At 10 a.m., three children exited 109 Harding Street in Adelaide, South Australia. Jane, Kathleen, and Grant Beaumont promised their parents they’d return home by two later that day. They wanted to enjoy the fresh outdoors, buy some treats at a local store, and play on Glenelg beach nearby. The month was January and the year was 1966. All around the children, families, friends, and neighbors enjoyed the sunny day together.
The children took the bus to the beach. Nine-year-old Jane watched her younger siblings attentively. All three must have appeared full of life and excited to be outside as they rode the bus together. They probably giggled into their small hands over funny observations of other bus riders or an inside joke amongst themselves.
The exact details of what the children did that day aren’t exactly known, but one would assume they played on the beach like they had planned. When two p.m. rolled around, however, the Beaumont children didn’t return home with those familiar giggles or smiles.
In fact, they didn’t return at all.
Before judgements are casted on the parents, understand that during this time in history it wasn’t unusual for children to roam the streets unsupervised. People shared a common trust in their children and in their community. For the Beaumont children to spend the afternoon in town without their parents wasn’t uncommon. Dozens of other children were probably doing the same thing that day without their own parents there to make sure they were safe. Safety was not something just taken for granted, it was the norm children today wouldn’t understand.
As the police searched for the three children, more than a few people claimed they saw them with an athletic, tall blond man in his thirties. Apparently they appeared undisturbed, even relaxed and enjoying the company of this man.
At some point during the day, Jane bought pastries and one meat pie from a local shop. The shopkeeper told police she bought the food items with a pound. The shopkeeper, who was familiar with the Beaumont children as regular customers, also told the police he had never noticed them buy a meat pie before. The children’s mother also said she only gave the children enough money for the bus and pastries, and that money didn’t add up to a pound.
Did the children buy the meat pie for their new adult friend? Did he also give Jane the pound to make the purchase?
The mailman said he saw the children walking alone around three in the afternoon. He described them laughing together and holding hands. This information confused the police. If the children were regarded as reliable, obedient children––which they were––then the police didn’t get why the children would still be out an hour later than they were supposed to be back home. The police concluded that the mailman must have misremembered the time of day, and that he must have seen the children in the morning.
Jim and Nancy Beaumont’s faces not only revealed confusion, they appeared desperate. As the police told them what they had learned from witnesses, of their children hanging around with an older man, Nancy shook her head. She said her children weren’t sociable enough to strike up a quick friendship with a stranger. She even described them as shy.
Perhaps this man had a charm that opened up even the shyest child. Perhaps the children weren’t as relaxed as witnesses thought they saw them as.
Despite this man’s character or how he made the children feel, no one has seen this man or the children in decades. Today the missing Beaumont children case remains one of Australia’s coldest cases.
But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been sparks of hope along the way. Weeks ago an excavation was carried out at the New Castalloy factory after learning that someone had been paid to dig a hole on the site around the time the children disappeared. The excavation lead to only animal remains and other refuse, but nothing human.
There have been six suspects so far, as well as possible connections to other murders over the years. Although he died in 2004, Harry Phipps is one of those six suspects. He was named a suspect after his estranged son published a book about him in 2013, titled The Satin Man. Unfortunately, every area connected to Phipps that’s been excavated, including the New Castalloy factory, haven’t found anything of worth.
Other suspects are men who have been convicted as serial killers and men with a criminal history that stretched back before the Beaumont children’s disappearance. This disappearance remains as one of Adelaide’s (including Australia’s) most bizarre incidents, rivaling the Tamam Shud Case, or the Somerton Man; a body of an unknown man that was found on the same beach the children visited less than two decades before.
Information on the other suspects is vast and a lot of it too daunting to put into a post to be read in one sitting. Learning about this one case brings many others because of possible connections. One can learn just about anything about Australian crime through this one case. One will also understand why this one case changed more than just the community it occurred in.
Suddenly children aren’t allowed out of the house without a parent or trusted guardian. Suddenly the local beaches are patrolled more than they have ever been. Suddenly people are locking their doors not only at night, but during the day as well.
While disappearances are tragic, unexplained appearances are peculiar, even unworldly.
Nuremberg, Germany on May 26 in 1828 was balmy with perhaps a slight chill in the air. People carried on with their daily routine, enjoying spring and welcoming the oncoming summer. In the midst of people’s businesses and routines, a teenage boy stumbled down the street.
At first maybe no one paid him any mind. Those who did either ignored the boy’s confusion as well as their own. In his hand was a letter addressed to Captain von Wessenig. Perhaps because of the look on the boy’s blank face, whoever did finally notice him probably realized that he didn’t know where he was going, where von Wessenig lived, or even who von Wessenig was.
