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Why That ‘Dingo’s Got My Baby’ Line Isn’t Funny

TIME

For years, whether or not you believed Lindy Chamberlain’s story depended on which nightmarish scenario you found more plausible: that a wild dog snatched her sleeping 9-week-old baby from a tent in the Australian outback, or that Lindy herself slashed the infant’s throat and then invented the farfetched story to cover up her crime.

Thirty-two years ago today, on Oct. 29, 1982, a jury went for the latter interpretation and convicted Chamberlain of murder. She was sentenced to a lifetime behind bars. The case gained international notoriety, inspiring the 1988 film A Cry in the Dark, in which Meryl Streep, as Chamberlain, shouts the words that would become a morbid punch line: “The dingo’s got my baby!”

The couple was exonerated after the baby’s knit jacket appeared in 1986, partly buried next to a remote dingo lair. Chamberlain was freed and the guilt was redistributed to those who had…

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