17pm, Police report they have searched ships at Boat Haven and surrounding areas but have found nothing.
The next morning, on Thursday January 27th, the children are officially listed as missing persons and a massive search is launched for them under the light of day. The coastline was searched for several kilometers north and south of Glenelg beach. The Police believe that they should be able to find some sign of the children, even if only items they are known to have been in possession of when they disappeared, but nothing is located. Jim and Nancy are frantic and Nancy is sedated to help her cope. Jim continues to attempt to assist in search efforts, but is told to stay home and wait for word from the police. Jim had previously been a taxi driver, and when his former co-workers find out about the disappearance, forty of them volunteer and join in the search efforts. Jim visits the police station twice a day looking for updates, and police install a phone line in the home so they can reach him directly.
Police almost immediately rule out the possibility of a run away situation as children rarely run off in groups, and they are typically running from something. They find no reason that any of the three children would voluntarily elect to run away from the Beaumont home. This leaves them with two grim possibilities: That the children were swept into the ocean and drowned, or that they were abducted. They begin canvassing the area the children were last known to be in and scouring for signs of them, and for witnesses who may have seen the children the previous day.
Police find a 74 year old woman who reports having seen the children the day they disappeared. According to the witness, she spotted all three children at approximately 11am. She was sitting in front of the Holdfast Sailing Club building when she saw the three children playing under a sprinkler on the lawn of the Colley Reserve. I have already read this account stating that the children were not playing at a sprinkler, but in fact a small washing device used to wash off sand and dirt from the beach. The Colley Reserve is a small lawn area for game playing and picnicking located on Colley Terrace, less than 0.3 kilometers (0.2 miles) from the beach.
The witness would further state that there was a man in blue swim trunks laying in the grass. She said the man appeared to be watching the children and, after several minutes, approached them at the sprinkler. The man appeared to be talking to the children and then began playing with them. The woman reported that the children were laughing and flicking their towels at the man for several minutes. The man was described as being tall, blond and thin faced with a sun-tanned complexion and a thin to athletic build, likely in his mid-30’s. At this point the witness loses track of them. Between 11am and 11:15am a schoolmate of Jane’s reports that she saw the three children, but that she did not speak with them.
At approximately 11:45am the three children entered Wenzel’s Cake Shop and purchases some snacks and a meat pie. They paid for the items with a One Pound note. The shopkeeper was familiar with the children stating that they had come in several times before, but that this occasion was different as they had never before purchased a meat pie. In addition to this purchase there is the curiosity of the one pound note as Jane had only been given change by her mother, another for the bus and a snack. This leads investigators to believe that the children had received the money from someone other than their mother, and perhaps from the blond haired man seen with them earlier. Their arrival in the shop is fifteen minutes before the 12pm bus that they are meant to take home.
Sometime around 12pm, several other witnesses spot the man and the children. One woman was sitting by herself on a bench at Collery Reserve when she saw the blond haired man and the three children walking together. Sitting on the bench were also a woman, her husband and their granddaughter. The first woman positively identified Arnna Beaumont as being one of the children, and believed that Jane and Grant were the other two. According to these witnesses the man approached the bench and asked if they had seen anyone going through his clothing on the grass and that he was missing some money. The witnesses state that they told him they hadn’t seen anything, and at this point, the man returned to the children. The man began dressing the children at this point, which the witnesses found very odd considering the children were old enough to dress themselves, and especially Jane who was 9 years old at the time. According to Nancy, Jane was extremely shy, and she thought it highly unlikely she would allow a perfect stranger to dress her, but the witnesses say that Jane showed no hesitation and didn’t appear to think this was out of the ordinary. All four witnesses said that the three children seemed to be friendly and comfortable with the unidentified man.
Police begin to theorize that this was not the first time the children had met the man. The level of comfort the children felt with him, and the way in which they were willing to go along and play with him, plus the fact that they didn’t seem disturbed by him dressing them all adds up to this being someone they had met before. The children frequented the beach and police begin to believe that they had spent time with the man previously. It’s at this time that Nancy remembers a comment Arnna had previously made. According to Nancy, after a trip to the beach, Arnna had stated that Jane had “got a boyfriend down the beach.” At the time, Nancy thought Arnna simply meant a friend they played with, but in retrospect, both she and investigators begin to believe that this so-called boyfriend may have been the blond man.
After dressing the children the man returned to his clothing and picked up a pair of trousers and a towel from the grass. At this point, the man and the three children began walking away. They were last seen passing behind the Glenelg hotel, though one of the witnesses claims she saw the four heading toward the Colley Reserve changing rooms. This is the last officially verified sighting of the children, and Police believe that they went missing sometime between 12 and 12:15pm that afternoon.
There is one additional sighting which cannot be verified. A man from Broken Hill alleges to have seen the three children and an adult male walking away from the beach. According to Police, his description of the male matches that of previous witnesses with one flaw, he described the man as having brown, not blond, hair. This sighting takes place around 1:45pm, but due to contradictions in the description and no pieces of corroborating evidence, this sighting is not officially listed as a verified sighting. In response to the likelihood of abduction, Police put surveillance teams at the airport and rail stations to watch for anyone who may be attempting to take the children out of the area and roadblocks are setup on major roads, but their efforts prove fruitless. Police theorize that the children were abducted sometime after 12pm, but were not notified of the missing children until nearly 7:30pm, and that window of nearly seven hours granted any abductor the opportunity to get away before these measures could be taken.
By the weekend, news of the disappearance was national news, spreading all over Australia. News reporters flooded Glengel and Jim went on television making a plea for his children’s safe return. Jim breaks down during his plea, and the response of viewers and listeners is both a blessing and a curse. The Police are flooded with tips and have to divide their resources to follow possible leads on each call. Former CIB detective Peter Vogel is put in charge of the case. In an interview regarding the tips, Vogel would say “We received quite a few telephone calls with people giving us information. As well as people calling at the station and telling us what they saw and what they believe could have happened.”
An article is printed in the Sunday Mail newspaper with the headline “Sex crime now feared.” In the article it is alleged that investigators believe the children were murdered by a “sex pervert.” It goes on to discuss police theories that the children were likely murdered within a kilometer of the beach, and they site how difficult it would be to simultaneously abduct three children without them making a scene as a foundation for their theory. By February, new substantial leads are acquired and the government offers a reward of 200 pounds for information about the disappearance of the Beaumont children. This small sum of money results in public outcry, and a backlash from Jim and Nancy. Together, within donations, they are able to bump the reward up to 10,000 pounds.
In desperation to garner more sympathy from the public, and to add to the dark reputation of their possible abductor, the police make the decision to print a letter in the paper, written by Jane to her parents on a night when they had left her in charge of her brother and sister. The letter, in totality, reads: “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. Goodnight 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 to my room daddy.” Nancy Beaumont had hung onto the letter, planning to give it to Jane when she had grown up. Unfortunately, she will never have the opportunity to deliver the letter to her daughter.
On February 3rd, the Patawalonga boat haven is searched for bodies. Police divers search the deep water while cadets waded through waist-deep mud with long poking forks, but no bodies are found. Later that day, Nancy held a press conference in the garden of their home. During the conference, Nancy admitted with difficulty that it was hard to imagine the children were still alive. When asked about the reports of a man being seen with the children, Nancy responded “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.”
A sketch is developed based on descriptions of the fair haired man last seen with the children. It becomes the most famous face in Australia, despite its lack of defining characterstics. It is an extremely vague depiction of a thin faced man with no identifying marks and appears almost as the ghost of an image rather than that of a face. The image is plastered all around Australia, along with photos of Jane, Arnna and Grant, but to no avail. Tips begin to dwindle and police begin to scale back their investigation. Later, in March, ex-policeman Ray Kelly flew into Australia. He is highly respected by the New South Wales Police and had retired not long ago at the rank of Detective Inspector. He was Australia’s most famous policeman at the time and is now operating as a private investigator, hired by a newspaper to see what he can ascertain about the case. Kelly met with local investigators, but flew back out of Australia the next day. There is much speculation about why he stayed for only a day, but many speculate that information given to him by the police led him to believe the case was too thin to make much of.
Investigators are baffled and outside of witnesses interviews within days of the disappearance, they have found no new evidence or signs of the children. The number of officers assigned to the case is cut back. In September, some eight months after the disappearance, a new lead is presented to investigators. Senior Constable Ron Grose in the town of Kaniva picks up his phone and finds his lines are crossed with someone elses. While holding the phone to his ear he hears a conversation between two women in which one woman mentions bringing the Beaumont children back from Hobart. He immediately called the homicide squad and told them what he had heard. Detective-Sergeant Stanley Swaine deemed the call genuine.
For the first time since the disappearance of the children there was hope for the case. Jim and Nancy were informed of the development and began to consider the possibility that their three children would be found, but unfortunately, it was all a misunderstanding. On October 13th, Investigators received two calls from two women who claim they were the ones whose conversation Grose had overheard. According to them, they had been discussing the disappearance of the Beaumont children, but then changed topics and were discussing different children who were returning from a trip to Hobart.
Many months after the disappearance a woman called in a tip. According to the woman, on the night of the disappearance, she had seen a man accompanied by two girls and a boy entering a vacant house in her neighborhood. She stated that later that night she saw the boy walking alone down the road, but he was pursued by the man and picked up. The next morning the woman noted that the house was once again vacant and she saw no signs of the children nor the man. Police are unable to verify this sighting and are confounding as to why the woman waited so long to report it.
Police express their frustration with the case. According to their investigation, the children had with them at least seventeen individual items including clothing, towels, a book and bags, yet not a single one of these items is ever located. As the investigation begin to grow cold, a so-called psychic appears on the scene. In November of 1966, Gerard Croiset, a dutch man and self-proclaimed clairvoyant is flown into Adelaide by a local Dutch businessman named Jan Van Schie. Reportedly, Croiset had had some success locating missing children in Europe and Van Schie believes he may be able to provide answers in the case of the Beaumont children. Initially, Croiset claims that the children can be located within 800 meters (half a mile) of where they had last been seen.
Croiset requests video footage and photos of the area around Glenelg beach. Barry Blackwell, a car salesman from Brighton, and friend to Nancy Beaumont, offers to pay for a helicopter to fly the coastline for Croiset. Croiset makes the startling claim that the children can be located “under the earth in a cave.” The film footage shot from the helicopter along with a short form documentary which covers the childrens known travel on the day they vanished is presented to Croiset. According to Croiset, he can see what happened to the children and he explains that there is a pole with a warning sign on it and nearby was a hole surrounded by dead grass. He states that the children went passed this hole, to a similar one, and crawled inside at which point the earth caved in on them.
Investigation of the area finds two storm drains, one which appears to have caved in. The fire department is called to clear debris from the storm drain, but nothing is found inside. A local man states that the storm drain had caved in only a week earlier and that in the hours after the children had been reported missing police had searched the drain thoroughly. When asked about Croiset, Jim Beaumont states “We have a police force to cover all these things. I am glad, and I will say it again, that I don’t believe in clairvoyance.” It is reported at the time that Jim and Nancy feel the involvement of Croiset is turning their tragic loss of children into a circus show for the media.
While in town, Croiset receives a call from a local woman who informs him that the floor in a nearby warehouse has recently been poured with concrete. Croiset suddenly believes that the children are buried beneath the floor and requests the police dig it up. Police disagree stating that the concrete had been poured within a week of the disappearance and that they had questioned the construction workers who informed them that had there been bodies buried there, they certainly would have discovered them during their work. The South Australian government refuses to pay for the cost to excavate the floor, but the locals donate money and soon $7,000 has been acquired and the digging begins on March 1st, 1967. According to the construction workers, children used to play in an abandoned kiln that had been buried in the area. After a weeks worth of digging, no signs of the Beaumont children are found. Croiset argues that only one of the places he suggested was actually dug up, and until his dying day, claims that the children were buried beneath the concrete.
Over the next thirtyyears this location would be a hotbed for theories and questions. Several excavations would take place and multiple pits were found beneath the earth. On at least two separate occasions, cadaver dogs were brought into search the area. On both trips the dogs indicated the exact same spot, but upon investigation and digs, no evidence of the Beaumont children was located. The statements of Croiset were highly debated, with most attributing his claims as pure fraud. Regardless of the theories of Croiset, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence to link the missing children with the concrete floor. In later years, Croiset’s interpreter would state that Croiset actually believed the children were buried beneath an apartment complex but didn’t want anyone to lose their home and so he suggested the warehouse instead.
Two years after the disappearance, in February of 1968, the Jim and Nancy Beaumont received a letter in the mail claiming to have been written by Jane, who would now be eleven. The envelope showed that it was postmarked in Dandenong, Victoria on February 21st. The handwriting did not resemble Jane’s, but both Nancy Beaumont and investigator Stanley Swaine believe they it was written by Jane. The letter said that the three children had been staying with a man and that they would be returned to their parents. The letter instructed Jim Beaumont to be standing in front of the Dandenong post office at 8:50am on Monday, February 26th and to wear a dark coat and white trousers. The letter further stipulated that if the police were told the deal would be off. Curiously, Jane’s sister Arnna’s name was misspelled in the letter, using only one “n” instead of two.
The Beaumont’s checked into the Commodore Motel in Dandenong with Swaine and a man named Bill Cotton coming along for surveillance. In order to keep the operation secret, Victoria police were not told about the meeting. Unfortunately, someone tipped off the media and they sent reporters to watch for the meeting. In addition to this, a local man reported Swaine as a suspicious character in the area as there had been a recent string of robberies, and when Victoria police investigated and found out that Swaine was an officer and that he had been working the Beaumont Children case, they became curious as to what he was doing in their area.
Jim was standing at the post office at 8:50am while Swaine wandering around, pretending to be out for a walk, but keeping the area under surveillance. At 9am postal employee Alice Parker received a phone call instructing her to deliver a message to the man outside. She went outside and informed Jim that a man with an Australian accent had called to say that they wouldn’t be long. A short time later, a messenger boy came out of the post office and delivered a similar message to Jim. Though it isn’t known for sure, it is believed that something in the message suggested to Jim to cross the street, which he did. A while later another message came through saying that his son, Grant, was sick, and that they wouldn’t be along until lunch time. By 3pm, Jim had given up on waiting. He returned for the next two days, but no further messages were delivered and his children were not returned to him.
Three more letters arrived at the Beaumont residence, with two claiming to have been written by Jane and a third in a different handwriting style was signed “The Man.” The letters explained that the children would not be returned because Mr. Beaumont had informed the police about the arrangement. Thirteen years later, in 1981, the letters were reexamined by handwriting analysts though nothing was found. Eleven years later, in 1992, new forensic approaches and fingerprinting techniques led to successfully identifying the author of the letters. The letters were written by a 41 year old man, 17 at the time they were written, who admitted to writing them as a joke. Jim Lister, the officer in charge of the Major Crime Task Force issued a statement reading: “We were able to confirm the letters were in fact written by the male person, they were a hoax, and were in no way connected with the disappearance of the three children. I understand the person involved is extremely remorseful and it would seem that an act he has carried out as an immature young person has come back to haunt him. Owing to the limitation of time statutes, no charges will be preferred.”
Few theories have been put forward in regard to the disappearance of the Beaumont children. For the most part, the most common theory is that the children were abducted and murdered. The abductor theory is by far the most popular, and as a result of this, several other cases with similarities were considered to be possible connection. In connection with these crimes come several possible suspects.
In 1973, eleven year old Joanne Ratcliffe and four year old Kirste Gordon disappeared from Adelaide Oval stadium during a football match. The two girls were believed to have been abducted and murdered. At approximately 3:45pm, Kirste asked to use the bathroom. Joanne was sent to accompany her and the two never returned. At 4:06pm, Mrs. Ratcliff went to the secretary’s office and requested that they page the girls. The secretary refused to do say, stating that it wouldn’t be heard over the sound of the crowd. Mrs. Ratcliffe was told to return to her seat and to report the incident to police if the children didn’t resurface. A thirteen year old boy reported seeing the girls coming down the stairs with an older man jogging after them. According to the boy, the man caught up to the girls, scooped one up and headed toward the exit while the other girl looked scared and grabbed at the man. Witnesses place the two girls in the company of an unidentified man within 90 minutes of their disappearance, and though descriptions were thin, the police sketch of the man resembled that of the blond man who had been seen in the company of the Beaumont children. This case was never solved an as recently as 2014 police have been following up on new leads. The two girls were last seen three kilometers from the Oval approximately 90 minutes after they disappeared, in the company of an unidentified man.
Another case with possible ties has come to be known as the family murders. In 1979 the body of twenty five year old Neil Muir was found in Adelaide. He had been mutilated and subject to some form of surgery. In 1982, the mutilated body of eighteen year old Mark Langley was found. He had had surgery performed on him as well, with his abdomen partially shaved and sliced open with part of his bowel removed. His cause of death was due to loss of blood. For the next several months more bodies were found including fourteen year old Peter Stogneff and eighteen year old Alan Barnes. Later they would discover the remains of fifteen year old Richard Kelvin. All victims had been mutilated in similar a similar fashion and police believe the crimes were committed by more than one person. They have described the assailants as having a core group of four individuals with up to as many as eight associates. Through the discovery of these murders, the police were able to locate a suspect who could possibly tie the so-called family murders to the disappearance of the Beaumont children. His name is Bevan Spencer Von Einem.
Bevan Von Einem first came into the public eye when he was given the title of The Good Samaritan. On May 10th, 1972, two gay men were thrown into the River Torrens. The spot was well known as a place where homosexual men would meet up to engage in sexual acts covertly as, at that time, homosexual acts were illegal in South Australia. One of the men, Dr. George Duncan, drowned and the other, Roger James, sustained a broken leg and began crawling toward the road where a passing Einem spotted him and took him to Royal Adelaide Hospital. James refused to identify his attackers and it was long speculated that they had been police officers. The officers suspected of involvement were suspended and eventually resigned. On February 5th, 1986, two former police officers were arrested and charged with manslaughter in the death of Duncan but were found not guilty. The officers refused to testify.
On June 6th, 1983, Einem with possible unidentified partners abducted fifteen year old Richard Kelvin. Several witnesses heard cries for help, a door slamming and a car with a noisy exhaust speeding away. Einem proceeded to torture, drug, rape and hold Kelvin captive for five weeks before brutally murdering him. Einem dumped his body near an airstrip in Kersbrook, north east of Adelaide and near where Einem was living at the time. The body was not hidden and Kelvin was still dressed in the clothing he was wearing the night he vanished. The body was posed in the fetal position. A coroners inquisition found that Kelvin had died due to blood loss due to an anal injury likely caused by the insertion of a blunt object. Toxicology found traces of four hypnotic drugs including Mandrax and Noctec. Police began searching for people with prescriptions to these drugs and Einem’s name came up on their list. Police were immediately interested as they had previously questioned Einem in connection with the murder of three other young men and the sexual assault of a fourth.
Police questioned Einem, who claimed he was home sick the night Kelvin was murdered, but police found Mandrax in his home. He claimed to use the drug to aid with insomnia. When asked if he were in possession of any other drugs, he told the police he was not, but they also found Noctec in his home, hidden on a ledge behind his dresser. According to police, they were immediately suspicious of Einem when they knocked on his door and his first response was that he wouldn’t talk without a lawyer present. He also denied the presence of other drugs, outside of Mandrax, and when confronted with the Noctec informed police that he only used it rarely. He was reported to seem nervous at this point in time. Police took samples of Einem’s hair and blood, along with swatches of carpet.
Forensic examination found matches to fibers found on Kelvin and the carpet samples they removed from Einem’s home and hairs that also matched Einem. The 1979 unsolved murder of eighteen year old Alan Barnes shared many similarities to that of Kelvin. An informant, known only as “Mr. B” informed police that he and Einem used to pick up young men who were hitchhiking, take them back to Einem’s home where they would drug them, abuse them and turn them loose the next day. According to “Mr. B”, others were involved as well and he provided information about them, but insisted he himself had not been involved in any murders. The others he named were questioned, but refused to give any information about the crimes. On November 3rd, 1983, Einem was arrested and charged with the murder of Richard Kelvin.
Faced with overwhelming evidence, Einem changed his story and said that he had in fact be with Kelvin that night, but according to him, the two had only talked and spent time together in his home. Einem would claim that he dropped Kelvin off later that night and gave him $20.00 for a taxi ride home. Unfortunately for Einem, his new version of events presented to major issues. Firstly, it completely contradicted his original statement that he was home sick that night, and secondly, according to forensic examiners, the amount of fibers found on Kelvin were too many to have only been in Einem’s home for just a few hours and it was more likely it had been days.
During the course of his trial, Einem was implicated and charged in the murders of eighteen year olds Mark Langley and Alan Barnes. Mr. B, the prosecutions key witness, tied Einem to all of the murders, and during trial, alleged that Einem had also been involved in the disappearance of the Beaumont Children as well as the two girls who had been abducted from the Adelaide Oval. Unfortunately, there was no evidence nor witnesses who could corroborate these claims. Ultimately Einem was convicted of the murder of Richard Kelvin, though there didn’t appear to be enough evidence to convict him of the others, he is still considered the prime suspect.
Einem was sentenced to life in prison and could not become eligible for parole until 2007. In the years since he was imprisoned, Einem has been a source of great speculation in relation to the disappearance of the Beaumont children, as well as several other unsolved crimes. On August 11th, 2007, investigators made a request for information indentifying a man seen on news footage in the days following the disappearance of the Beaumont children. In addition to this possible sighting, a man standing next to the alleged young Einem closely resembled the police sketch of the blond man seen with the children on Australia Day in 1966. During his time in prison, Einem has been punished for raping other inmates as well as possessing child pornography. Whether or not he is linked to the disappearance of the Beaumont children remains unknown, though many firmly believe he was involved. It should be noted, Einem would have been 31 years old in 1966 and a leaked confidential police report lists Einem as a suspect in the Beaumont children’s disappearance.
Another suspect is Arthur Stanley Brown. In 1998, Brown was charged with the 1970 murders of sisters Judith and Susan Mackey, seven and five years old, in Townsville, Queensland. The two girls vanished while on their way to school on August 26th. They were just 200 meters from their home when they went missing. Their bodies were recovered several days later in a dry creek bed 25 kilometers (16 miles) south-west of Townsville. Susan’s body was found first and footprints led from her remains to those of her sister. It was theorized that Susan had run while her sister was being murdered but that the killer had chased her down. Autopsies revealed that Susan had been raped, strangled and stabbed three times in the chest. It’s possible the stab wounds were post-mortem. Judith had also been raped and stabbed three times in the chest, though her cause of death was listed as asphyxiation by sand. Their school uniforms, straw hats and shoes were found beside their bodies. Their uniforms were folded neatly and placed inside their school bags while each shoe contained a neatly folded sock.
Unable to find any leads, police interviews over 6,000 men in the area and came up empty handed. They put together a $10,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest and even offered a pardon for any accomplice who may have been involved. A witness came forward who had seen the girls talking to a man in a car at the bust stop at approximately 8:10am. Just after 11am, a similar car pulled into a filling station, purchasing $3.00 worth of gas. Jean Thwaite, an attendant at the station, recalled seeing two girls in the car. According to her statement, one girl was quoted as asking “Are we there yet” while the other girl asked “When are you taking us to mummy? You promised to take us to mummy.” Shortly after this sighting, Neil Lunney, a soldier home from Vietnam, was cut off by a driver and spoke to him. According to Lunney, there were two girls in the car wearing school uniforms and the driver was acting strange. Both accounts were dismissed as both witnesses described the car as being a Vauxhall whereas other corroborated witnesses described the vehicle as a Holden.
Despite the variations in model, both vehicles were described as being blue and descriptions of the driver matched. The man was said to have high cheekbones, a narrow skull, short dark hair and large, protruding ears. Interestingly, the car was described as having a driver’s door which was a different color from the rest of the car. One witness would later identify Brown as being the driver that day. Brown was arrested and charged with the murders in 1998 when Brown was 86 years old. Interestingly, at the time of the crime, police were unable to locate the vehicle, but during the trial which took place twenty-eight years after, it was revealed that Brown had in fact owned a blue Vauxhall with an off colored driver’s door.
Brown was arrested as the result of a phone call to crimestoppers placed by a cousin of his wife’s. Following up on this call, and interviewing family members of Brown’s resulted in 45 instances of pedophilia related to Brown, and circumstantial evidence linking him to the sister’s murders. Brown had been working as a carpenter at the school the girls attended, was reported to have been obsessed with the case, claimed to have known their father and reportedly told his wife that he could take her to the murder scene. It was also discovered that on several occasions Brown had admitted to the murders. Brown was subsequently arrested on 45 counts of sexual assault and the rape of six children ages three to ten years old, as well as for the murders of the MacKay sisters. The trial officially began on October 18th, 1999.
A jury was unable to reach a verdict and in an attempt to pursue another trial, it was determined that Brown was unfit to stand trial as he was suffering from dementia and alzheimer’s disease. Brown passed away on July 6th, 2002 at the age of 90. Ostracized by his family following his arrest, his stepson Robert spoke at his funeral, saying “I can’t believe such an insignificant little arsehole had such a profound effect on so many people’s lives.” Police have since closed the file on the MacKay sister’ murder, fully believing that Brown was the killer.
There are no hard links connecting Brown to the disappearance of the Beaumont children, and it is unknown if he had ever traveled to Adelaide. However, a witness claims to have had a conversation with Brown in which he stated that he had been to the Adelaide Festival Center. Brown also closely resembled the police sketch of the blond man seen with the children the day they vanished. It’s nearly impossible to track Brown’s whereabouts at the time as a flood in Brisbane destroyed many records and Brown had access to government sites related to his job and could have possibly destroyed work records which would have placed him in the area. Regardless of the lack of evidence, next to Einem, Brown is considered by many to be one of, if not the prime suspect in the disappearance of the Beaumont children.
Another suspect, though to a lesser extent is convicted murderer and suspected serial killer James Ryan O’Neill. In February of 1975, nine year old Ricky John Smith was abducted and O’Neill participated in the search efforts for the boy. Over the course of the next two weeks, five other children were abducted but all managed to escape. Later, nine year old Bruce Colin Wilson was abducted and his body was found in May of 1975 near Ridson Vale. O’Neill was picked up as a suspect and subsequently led police to the body of Ricky Smith. O’Neill was arrested for both the murder of Smith and Wilson, but was only tried for Ricky Smith’s murder. O’Neill plead insanity reality to a gunshot wound he sustained in 1969 and later claimed that police had held a gun to his head in order to gain a confession from him.
A jury deliberated for just three hours and found O’Neill guilty of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison and has applied for parole several times, though he is always denied and today is the longest imprisoned man in Tasmania. It has been alleged that O’Neill may have been Adelaide at the time that the Beaumont children disappeared. In the early 1970’s, O’Neill reportedly told several people that he was responsible for the disappearance. O’Neill later claimed to have never been in Adelaide, though trips he took for his job would have run him through and passed Adelaide multiple times around the time the children vanished. When O’Neill was asked point blankly whether or not he was involved in the disappearance he responded “Look, on legal advice I am not going to say where I was or when I was there.” Some consider him a viable suspect, though South Australian police questioned him and ruled him out as a suspect. Others argue that he cannot be ruled out as a possibility.
Allan McIntyre, often known as Max, was accused of possible involvement in the disappearance by an unlikely source: His own son, Andrew McIntyre. According to a diary Andrew kept in the 1960’s, his father was present at Glenelg beach the day the Beaumont children vanished. The diary has since been turned over to Adelaide police. It reportedly placed McIntyre, and family friend, Anthony Munro at the beach that day. According to Andrew, he was meant to go to the beach with his father and Munro that day, but his invitation was rescinded at the last minute. According to Andrew, he remembers his father and Munro seeming upset upon their return from the beach and that he recalls seeing blood and sand in Munro’s car. The story was corroborated by Andrew’s sister, Ruth, who also claimed that she saw a child’s body in the back of the car. Andrew admitted to being sexually assaulted by Munro when he was a child, and the physical description of the unknown man seen with the Beaumont children fits well with Munro’s appearance in 1966. Just a few months ago, in June of 2017, Allan McIntyre died in a nursing home, forever releasing him from every being tried in relation to the disappearance. Munro is 75 years old today, and facing sentencing for 10 child sex offenses including unlawful sexual intercourse against a child under 14, buggery and gross indecency on Kangaroo Island, Rapid Bay and Glenelg.
Munro was a scout leader back in the 1960’s and sexually assaulted multiple boys during this time. Following his time in Australia, he moved to Cambodia around 2008 and opened a so-called “lady boy” bar which he described as “a gay friendly bar.” Munro returned to Australia to answer questions regarding previous crimes and was tried for the 10 counts of sex offenses between 1962 and 1983, for which he was found guilty. Cambodian officials were also investigating him for sexually assaulting two boys. Adelaide police questioned Munro in regard to the Beaumont children but have stated they have no hard evidence which links him to the crime, though it is an ongoing investigation.
Derek Percy has also been linked to the possible murder of the Beaumont children. Percy was in prison after pleading insanity when charged with the 1969 murder of Yvonne Tuohy. According to reports of the time, Percy, a naval man, arrived on a beach in Westernport Bay, Victoria, while on leave for the weekend. He spotted twelve-year old Yvonne talking to her friend, eleven year old Shane Spiller and approached, grabbing Yvonne and holding a knife to her throat. It’s believed he was going to grab Shane as well, but Shane had a tomahawk with him and began flailing it at Percy. Percy fled with Yvonne and Shane managed to give a full description of Percy, his vehicle and a naval badge on the car. Police managed to find Percy within three hours of when he took Yvonne, and when they located him, he was washing blood out of his clothing.
He was also linked to several other unsolved child murders, though he couldn’t be officially tied to them. His insanity plea was partially linked to a psychological condition in which he cannot remember his actions. He allegedly indicated that he may have been responsible for murdering the Beaumont children but could not remember whether or not he did. He was known to be in the area at the time of their disappearance. On August 30th, 2007, Victorian Police successfully were granted permission to question Percy in relation to the disappearance. Percy was seventeen at the time of the crime, but wasn’t known to have a car and police firmly believe the responsible party had access to a vehicle, though it cannot be ruled out that Percy could have had an accomplice, though that didn’t appear to be his style as he was a solo act. Percy died in 2013, having been in prison since 1969. In addition to possibly being involved in the abduction of the Beaumont children, Percy is also suspected of the double murder of Marianne Schmidt and Christie Sharrock as well as the murders of Allen Redston, Linda Stilwell and Simon Brook. In October of 2014 he was formally ruled to have abducted and murdered seven year old Linda Stilwell in 1969.
It is strongly believed that the Beaumont children were abducted on the last day they were seen and that the abductor likely murdered them and disposed of their bodies within the first twelve hours that he had them. Initially, Police consider the possibility that the children were swept into the sea and drowned, but this is ruled out when they fail to locate any items belonging to the children and they consider it highly unlikely that the children and all of their belongings and clothing would be swept away without something surfacing. In November of 2013, a factory in North Plympton was excavated based on a tip about the Beaumont children. Ground penetrating radar found a small anomaly, but further digging found nothing.
In the fifty one years since the disappearance, very little new leads have been developed and all suspects are connected only through circumstantial evidence at best. For many years following the loss of their children, Jim and Nancy Beaumont continued to live in the same home together but when the pain and stress became too much the two divorced and moved away, beginning new lives, but never forgetting about their lost children. Both chose to avoid the public eye and to live quiet, restrained lives far from the terrible memories of that Australia Day in 1966.
Days before the fiftieth anniversary of the disappearance, Detective Superintendent Des Bray said police still receive a call every four or so days in relation to the case. In the previous two years over 160 calls had come in. Bray stated “There have been hundreds of people put forward over time, the window of opportunity to get a result is in decline. The person who committed this offense, if alive today, would be between the ages of 70 and 100.” If alive today, Jane Beaumont would be 60, Arnna would be 58 and Grant would be 56. Their disappearance sparked change in Australia, signaling the end of the carefree unlocked doors and everybody knows everybody mentality. It rung in a time of strangers lurking on the street corners, an air of suspicion and doubt. It became the most widely covered crime in the history of Australia to that time, and despite witnesses and leads, the answer as to what happened to the children was never found. Their lives were stolen from them, and in addition to the loss of their lives, their parents were sent spiraling into the darkness of grief and the pain of the unknown. Someone is responsible for what happened, and someone knows the answers. Whether or not that person is still alive, we cannot know for sure, and whether or not we ever find out what happened to Jane, Arnna and Grant Beaumont is a mystery that becomes less and less likely of being solved with each passing day.
[Thoughts & Theories]
The Disappearance of the Beaumont children is one of the most famous missing persons cases in all of Australia. Many people designate Australia Day, 1966, as a day where innocence was forever lost, and the perception of close neighbors and quiet towns changed. Retrospect always come with a certain rosey tiny, and I’ve certainly read the accounts of others who feel that the dangers are always known and the tragedy of the Beaumont children was another indication that we live in a dangerous world and not even innocent children are safe. Regardless, it’s one of those bogeyman stories kids are told about why you should never talk to strangers. I first learned of this case several years ago, and was surprised that I hadn’t heard of it before, but that isn’t all that uncommon. Many sad and fascinating cases from outside of the United States aren’t given as much attention as they could be, for whatever reason, be it ratings or local interest or simply an arbitrary decision. For me, the Disappearance of the Beaumont Children is as captivating as it is heart breaking.
Although this case has been on my list for a while, I wasn’t initially planning to touch on it yet. It was in the undecided column as though it is a case which deserves a great deal of attention, it has been covered by many different outlets. Several other podcasts have covered the Beaumont Children and there have been several books and countless newspaper articles. Then I began going back through my messages from listeners and I discovered that the disappearance of the Beaumont Children was the case with the most requests. For months now I have wanted to do an episode which focuses in on an Australian case, being that such a large contingent of listeners are in Australia. I wanted to pick the right case, and initially I had a completely different case lined up, but based on requests, I thought I would cover this one. Interestingly I found that, for most of the requests, listeners didn’t think I was going to find any new revelations, but they wanted to hear me apply my thoughts to the theories and suspects. I hope you’ll be satisfied with the results.
In a lot of the coverage that I went through I found one common thread which disturbed me. In many media sources the case was always written or spoken about in terms of who was responsible. Obviously, that is a question we need an answer to, but this case, at its heart, is about three small children who vanished and the broken parents who were left behind. I always find it a bit disturbing when people talk about this case as though it’s a fun mystery or it’s an exciting topic. It’s a tragic store of loss and of grief and these children deserved better. They will never know what kind of lives they may have had, their parents never had the opportunity to witness them growing up and making adult choice, or even perhaps some day to have provided them with grandchildren. Jim and Nancy Beaumont were absolutely devastated by the loss of their entire family. Jane, Arnna and Grant were all they had in the world and in the blink of an eye, everything was gone. The two tried their best to move on with their lives, but when the memories became too painful, and the grief too strong, they divorced and move away, the final tie that bound the family was then cut. So, what happened to the Beaumont children?
Summarizing the comings and goings of the children that day, there are a few things we know for certain. All three children boarded the bus at approximately 10:10am and were dropped off on Moseley Street, just a quick walk away from the beach by 10:15am. Where the children went or what they did between 10:15 and 11am is unknown and there are no sightings reported, but at 11am, Postman Tom Patterson spots the children. Of course, this sighting though considered verified, has been thoroughly debated with even Patterson stating that he didn’t know if it took place earlier in the day or later. I always found this detail very strange. Many people think it’s fairly normal, and honestly, there are days where I couldn’t tell you exactly what time something occurred while I was at work, but I usually know a general time. I find it odd that someone couldn’t remember whether he had seen the children in the morning or several hours later. There isn’t enough information on Patterson to figure out a reason behind it, and I suppose it’s entirely possible that he was confused, but I’ve often wondered if he had any issues related to his memory.
