Crime Podcast Leads To Conviction In 40-Year-Old Cold Case

Chris Dawson had long denied any allegations of wrongdoing, claiming his wife had walked out on him and their two young children when they were just two and four years old. But new evidence emerged in 2018 with the release of the “Teacher’s Pet” podcast by Australian investigative journalist Hedley Thomas.

The judge dismissed Dawson’s claims that his wife had abandoned the family, and that he had spoken to her in the weeks after her disappearance. He also found that sightings of Lynette Dawson in later years were mistaken or false.

The Crown submitted evidence that Dawson hadn’t used her passport or accessed any Australian public system since 1982, and that no one had come forward with information regarding her disappearance.

The judge recapped the relationship between Dawson and JC, his former student who later became his wife. He said the evidence from JC was “truthful and reliable” and that she had turned to Chris Dawson for support and guidance.

JC’s family life was difficult; she lived at home with a “violent, aggressive and controlling” stepfather in a cramped apartment where there was excessive drinking. She had turned to her teacher for support and guidance, Harrison said.

In 1980, JC started babysitting for the Dawson family the student and teacher ended up having sex in his car. This happened multiple times before the disappearance of Chris Dawson’s then Lynette Dawson.  In 1981, JC moved into the Dawson family’s house because the violence at her home had become intolerable. This led to more cheating and the eventual desire of Chris Dawson to be free of his marriage. The evidence suggests he killed her and didn’t waste any time installing JC in her place.

Harrison delivered his verdict over several hours on Tuesday, saying the evidence presented by the Crown was “persuasive and compelling”. He said he wasn’t convinced Dawson was violent toward Lynette Dawson, but that the marriage was in trouble and that Dawson decided to end the marriage.

For more on this story, please consider these sources:

  1. Chris Dawson, subject of crime podcast, found guilty of murdering wife Lynette – The Washington Post
  2. Inside the courtroom as Chris Dawson’s verdict was handed down – ABC News
  3. Chris Dawson: Husband in podcast-famous case guilty of murder – BBC News
  4. Chris Dawson, Subject of ‘Teacher’s Pet’ Podcast, Is Found Guilty of Wife’s Murder – The New York Times