The "Identikit"

'Identikit' of Suspect.   
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This is a loose transcript of part of the ABC Radio National program "101 Degrees -- The Beaumont Children". It is not an exact transcript, as human speech tends, when written down, to have little resemblance to written English. However the transcript, while edited, is faithful to the intended meaning of what was said in the relevant part of the program. It casts serious doubt on the worth of the famous "identikit" picture of the Beaumont suspect.

Peter von Czar, and I was the chief artist of the Advertiser newspapers for 32 years, and I happened to be the artist who was on duty the night that the Beaumonts disappeared -- the serious side of it, when they realised that they weren't going to turn up. And I had been taken to the police station at Glenelg because there were several people who claimed that they had seen the so called abductor. Unfortunately at the time I had been drinking heavily in my tea break, and I didn't quite understand at the time until I'd sobered -- and it made me sober very quickly I can tell you when I got down there -- to discover that the police were relying on that, plus the paper had opened the front page, for the story. Nothing more sobering than that.

We had two people come forward and try to describe, but unfortunately the police never had any real equipment in terms of an identikit that they could use, so they were using artists -- on one of the very few occasions they ever did this -- they used artists, and it was very difficult for me, because the woman really couldn't describe it, and as soon as you started using association, she started to lose it.

All they could tell me was a very thin-faced person, but that was all, so I just drew a very thin-faced person, thinking this was not going to amount to anything, not being aware that they still kept that front page of the paper open. So I never really completed the drawing, because it wasn't complete enough.

The detectives were then trying to tell me -- which is the worst thing you can possibly do -- because they were trying to get from the woman -- there was one woman in particular -- and she'd said that this fellow was strikingly thin in the face, very gaunt. So that's what I started with, this gaunt face, and then I said: "Do you know what his hair, what colour his hair was? Was it receding?" "Oh, I'm not sure." "Does he look like this? Does he look like this?" We kept sort of drawing and the detective... And more and more people came in, and the television arrived, and it got out of hand. The actual purpose of the woman being there sort of somehow got lost in the circus, and I felt at the time, that because it was such a serious case, it may have been handled better if they'd taken us all away to a place.

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