The children were meant to return on the 12pm bus, but were not on it when Nancy waited for them at the stop. They were not on the 2pm nor the 3pm bus. Nancy was, understandably, freaking out at this point and when Jim arrived home at approximately 3:30pm, he went out looking for the children. When he had no luck, he swung back home and picked up Nancy so she could help him look. The two parents searched for the children until nearly 7:30pm before finally calling the police. Unfortunately, this delay gave any would be perpetrator the ability to get far away before local authorities were aware. It’s hard to judge their behavior because they would obviously be frantic and not thinking straight, but this delay in reporting the children as missing actually raised some red flags with investigators also. For a short period of time, police considered the possibility that Jim and Nancy could have possibly been involved in the disappearance of their children.
The Police launched a search that night, though the children wouldn’t officially been listed as missing until the next morning. The search efforts for the Beaumont children were unprescedented at the time and ranged far and wide. Between police officers and volunteers, thousands of people were involved in scouring every inch of land from the Beaumont home to Glenelg beach and beyond. The media quickly picked up in the story and within days it became the talk of the country garnering remarkable exposure for the victims and helping to widen the net of the manhunt. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, nothing turned up and no trace of the children was found. Police were absolutely baffled, trying to understand how three children could just vanish into thin air and not a single trace could be found, not something as small as an article of clothing or hair tie.
Several witnesses had seen the girls that day, and of those witnesses, many described a yet unidentified man in their company. He was first seen with the children on the lawn at Collery Reserve, playing in the sprinklers with them. An artists composite of his face would spread like wildfire throughout Australia, but honestly, it is such a vague image it’s almost impossible to tie it to any particular person. To me, it barely looks like a man. It’s almost a rhorschak test image where your mind could fit almost any man’s face into it. He was described as in his 30’s, blond hair with a thin to muscular build and tanned skin. Everyone who saw him that day described him similarly and yet he was never positively identified.
The children are also seen in a cake shop, purchasing their usual order of treats, but this time, they also order a meat pie. They pay with a one pound note, and no one can determine exactly from where they got it. Nancy is adamant that she only gave the children change, so police are led to believe that the one pound note was from their abductor, and that the meat pie, was for him. This may explain why they entered the cake shop alone as he may have not wanted to spotted close up by the shopkeeper, though he didn’t seem even remotely concerned about being spotted by anyone on the lawn of the Collery Reserve. The shopkeeper was familiar with the children as they had come in several times before, familiar enough to know that it was out of character for them to get a meat pie. I think it’s possible that the man knew that if he entered the shop that the shopkeeper might ask him questions, or at a minimum, make note of his appearance and he didn’t want to risk it.
Later witnesses saw the man and the children again sometime between 11:45 and 12:15pm back on the lawn at Collery Reserve. According to these witnesses, the man changed the children’s clothing and then went to change his own. The witnesses report finding this very strange and that they felt the children were likely old enough to have changed themselves. Nancy has stated that she can’t believe her shy daughter would have allowed a man to change her, let alone in such a public arena. Interestingly, one witness would later say that the man left the children at a bench where they sat and waited patiently while he went into the changing rooms and changed out of his bathing suit. At this point in time, he returned, and the children walked away with him never to be seen again. What I’ve always found fascinating about this instance is that when he first returned, with the children, he spoke to several witnesses and asked if they had seen anyone going through his clothes as he was missing some money. If you’re planning on abducting some children, and you’re smart enough to not enter the cake shop with them, why would you draw attention to yourself in this way? I’ve never been able to wrap my head around it.
There are other sightings, but none which can be verified. One man believes to have seen the children and the man walking away from the beach at approximately 1:45pm, though he describes the man as having brown hair. Months after the disappearance a woman calls in a tip that she had seen the children being taken into an abandoned house in her neighborhood and that later in the night the boy, believed to be Grant Beaumont, was going down the street when the man reappeared and chased him down, bringing him back to the house. This is a highly disputed claim and the police found it unlikely to be true, and even if it were, it was impossible to verify it. Police also couldn’t understand why the witness would have waited so long to report what she had seen if she truly believed that she had seen the Beaumont children, who by that point, had their faces on fliers from coast to coast. Personally, I don’t put a lot of weight into this sighting. The other one, though, I think could easily have been true. The man may have gotten the hair color wrong, or perhaps the abductor wasn’t working alone. Hard to know without more details, but the police may have had a good reason to have discounted this sighting.
Within days of the disappearance there was hardly a soul in Australia who hadn’t heard the story. The search effort was massive, but had turned up nothing. Based on witness statements the police had a rough timeline of where the children had been, and they were able to determine that they had been abducted sometime after 12:15pm. Beyond that, everything was speculation. They had a rough description of a man seen with them, but no physical evidence or additional sightings. They quickly determined they were dealing with an abduction, but outside of increased searching, there wasn’t much they could do. They issued pleas to the community, but again nothing came out of it. Jim also went on television and entered a plea, but it didn’t result in any new tips or leads. The common belief among the police at the time is that the children were abducted, possibly sexually assaulted, and likely murdered within hours of their disappearance.
After months of nothing, police begin cutting back on the search efforts and reducing the number of officers assigned. In came alleged Dutch clairvoyant Gerard Croiset. The entire involvement of Croiset is suspect to me, and something I have great difficulty buying. I know that so-called psychics have been involved in investigations before, and that in some cases, they proved useful, but I also believe that when a case reaches a point where they are willing to follow the advice of a psychic, they are absolutely out of ideas and it’s more a case of “Well, it can’t hurt.” In the case of Croiset, I think it did hurt.
The entire concept of psychics is something I have a great deal of skepticism for. Without going into a debate about it, I’ve yet to see any evidence in relation to any alleged psychic that I feel lends creadence to the possibility. In Croisets case, his visions, and I use the term loosely, lead him to several different theories. First, he believes the children crawled into a drainage pipe and were buried alive when the pipe collapses. Later, after hearing about a concrete floor being poured, he changes his theory and says that the children are buried beneath it. Despite years of debate and several searches, nothing is ever found there. Jim Beaumont expressed quite adequately his distrust of the psychic, and that he didn’t think it would lead to anything. The police followed up on his suggestions, but mostly out of a lack of answers coming from anywhere else. Croiset maintained that the children were beneath the floor until his dying day, though his interpretor had a different opinion, saying that Croiset actually believed the children were buried elsewhere. Whether or not Croiset had any legitimate abilities, it didn’t work out in the case of Jane, Arnna and Grant.
Police continue to receive tips about the Beaumont children, but none have ever led to anything susbstantial. The case has become extremely popular since the advent of the internet and several theories have been suggested. Most of the theories revolve around abduction, but vary based upon who is believed to have been involved. There is a short suspect list, but there hasn’t been enough evidence to link any particular individual, or group of people, to the crime. Almost immediately, police ruled out the possibility of a runaway situation. Their belief was that one child might choose to runaway, but it was extremely rare that all three would. They also found nothing in their investigation to suggest that the children had anything to runaway from in their home life. I would have to agree with the dismissal of running away as a possibility. The children frequented the beach, had gone and come back multiple times and by all accounts belonged to a loving family.
The most popular theory, and in my opinion, the most likely theory is that the children were abducted. The interesting question is whether it was an abduction by someone they had just met, or if it’s possible that they were abducted by someone they had spent time with previously. Police have theorized over the years that it’s entirely possible that the children had known their abductor, at least to some degree. There is the statement from Arnna that Jane had a boyfriend at the beach. Is it possible that she was referring to the man who would later abduct them? Absolutely.
