FORGOTTEN BUSINESS. The disappearance of the Beaumont children, those little Australians who were swept away by the sea

Jane, Arnna and Grant Beaumont, aged 9.7 and 4 respectively, disappeared on January 26, 1966 on the beach at Glenelg, Australia. A look back at a case that shaped an entire country.

Australia, January 26, 1966. In the Somerton Park district, southwest of the city of Adelaide, three children are taking advantage of the hottest summer day to go to the beach. At 8:45 am, Nancy Beaumont put Jane, 9, Arnna, 7, and her little brother Grant, 4, on the bus to Glenelg Beach. She kisses them and reminds them to return around noon, not realizing that she will never see them again. Three hours later, Nancy is surprised that her little trio isn’t returning. She warns her husband Jim about a business trip, who rushes to the beach in search of his children. Without success. Around 5:30 p.m., the Beaumont spouses report the worrying disappearance.

First, the police searched Glenelg beach and its surroundings. There, several witnesses confirm that they saw the Beaumont children, but one detail challenges the investigators. Jane, Arnna and Grant have been seen several times in the company of a tall, blond, athletic man wearing only a bathing suit. According to some witnesses, the Beaumont children played happily with him and even left the beach with him around 12:15 p.m. Afterward, Little Jane would have passed Wenzel’s Bakery, a pastry shop not far from Glenelg Beach, where the owner said she bought $1 worth of candy and a meat pie. A fascinating detail, as Nancy Beaumont only gave her children six shillings and sixpence to pay for the bus journey.

A series of mysterious letters

Armed with this information, investigators launched a full-scale operation in Australia, but none of the equipment deployed would allow the investigation to move forward. Until 1968. Two years after their children’s disappearance, Nancy and Jim Beaumont find two mysterious letters in their mailbox. The first is said to have been written by Jane, the second by a man who claims to have made himself the “keeper” of the Beaumont children. In his letter, the latter says he is ready to return Jane, Arnna and Grant and gives their parents a place to meet. Upset, Nancy and Jim Beaumont head to the meeting place, followed closely by a police inspector. However, neither the man nor the children will ever appear at the specified location. Later, the Beaumont parents receive a new letter, in which Jane explains that her “guardian” had noticed the inspector’s presence when he came and eventually felt betrayed and decided to keep her with him.

In more than 55 years, none of the leads investigated by police have led to a trace of the Beaumont children. Several criminals, including child killer Bevan Spencer von Einem, Arthur Stanley Brown, who was accused of murdering his sisters, and Derek Ernest Percy, who was suspected of murdering several Australian children, have been suspected in particular without result. The latest twist in the investigation dates back to 2013 when the son of one Harry Phipps, who died in 2004, accused his father of playing a role in the Beaumonts’ disappearance. He confirms that on January 26, 1966 he saw Jane, Arnna and Grant digging a hole in his father’s garden at his request. Two other men, then young children, confirmed they had been paid by Phipps to do the same job that same weekend in 1966. Unfortunately, the police investigation yielded nothing.

“There isn’t anyone in this country who doesn’t want them found”

In 2019, Australian media announced the death of Nancy Beaumont, mother of three missing children, aged 92. On the sidelines of the news, Chief Inspector Des Bray, in charge of Serious Crimes, stated that he “would do everything humanly possible to locate the Beaumont children and bring them back to their families.” “I don’t think there’s anyone in this country who doesn’t want them found.he added. The 90-year-old father of Jane, Arnna and Grant still lives in the Adelaide area. The inquest into the Beaumont children’s disappearance is now the longest on record in Australia.

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