An arrest has been made in a cold case after a popular true crime podcast brought it back to light — here’s what to know before listening to ‘The Teacher’s Pet’

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“The Teacher’s Pet” podcast.
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The Australian

There’s a reason why the Australian podcast “The Teacher’s Pet” has been a hit around the world.

Thoroughly investigated by seasoned journalist Hedley Thomas, the story is compelling: In 1982, Lyn Dawson disappeared, leaving behind her husband and two young daughters. Years later, her body has still never been recovered and the investigation is ongoing. Two coroners’ inquests have ruled that Lyn was murdered by her husband, Chris Dawson.

And now, Dawson has been reportedly arrested in Queensland on December 5, at the request of New South Wales Police. He has been denied bail, and many expect the now-70-year-old will soon be charged with his wife Lynette’s murder.

If you’re new to the case or interested in listening to the podcast, here’s what you should know.


“The Teacher’s Pet” is an investigative podcast into the disappearance and probable murder of Lynette Dawson in the Bayview area of Sydney, New South Wales, in 1982.

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Lyn Dawson on ABC’s program “Chequerboard.”
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ABC

Respected newspaper The Australian is behind “The Teacher’s Pet” podcast, which is hosted and investigated by award-winning journalist Hedley Thomas.

There are currently 15 episodes, and the podcast continues to be updated as developments arise. As of September 2018, the podcast has been downloaded over 17 million times by listeners around the world.

Geographically speaking, you’ll hear several terms used to describe the area where all this takes place: Sydney, Bayview, the insular peninsula, and the northern beaches. This map might help if you’ve never been there. Zoom out a little to see that the northern beaches and Bayview are all part of the larger Sydney area.


The case involves a star rugby player turned high school physical education teacher, his missing — and likely murdered — wife, his high school student lover, and the two very young daughters left behind when their mother disappeared.

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Chris Dawson on ABC’s program “Chequerboard.”
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ABC

Chris Dawson was, by all accounts, admired from near and far by both women and men for his athletic skills, charisma, and good looks. His identical twin brother Paul figures heavily in this story as well.

If you want to put faces to names, The Australian has assembled a handy dossier of all the major characters involved in this true crime case.


Since the podcast launched earlier in 2018, several people have come forward to Thomas and his investigative team with new leads.

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Lyn Dawson with one of her daughters.
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Photo supplied to The Australian

Throughout the course of this podcast, one of the most fascinating parts is that listeners from the northern beaches continue to contact Hedley Thomas and share their stories.

In an interview with the Walkley Magazine, Thomas talked about why he thinks so many witnesses with new information are now coming forward.

“It’s this strange thing  -  people feel prepared to reach out to me as a result of hearing things, as opposed to reading them,” he said. “They’re hearing, I hope, the authenticity in my voice, and in the voices of the people I’m interviewing. They’re realizing this is something we are committed to. It’s not a witch hunt: it’s an effort to deliver some justice to the family that has been denied it for a very long time.”


Two separate coroners have declared that Lyn Dawson was murdered, despite no body ever having been found. Both coroners found that Lyn’s probable murderer was her husband, Chris Dawson.

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Chris Dawson is the only suspect in the case.
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Photo supplied to The Australian

This trailer for the probing podcast series gives a great overview of the bare facts of the case.


Joanne Curtis was 16 years old when she said she began an affair with Chris Dawson before his wife’s disappearance.

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A photograph of Chris Dawson with Joanne Curtis holding their daughter. One of Lyn’s daughters is beside them.
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Photo supplied to The Australian

Chris Dawson reportedly developed a relationship with at least one of the high school students he taught – 16-year-old Joanne Curtis. This relationship began prior to Lyn’s disappearance, according to Joanne.

Joanne had a troubled home life at the time, so Chris suggested that it would be better for everyone if she were to move into the Dawson house to act as a live-in babysitter for their two young children.

Eventually, Joanne would go on to have a daughter of her own with Chris and to become his second wife – although she later divorced him and said in police interviews that she fled “in fear of her life.”


Allegations of numerous teachers preying sexually on students in schools in the area have come to light as a direct result of this podcast.

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Chris and his twin brother, Paul.
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ABC

Authorities are currently investigating claims that teachers at Cromer High – where Chris Dawson taught and Joanne attended classes – as well as Forest High and the since-closed Beacon Hill High were all hunting grounds in the ’80s for predatory teachers to pick up Year 11 and Year 12 students, according to 9 News.

Chris’ twin brother Paul Dawson also allegedly engaged in this predatory sexual behavior along with Chris. Like Chris, Paul was also a former rugby player and physical education teacher – not at the same high school, although he did teach and live nearby. This information is discussed in great detail in The Teacher’s Pet podcast, as well as in this episode of Australian Story.

You can read more about it at The Australian.


The statute of limitations for civil suits by victims of child sexual abuse was abolished in New South Wales in 2016.

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A class portrait of Joanne Curtis.
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Photo supplied to The Australian

If these allegations are proven, civil suits against the New South Wales Department of Education may be a very real possibility, according to 9 News.

A spokesperson for the New South Wales Police Force told the Australian in July 2018, “As with any report of sexual violence, police are treating these matters seriously and any report made to detectives will be thoroughly investigated. This is a timely reminder to victims – it’s never too late to make a report to police. We will investigate it whether it happened yesterday, last year, or 40 years ago.”


In September 2018, police began the most comprehensive dig yet at the former Dawson residence to search for Lyn’s body.

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Journalist and “The Teacher’s Pet” podcast host Hedley Thomas on 60 Minutes Australia.
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Channel 9

Although two separate coroners determined at different times that Lyn was murdered, and although Chris Dawson has been the only suspect all along, Chris Dawson was never charged with any crime. He insists his wife left him and disappeared.

The New South Wales Police Homicide Squad began a several-day-long dig at the former Dawson residence, hoping to answer the question once and for all of whether Lyn’s body was buried on the property.

At the time of this post, Lyn Dawson’s body has never been recovered.


In December 2018, Chris Dawson was arrested.

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Chris Dawson teaching kids rugby in Sydney. He used to play professional rugby league in Australia.
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YouTube/ABC

Chris Dawson was reportedly arrested in Queensland on December 4, 2018, at the request of New South Wales Police. He has been denied bail.

Many expect the now-70-year-old to be questioned and charged with his wife Lynette’s murder.

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