Investigative journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna in a scene from the documentary series Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane.
Investigative journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna in a scene from the documentary series Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane.

Mysterious murder case is still baffling 22 years later

CARO Meldrum-Hanna's stories have exposed corruption, injustice and abuse of power.

Now the Walkley Award-winning investigative journalist turns her laser focus to one of Australia's most baffling cases: The conviction of Keli Lane for the murder of her newborn baby, Tegan.

Lane has always protested her innocence and claims Tegan is still alive. The baby's body was never found.

"It's not every day that a letter from a convicted baby killer lands on your desk and from a woman who I had never reported on her case," Meldrum-Hanna tells The Guide.

"She's a very complex character. She's been called an enigma and descriptions of her range from a pathological liar to evil to cold or callous. Very little is flattering or positive. I had to step out of that and think what is unresolved on this? Does it deserve to be held up to the light?

"I always thought it was peculiar that no body was found and that there were so many resources applied to this over so many years."

The three-part documentary series Exposed follows Meldrum-Hanna and her team's seven-month investigation, starting with her first of many six-minute phone conversations with Lane from prison.

Investigative journalists Elise Worthington and Caro Meldrum-Hanna in a scene from Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane.
Investigative journalists Elise Worthington and Caro Meldrum-Hanna in a scene from Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane. ABC-TV

"It's the hardest thing I've ever done," she says.

"You're trying to engage and speak with someone, to press them and get further, but she's calling me.

"She wants to keep talking but how do you gauge if someone is being truthful to you when you can't see them and can't see their body language?

"That's why I love television, because I can watch people when they're asked hard questions. I was totally deprived of all of that.

"There are moments where the frustration just increases because you're on a six-minute deadline. How do you get further with someone when Keli can very well control the agenda? She knows how much more time she needs to fill before it cuts out, but she kept on calling and calling."

Unlike some true crime series and podcasts, Meldrum-Hanna doesn't set out to prove Lane's guilt or innocence.

She simply goes where the information leads her as she strives to understand the strange series of events which led to Lane's conviction.

"There were so many investigators before us, homicide detectives and child protection workers. The finest legal minds were all confounded by the case of Keli Lane," she says.

Keli Lane (centre) with her parents during her murder trial which resulted in an 18 year sentence for killing her newborn daughter.
Keli Lane (centre) with her parents during her murder trial which resulted in an 18 year sentence for killing her newborn daughter.

"It had a really big ripple effect for the people who worked on it. They lament they could never find Tegan or break Keli down.

"I was thinking 'What hope do I have? I don't have the resources of the police'. But if you have the time you can get further than others have before you."

The investigation produces several revelations about the 22-year-old case.

"We've chased down new leads, found new witnesses and new information," she says

"Whether there will be ramifications and consequences, I can't be the judge. Considering what we've discovered, I'd be surprised if that came to naught."

Exposed is designed to be a series and Meldrum-Hanna says she already has leads for future episodes.

"I have several up my sleeve to get going on for Exposed, which is really exciting. But we've got to sail this ship first," she says.

"Exposed is led by its characters and the journalist on the journey to discover the truth, which is really exciting... the sky is the limit for me."

Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane premieres on the ABC on Tuesday at 8.30pm.



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