The children were comfortable around him, comfortable enough to laugh and play with him and to likely have taken money from him in order to purchase the meatpie and snacks with a one pound note. Also, we have to consider the clothing changing. Nancy was adamant that Jane was a very shy girl and that she found it incredibly hard to believe that she would have allowed a stranger to change her, especially in public. This, coupled with the way witnesses said they behaved around the man, leads me to believe that the child had likely met the man before and he had spent some time developing a level of trust and comfort with them. This would also lend itself to being one of the reasons the children were never found. If this crime had been conducted by someone who planned to earn their trust, he likely would have also planned out exactly what he would do after taking them. The sheer fact that no trace of the children was ever found makes me think that this wasn’t just a random snatch job. It was clearly thought out and executed efficiently.
Some believe that it was just a random grab, but I find that hard to believe. First and foremost, we have the witness accounts, but in addition to that, we aren’t talking about grabbing a child and running off with her. There are three children involved, and trying to take control of all three without drawing attention to what was happening would have been extremely difficult. If you’ve been around children much, it’s hard to control one, let alone three. I think a perfect stranger would have found it difficult to get them to go along with him, though it cannot be completely ruled out. If perhaps he had a weapon and threatened one, the others might go along with it. There is also the possibility that the abductor or abductors could have tricked the children in some way. We’ve all heard the stories of abductors telling children they’ve lost a puppy or their parents are hurt and they were sent to get them. Again, though, we know the children were playing with the man earlier in the day and to me, this makes it extremely unlikely that he tried to pull one of these tricks of them.
According to recent statistics, there are three types of child abductors: Family member abductors, which accounts for 49% of all child abductions, acquaintance abductions, which accounts for 27% and stranger abductions which accounts for 24%. That means in 76% of child abductions, the perpetrator knew the victim. Interestingly, most family abductions involve a higher percentage of female perpetrators than others, however, the majority of stranger abductions target female victims. It’s extremely rare for three children to be taken all at once. In 80% of stranger abductions the first contact between the victim and the abductor take place within a quarter mile of the child’s home and 74% of the victims of stranger abductions are female. Also, 74% of abducted children who become murder victims are murdered within three hours of their abduction. This fits with the police theory that the children were likely murdered within hours of their abduction.
Out of the abduction theory came a handful of possible suspects. Each of them is connecting to other crimes against children in some way. Some were convicted of their crimes, while others were never tried or couldn’t be tried. The first suspect, and the one who is primary on most people’s lists is Bevan von Einem. Einem was alleged to have worked with a group of other twisted killers, but none of these people has ever been arrested or tried in connection to any of the crimes for which Einem was suspected to be responsible. Einem was tried and convicted of the murder of Richard Kelvin. He is suspected in five other murders. The only piece of information which linked Einem to the Beaumont children was testimony by a confidential informant named “Mr. B” who is alleged to have been involved in the rape of young men in conjunction with Einem.
Although Einem is clearly a twisted individual with sick tendancies and a history of murder, there are several details about his crimes which make me personally think he wasn’t responsible for the disappearance of the Beaumont children. First and foremost, Einem targeted males. He was homosexual, or at least bisexual, and admittedly engaged in sex acts with men, both with and without their consent. The youngest victim to whom he is connected is the one for which he was sentenced to life, fourteen year old Richard Kelvin. He didn’t appear to target children as young as the Beaumont’s, and with his predilection for males, it would be extremely out of character that he would be drawn to a four year old boy such as Grant. You also have to consider the manner in which he disposed of the bodies. Einem wasn’t much for covering his tracks, and in almost every single murder for which he is suspected, the bodies were merely dumped in locations where they were quickly found.
All of these details make it hard for me to put Einem as the man responsible for the disappearance. It is said that Einem resembled the composite sketch of the unidentified man seen with the Beaumont children, but as I’ve said previously, that sketch is extremely vague. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Einem could have been involved in the crime, or perhaps even associated with someone responsible for it, but for me, I don’t think he is the most likely suspect. Police differ in opinion, and it was leaked that a confidential document lists him as a suspect. I certainly think he should be looked at in connection with the crime, but he’s been serving life in prison since 1983 and no charges in relation to the case have ever been levied against him.
Another suspect was Arthur Stanley Brown. Brown is certainly a likely candidate, and his targeted victims fit more in line with the ages of the Beaumont children. At the time of his arrest he was charged with 45 instances of pedophilia. He was also charged with the murder of the MacKay sisters who vanished on their way to school. Their bodies were found in a dry creek bed. Both girls had been raped and stabbed. Brown had worked at their school and was reportedly obsessed with the case, even going so far as to admit that he was the responsible party to several individuals. His entire possible connection to the case stems from a witness who claims that, during conversation with Brown, he admitted to being in Adelaide around the time of the crime and his physical appearance matching the composite drawing. It’s fairly thin evidence, and there is nothing hard that links him to the Beaumont children. Unlike Einem, he was known to target children, specifically young girls. Many people consider him to be the most likely suspect, but it’s hard for me to put him at the top of the list. He was never convicted of any of the crimes for which he was tried. A hung jury resulted in the need for a second trial, and by the time it came around, Brown was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial. He died in 2000, and though no convictions were achieved, the police believe he was responsible for the murder of the MacKay sisters and have since closed the case. Brown is a possibility, and a good one, but it’s really hard to say he is most likely since there has never been a single piece of verifiable evidence to link him to the disappearance of the Beaumont children.
James Ryan O’Neill has been considered a suspect by some. He is currently serving a life sentence for the 1975 murder of nine year old Ricky John Smith. He is suspected in the abduction and murder of several others, though no evidence has been provided to link him directly. O’Neill strikes me as the type who likes the attention he gets from his possible connection to other murders. When asked about the Beaumont children, he doesn’t deny it, he simply refuses to answer the question based on advice from his lawyer. If he truly wanted his name erased from that connection, he’d have something else to say. I don’t think O’Neill was involved in the abduction, there just isn’t much to connect him, if anything at all. His alleged involvement in the case stems from him supposedly telling others that he was responsible. Hard to know for sure, but considering the way he seems to revel in the attention, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he had claimed to have been involved just to get the attention. O’Neill is serving life for crimes and outside of refusing to answer the question about the Beaumont children he has never had anything else to say on the matter.
Andrew McIntyre came forward not long ago and stated that he believes his father, Allan “Max” McIntyre and his good friend, Anthony Alan Munro may have been responsible for the disappearance of the Beaumont children from Glenelg Beach. Reportedly there is a diary which dates back to 1965 and Andrew was one of the contributors to this diary, referred to as the Salvage and Exploration Club diary. Andrew, now 63 years old, released a statement saying “The day the Beaumont Children disappeared was a shocking day in history that stands out in my memory very clearly. I believe Tony and Max were involved in the disappearance of the Beaumont children.” Essentially, Andrew has said that he was supposed to go to Glenelg beach with his father on Australia day in 1966, but that at the last minute, his father told him he could not go and instead went to the beach with Tony Munro. As early of 2007, McIntyre’s daughter, Ruth Collins, made allegation to police that she believed her father was responsible for the crime. Police did investigate, but were unable to find any evidence linking McIntyre to the disappearance. Now that Andrew has come forward with the diary, which places his father and Munro at the beach that day, the investigation has heated back up. A police spokeswoman stated “Police have undertaken many actions and lines of inquiries in relation to this matter.. there is no evidence at all to support these claims.”
