A good cold case revisited via podcast is all the rage right now; one where a journalist has dug up new suspects to an unsolved murder mystery. On the international stage, Serial set off the true crime podcast trend in 2014. Others like S-Town, Dirty John and Atlanta Monster soon followed. Closer to home, the ABC’s Trace was a huge success, albeit we’re still waiting for that live case to be solved. Phoebe’s Fall was another excellent release. But by far the most compelling of our home-grown true crime podcasts – one that could stand against the success of the aforementioned international titles – is The Teacher’s Pet.
As told by The Australian’s Hedley Thomas, the podcast follows the 1982 disappearance of 33-year-old wife and mother Lyn Dawson. Married to a pin-up footballer and high school P.E. teacher, Chris, the Dawsons appeared – outwardly, anyway – to have a perfect life in a beautiful home in Bayview on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
But when it becomes apparent Chris is having an affair with one of his Year 11 high school students, Joanne Curtis – and subsequently moves the 16-year-old into the family home as the “babysitter” to his young daughters – cracks in the marriage begin to show.
When Lyn disappears, friends and family begin to suspect Chris has murdered her so he can be with Joanne. (Just days after Lyn’s disappearance, Joanne and Chris are spotted by a neighbour in a “compromising” position). While Chris has denied any involvement in Lyn’s disappearance to detectives for 36 years (he says she just got up and left one day), Thomas’s investigation, in which has unsurfaced missed clues by NSW police, could hold the key to sending Chris away to prison for the murder of his wife.
How could Lyn stay in the shadows for nearly four decades? With no independent savings, how could she survive without taking any of her nursing badges to find work elsewhere? Why is there no trace of her credit card or her passport leaving the country? Why would a devoted mother – who had trouble conceiving for six years – leave her beloved young daughters without a trace and inflict such pain on them for the rest of their lives?
At the end of all this, Thomas, like many key witnesses who are speaking for the first time, says a murder charge is likely.
We’re currently four episodes in. And next to the murder mystery, the other intriguing aspect is Chris’ incredibly bizarre relationship with his twin brother.