Podcast Justice: Suspected Wife Killer Chris Dawson Arrested After 36 Years Thanks To Cold Case Sleuths

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Lynette and Chris Dawson on their wedding day. Chris Dawson will be charged with Lynette's death after 36 years with no answers in her 1982 disappearance.

The true crime podcast boom continues to make the world a better place, with the news that Chris Dawson, 70, the husband of Lynette Dawson, a Sydney woman who went missing in 1982, is to be charged with her murder after over three decades of suspicion, but no solid answers.

In a country whose major cultural exports are Kylie Minogue and notorious unsolved murders, the disappearance of Lynette Dawson still ranks as one of the most enigmatic crimes in Australia history.

The 34-year-old mother-of-two was reported missing by husband Chris in February 1982, but was last seen on January 9 of that year on the northern beaches of Sydney.

Arrested Husband Chris Dawson Claims Wife ‘Ran Away With Religious Cult’

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The last known trace of missing mother; Lynette Dawson’s pink cardigan, found by police.

Chris Dawson initially told police that his wife had abandoned the family for an itinerant  religious group, but two coroner’s inquests into Lynette’s vanishing revealed that Chris had been abusive towards his wife and ruled that she had been murdered by “a known person” – suspected to be her husband.

While the full details of Lynette Dawson’s last days are not known, police found her pale-pink cardigan near a hole dug for a swimming pool in the couple’s back garden.

The couple had attended marriage counseling the day before Lynette was last seen, as PE teacher Chris had only recently returned to the family home, having left the family with the intention of starting a new life in Queensland with one of his 16-year-old students, shortly before Christmas 1981. He had only returned after his young girlfriend, Joanne Curtis, called off the couple’s relationship while they were traveling together.

Suspected Wife Killer Chris Dawson’s Schoolgirl Lover

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To outsiders the Dawson family seemed perfect, but behind closed doors Chris Dawson was abusive and controlling.

Chris had started a relationship with the schoolgirl some time in 1981, and by December had moved Joanne into the family home. Lynette had reportedly tolerated her husband’s behavior for the sake of their children, and told friends that she “trusted” Chris.

Days after Lynette’s disappearance Joanne Curtis moved back into the Dawson family home and subsequently married her former teacher. Chris Dawson had Lynette’s wedding ring and engagement ring melted down and made into a wedding ring for Joanne.

But the relationship soon turned abusive, with Dawson going to extreme lengths to control and isolate his vulnerable young wife. By 1990 their marriage had ended and Joanne Curtis subsequently gave evidence at a coroner’s inquest into Lynette’s death, detailing the abusive behavior she had personally experienced at the hands of Chris Dawson.

Podcasts Heat Up Cold Cases

The details of the case, as well as possible failings of the initial police investigation into Lynette’s disappearance, were covered at length in last year’s massively popular podcast ‘Teacher’s Pet‘.

With the news of Chris Dawson’s arrest, many will credit the journalists involved for renewing attention in the mystery of Lynette Dawson’s disappearance, and the sad and sordid circumstances surrounding it.

As they gain in popularity, podcasts have become increasingly influential in recent years.

Evidence collected by investigative reporter Madeline Barrett and her team at the In The Dark podcast, formed part of a successful petition presented to the USA Supreme Court last November by lawyers working on behalf Curtis Flowers, a Mississippi man put on trial six times for the same crime. The Supreme Court will now rule whether to uphold or overturn his most recent conviction.

Adnan Syad, the subject of the wildly-successful first season of hit podcast Serial, has been granted a new trial on all charges relating to the murder and kidnap in 2000 of former girlfriend Hae Min Lee.


  1. “No longer just for lonely people pretending that the warmth of a human voice coming through their earbuds is pretty much the same as a having actual friends”

    lol. Author got a chip on their shoulder? What is that actually supposed to mean? Podcasts have been around for years, and listened to (gasp) even by people with friends.


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