As the boy was eventually escorted to the address, he muttered incoherently. When von Wessenig finally received the letter, he read that Kaspar Hauser, the boy who gave him the letter, was given to the author as a baby. The boy had never left the room he was raised in, and while there he briefly learned how to read and write. Along with that letter was another, signed by Hauser’s mother, explaining that his father was a calvary officer who was now dead.
When von Wessenig tried speaking with Hauser, the boy could only stammer back in words that didn’t exist. The more Wessenig tried the more frustrated he became, and since he couldn’t get any answers out of Hauser, he had him imprisoned as a vagabond.
Throughout Hauser’s residency in Nuremberg, he learned how to adequately speak and write. Eventually he spoke well enough to explain that he was raised in a tiny, dark room that he never left until he stumbled his way to Nuremberg. Every morning he woke to a plate of bread and water, and when the water was exceptionally bitter Hauser slept exceptionally deeper, waking to clipped nails, hair, and an overall cleaner body.
His first encounter with a human was the man who taught him briefly how to read and write before he left the tiny room. The hand that overlapped Hauser’s to teach him to write was strong, authoritative. The voice may be imagined as direct, like the hand, or as a gentle whisper. Eventually the city of Nuremberg adopted Hauser by giving him an allowance and a place to stay with local schoolmaster and philosopher Friedrich Daumer.
Over a year later on October 17 Hauser was in the cellar alone while others ate lunch upstairs. What he was doing down there is a mystery. What happened to him down there is an even bigger mystery.
Upstairs everyone heard Hauser shriek in pain and violent shifting down in the cellar. Daumer raced down to find the young man holding a hand over a cut in his head. He assessed the wound and asked Hauser what had happened.
Hauser said a hooded man broke into the cellar with a sharp object. His heart hammering inside him, Hauser spun around to face the figure and was badly hurt. There were no signs of anyone else in the cellar or of anyone escaping, however. After Hauser recounted what had just happened, he also told Daumer what the hooded figure had said to him.
“You still have to die ere you leave the city of Nuremberg.”
Hauser said the voice belonged to the man who taught him how to read and write in the tiny room he was raised in. These words and Hauser’s claim spread throughout Nuremberg like wildfire, spurning rumors and theories that Hauser was an heir to the House of Baden. Apparently the Grand Duke of Baden and his wife had a child who died not long after he was born. The theory was that Hauser had been replaced with a dying baby and confined to a dark room until he was finally let out to roam the world as an illiterate idiot.
In April of 1830 gunfire boomed in the room Hauser was staying in at another family’s house. Whoever was taking care of him at the time scrambled to his room, throwing open the door. Hauser was looking down at the blood in his hands. A bullet wound to the head had blood dripping into his palms in thick, crimson drops. He explained that he had been reaching for something on the book shelf and knocked a gun over instead, the bullet grazing his head.
His escort looked at him and sighed. Anger rose in his stomach. What he heard Hauser say he took as a lie, which he had been known to do more often lately. Believing Hauser self-inflicted himself for sympathy, the family he was staying with sent him to anyone else who would take him in.
Three years later, Hauser’s reputation turned from helpless to troublesome. The people of Nuremberg saw him as a conniving, cheating young man only interested in sympathy and attention. Doubts of his tragic upbringing spread from household to household the longer he stayed in the town.
Hauser might have been somewhat educated by now, but recognizing human emotion didn’t require an education. He must have felt the people’s general contempt for him.
In December of 1833, over three years after the gun shot incident, Hauser fell victim of a violent knife wound to his torso. He came home (wherever home was at this point) holding his hands to his side. Blood spilled between his fingers in rivulets, staining his clothes that had been purchased by someone else. His skin was pasty down to his collar.
He said he was lured to the Ansbach Court Garden by a man he had never met before. The stranger told him there was a velvet bag for him there. In this garden he was stabbed and left to struggle his way home, leaving the bag in the garden.
Those who went to the garden to find the perpetrator only found the velvet bag Hauser had spoken of. Inside was a mirror-like letter:
“Hauser will be able to tell you quite precisely how I look and from where I am. To save Hauser the effort, I want to tell you myself from where I come _ _ . I come from from _ _ _ the Bavarian border _ _ On the river _ _ _ _ _ I will even tell you the name: M. L. Ö.”
The letter was meaningless to anyone who read it. Three days afterward Hauser died of the deep wound in his side. Nuremberg took a collective sigh of relief, but what remained was confusion.
The author of the note was never found, though no one really expected to find him or her. What was more likely, according to a handwriting analysis, was that Hauser wrote the letter himself. The cryptic message might have made sense only to him. What he might have meant by it was that his life was continuously in danger.
But in the end he was only a danger to himself.