According to Andrew, upon McIntyre and Munro’s return from Glenelg beach that day, both were visible upset. Andrew says they were standing by the car with their hands on their heads, muttering obscenities. He also claims to have seen blood and sand in the car, while his sister has said she saw at least one child’s body in the car and that her father’s shirt was covered in blood. They have said they believe the bodies are inside of a filled in well on McIntyre’s property outside of Adelaide. McIntyre would die before he could ever been thoroughly looked at following links to the diary, but Munro remains alive today and is currently in custody and awaiting sentencing for 10 child sex offenses for which he was found guilty. Interestingly, there is some belief that police did not investigate McIntyre because he had worked with them before. McIntyre worked for the phone company, and some have suggested that he tapped phone lines for police investigations in the past, and that this may have afforded him some leeway with their investigation. Munro, on the other hand, is a former boy scout leader with a long history of child abuse and pedophilia. Many link Munro to the disappearance as he resembles the composite of the man seen with the Beaumont children that day, as well as fitting the description of the blond haired man.
This is one of the more recent sets of suspects, and without further investigation, it’s difficult to see a link other than the fact that they were reportedly in the area of Glenelg beach on that terrible day in 1966. Although I think these are viable suspects who warrant further investigation, it seems out of character. Their behavior was typically to sexually assault younger children, but in no other instances are they accussed of murder. Andrew McIntyre himself claims to have been sexually assaulted by Munro many times over the years. It’s quite a leap, to go from assaulting children to whom you have access, as Munro would as a scout leader and friend of Andrew’s father, to a brazen broad daylight grab of three small children and then to murder them. I certainly think there is something here, and probably the more digging investigators do, the more likely they are to find links to other crimes against children, but I’m not sure I can see the connection to the Beaumont children. Andrew and his sister have accused the men of being responsible, and allege to have seen evidence to link them to it, but one would have wonder why they waited over 40 years before saying anything about it to authorities? These two are a possibility, and perhaps more evidence will be found, but until that happens, it’s very difficult to tie them to the crime. McIntyre is now deceased, and Munro is facing spending the rest of his life in jail. Police may attempt to get him to talk in some kind of a deal, but short of a confession, it’s almost impossible to tie either man to the children.
The final suspect often considered a viable answer to the question of who took the Beaumont Children is Derek Percy. Percy is fascinating in connection to this case for multiple reasons: First, he’s in prison for murdering Yvonne Tuohy in 1969, just three years after the Beaumont children disappeared. When Percy was arrested for her murder, he claimed to have memory issues which would make it difficult to explain what happened. In order to get as many answers as he could, the investigating officer worked the timeline backwards, first having Percy lead him to the body, which he was able to do. Percy grabbed Yvonne in broad daylight on a beach in front of her friend and this makes a lot of people believe it’s highly possible he would have done the same to the Beaumont children. He held a knife to Yvonne’s throat to get her to come along, and many suspect he may have wielded a weapon on one of the Beaumont children to convince the others to come along as well.
Percy pled innocent by reason of insanity and was remanded to prison on a psych evaluation. Years later, while incarcerated, Percy were referred to as a Hannibal Lector like inmate with a high intelligence. Interestingly, he was a chess player and would later come out and make claims that he was not insane, and there was a lot of controversy in the papers regarding a possible release. He has been suspected in many other crimes, including the disappearance of the Beaumont children. He was a violent man with psychological problems who didn’t hesitate to commit a heinous crime against a child. Whether or not he has a true link to the disappearance, we may never know, and Percy was tight lipped never answering any questions about any others crimes for which he was considered a suspect. He died of cancer in 2013 at the age of 64, possibly taking many answers with him. To me, Percy is an interesting suspect, and certainly possible. Whether or not he is more or less likely than anyone else is difficult to determine.
Percy is often dismissed as a suspect because, at the time of the murder, he was 17 years old and didn’t have access to a car, which they believe was necessary to have gotten the children away without anyone noticing. There is the possibility, though, that Percy could have been involved with someone else, or that he borrowed a car from a friend or family member. It’s strange to write him off as a suspect based on such a weak set of information. Perhaps police know more than they are saying, which is usually the case with an ongoing investigation, but after 51 years, you’d imagine they might be a little more forth coming with any details they may have regarding the investigation that they have yet to release.
It’s challenging, dealing with this list of suspects. You have a cluster of a bunch of horrible people who are all capable of, and responsible for, terrible actions. All we can truly do is look at the evidence and see who fits, and who doesn’t. Each suspect fits in some ways, and not in others, so it’s a back to square one approach every time you look at a different name. When you look at crimes which were solved years after they took place, in many instances, you will find the perpetrators name in the case file. Police usually suspected the culprit early on, or interviewed him as part of their investigation. In this case, the police were unable to find anything which might provide answers, but we do know that several of these names were in the file. Was one of them responsible? I think there’s only two possibilities: Either one of these people committed this terrible crime, or, one of these men knows who did. Pedophiles and child murderers often communicate with each other and revel in their exploits, and men who lived in that dark world, even if not directly responsible, have likely heard tale of who was. The question is, without corroboration, could you really trust anything they have to say?
The police continue to receive tips and leads in this case. Between 2014 and 2016 there were 159 tips called in to crimstoppers. It’s a tragic story which galvanized the public and forever changed the way people viewed their homeland of Australia. People clung a little more closely to their children and advised them more thoroughly of the dangers of strangers. It’s a well known story, one which every Australian person I’ve ever spoken to is familiar with. It’s hard to imagine that 51 years later we are ever going to see a live recovery of Jane, Arnna and Grant. I agree with investigators that the most likely scenario is that they were abducted and murdered within hours of their disappearance. Whoever was responsible had some way to dispose of the children and their belongings without them every being found, but Australia is a vast continent with plenty of places to hide something if you don’t want it to be found.
It’s a really heartbreaking story. Every case involving a child is somehow more disturbing than those about an adult. In this case, three innocent children had their futures stolen from them by a sick individual, or group of persons, and fifty one years later, we have no answers. Jim and Nancy Beaumont never found out what happened to their three beautiful children. In 1990, computer generated images were released of what the children might look like at that time. Nancy and Jim requested that the pictures not be released, but several newspapers ran with them, and Nancy was reported to have been devastated and couldn’t look at them. The impact of the loss on their marriage was too great to bear and eventually the two divorced and moved away. Police maintain contact with them, and every time a new suspect is named, or new location of a possible burial site is released, they cooperate and are involved, but for the most part, they live quiet lives far away from the probing eye of the public. Today, Jim is 91 and Nancy is 89 and for the past fifty one years they have been haunted by what happened to their children and the absence of any answers to their questions.
Somewhere on the continent of Australia, somebody knows more than they have said. Jane, Arnna and Grant did not simply disappear that day in 1966. They were taken, and whoever took them, knows where they ended up, and to this day, they have remained hidden away and are yet to be found. Perhaps some day we will get some answers, and Jim and Nancy could be granted closure and justice before their lives come to an end. Until that time, the Disappearance of the Beaumont children remains one of the most disturbing and unanswered questions in Australia, and around the world.