I learned about this story one afternoon while I was babysitting. I'm someone who needs to have some sort of stimulation basically 24/7. So, on this afternoon, once the baby had fallen asleep I researched top crime podcasts. I happened upon "The Teachers Pet," a popular Australian podcast. After it's release in 2018 it had 28 million downloads and was the number one podcast in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom. After the first five minutes, I was intrigued and by the time I fell asleep the next night I had finished the entire first season. The story was scandalous, complex, and horrifying.
The story starts with Lynette Dawson usually known as Lyn, her husband Chris Dawson and their two young daughters. They all lived together in their family home near the northern beaches of Sydney, Australia. Lyn suddenly disappears in 1982 with almost no trace. Her husband says they have been having problems in their marriage and she has run away with a religious cult.
At first, no one thinks that this is that out of the blue, everyone knew the couple was unhappy and there were rumors that Chris had been having an affair with their 16-year-old baby sitter. Lyn's friends and family quickly go to police claiming that Lyn would have never left her daughters with Chris, she would have brought them with her. The police aren't able to do much but file a missing person's report a few days later. Lyn was an adult granting her the autonomy to leave her family and start a new life without being found. To make matters worse or at least more suspicious Chris has their young babysitter move in with him and his daughters, replacing his missing wife.
Lynette and her daughter.YouTube
Now this story might sound pretty cut and dry, the husband did it so he could upgrade his older wife for a young girl. However, many of his family, friends, and coworkers defended Chris describing him as a family man devoted to raising his family and helping out his students in any way he could. Chris was a gym teacher and former rugby star with a questionably close relationship with his identical twin brother Paul. Both were described by their male friends and acquaintances and normal nice guys. Their coworkers would usually describe them as attractive, fit, and young both motivated to help their students in any way. However, once Chris starts hiring Joanne Curtis as a babysitter to help his wife care for their daughters, rumors start flying around the school and among Lyn's friends that Joanne and Chris are having an affair.
Now, Chris' brother, Paul lived a few houses down with his wife and kids. Paul's wife knew that Lyn had suspicions about Joanne entering her home, but when Paul's wife finds Chris and Joanne sitting on the guest bed together she immediately tells Lyn. Joanne's parents, on the other hand, had no reason to fear anything nefarious was going on between Chris and Joanne. While Chris was not technically breaking any Australian law by having an affair with Joanne, as the age of consent is 16, the school system has policies protecting students from predatory teachers. Additionally, Joanne had been a gifted athlete from an unstable home, thus Joanne's parents saw her new job with her supportive coach and teacher as positive. Joanne became very close with Chris and Lyn's young daughters. Joanne also loved Lyn, who had been kind to her and helped her with school.
When Lyn disappeared, Joanne moved in with the family. Police and those who were not close with the family didn't find this suspicious as it made sense that Chris needed help with his two young girls. As weeks then months and years pass Lyn is never spotted or heard from her daughters fully believe that their mother has abandoned them. Meanwhile, Lyn's family and friends confront police with suspicions about Chris' behavior before and after Lyn's disappearance. As the decades continue to pass with no sign of Lyn rumors continue to fly about Chris' involvement.
Joanne and Lynette's daughters.YouTube
Hadley Thomas is the investigative reporter responsible for consolidating all the information between Chris and Lyn's coworkers, friends, and family. Episodes were released weekly by The Australian, a newspaper in Australia. The podcast quickly caught on as more friends and family are interviewed for the very first time. In December 2018 Chris was arrested seven months after "The Teacher's Pet" debuted. He is currently out on bail awaiting his trial in 2020. The horrifying part is Lyn had never been found. Police have been digging and searching in possible locations but have yet to find anything but one of Lyn's sweater buried in their backyard.
This story gives other families and victims of abuse hope that even a case as cold as Lyn's may one day reach a resolution and they may one day receive the security of justice. Thus I think it is important to remember that these stories are not entertainment they are real people who have had abusers or predators disrupt and destroy their lives. So I feel responsible whenever possible to aid in any way with the research of cases or support of family. I will leave the link to The Australian website where you can find all the episodes and link to more details and updates on the case and trial.