The 1960s is often thought to be a period when Australians enjoyed a simple and carefree way of life. But, with a wave of heinous crimes that captured public attention, the 1960s has became known as the decade when Australia 'lost its innocence'.
With television networks expanding at a rapid rate around the country, and national news becoming more accessible and delivered much faster, sadly 'the Beaumont kids', 'Wanda Beach murders', 'Graeme Thorne' and Perth's 'Night Caller' became familiar phrases and household names in Australia.
Two tragic crimes, one year apart
On 11 January 1965, two 15-year-old girls, Marianne Schmidt and Christine Sharrock, were sexually assaulted then murdered at Wanda Beach, near Cronulla in Sydney. They were discovered the next day, their bodies partially buried in the sand dunes. One year later, on 26 January 1966, the three Beaumont siblings – Jane (9), Arnna (7) and Grant (4) – disappeared from Glenelg Beach in Adelaide. Both cases captured the attention of the nation, which became consumed by the search for their assailants. Both cases remain unsolved to this day.
Initially, police encouraged interest in both cases, using media appearances to call for information from the public. Detective Inspector Haynes, who led the initial investigation into the Wanda Beach murders, issued such an appeal in this interview with Ian Ross on National Network News in January 1965: