Saturday, 11 August 2007

The Ghost of the Ghost of the Beumont Children

I noticed this at work yesterday.

The article in question is about the appearance of one Bevan Spencer von Einem in some archival footage of the search for the Beaumont Children.

Firstly the only real link that I can see between the two is that they both have something to do with the criminal history of the city of Adelaide.

For those that don't know, Bevan Spencer von Einem is a convicted sex offender and former Good Samaritan. I know that sounds weird but he did save the life of Roger James, a man who had been beaten and thrown into the River Torrens for being a homosexual. However von Einem was later convicted of the rape and murder of Richard Kelvin. He was convicted in 1984, and the series of murders that he was suspected of at the same amount of time are known as the Family Murders, since the media believed that there was some form of secret society covering his tracks.

The Beaumont Children disappearance (1966) has a few dubious honours. Firstly after the Wanda Beach murders of the previous year it is considered a major turning point in the Australian lifestyle. Secondly it is remembered for having the largest police investigation in Australian history. Now so I don't spend too much time prattling on about this and not getting to what I want to say, I will give a background that is probably shorter then it should really be.

On Australia Day (January 26th) 1966 the three children of the Beaumont family, Jane (9), Arnna (7) and Grant (4) went to Glenelg for a day at the beach. They lived in Somerton Park which is not that far away from Glenelg or a beach. They left in the morning and never returned home. Despite police searching, false letters, help from the media, 'psychics', and a rather substantial reward no trace of them was found. To this day the case remains unsolved and also changed the Australian way of life. Unlike the Wanda Beach murders where the two girls, Christine Sharrck and Marianne Schmidt were murdered in a somewhat remote part of the Sydney foreshore the Beaumont's disappeared from a packed Glenelg beach. This fear was reinforced after the disappearance of Joanne Ratcliffe and Kirsty Gorden (11 and 4 respectively) from the packed Adelaide Oval in 1973 and parents became more vigilant (this case was never solved as well).

And now to the whole point of this post.

There are two 'ghosts' of this case. The first is the actual case the ghosts of the children who most likely never grew up at all. The second is one of the media's creation.

Every few years the media will dig up this case and bring it to the limelight. I would say that the first instance of this would have to be with the trial of Bevan Spencer von Einem. There a witness, known as 'B', stated that von Einem was the culprit in the Beumont and Adelaide Oval cases with no actual evidence to support it.

From it's start in 1994 the current affairs show (read: phoney made up rubbish designed to provide people with a different kind of soap opera) Today Tonight has been bringing this back into the limelight with it's latest "The Beaumont children are located in [insert location here]" (i.e. New Zealand, a cult somewhere, Queensland) or "We have 'evidence' as to who did it" story which is stupid enough because the show has no real credibility to begin with.

However it has spread. On the Crime and Investigation Channel they ran a programme about the Beaumont Children and the Wanda Beach murders. The end of the programme they some interviews with some people who 'claimed' that their father had done it.

And now we have this, what you could really call a return to the earlier "von Einem did it" sort of thing.

The problem is that after all the TT 'stories' things that are probably legitimate seem completely pointless, the grasp of stupid television is starting to create an apathetic view on the case. People don't really care any more because the stupid stories have drowned out anything relevant.

Would people care about more important issues like in politics if a show like Today Tonight or A Current Affair produced stories that dealt with an important issue such as the budget to death?

I think so.

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