The Teacher's Pet podcast has been the talk of the nation since it debuted in May 2018. The podcast that captivated Australia (and the rest of the world) not only turned a legion of listeners into true crime buffs, but also seems to have had significant influence over the momentum of the case it focuses on. The disappearance of Lynette Dawson almost 37 years ago remains unsolved, but on December 5 2018, police made a major breakthrough when they arrested her husband, former Newtown Jets rugby league player and high school teacher Chris Dawson. Dawson is expected to be formally charged with Lyn's murder. Now that this pivotal event has taken place, it's time to refresh on all the major players in both the case and the podcast. It's also important to note, the podcast is now on hold pending further updates from court proceedings.
Lynette Simms (known as Lyn) was born in the late 1940s' and from all accounts on the podcast, grew up in a loving family. She met Chris Dawson when they were both 16 years old in 1965, and they were married five years later. After struggling to conceive, their first daughter Shanelle was born in 1977, and was followed by Sherryn in 1979. It was in 1981 that Lyn learned Chris had been having an affair with a student from Cromer High School (the school where he was a teacher), Joanne Curtis, who was also their children's babysitter. Lyn worked as a nurse at the time, and has not been seen since January 1982.
Chris Dawson begun his career as a professional rugby league player for the Newtown Jets in the 1970s', before becoming a high school teacher. His identical twin brother, Paul, also followed the same career trajectory. It was while teaching at Cromer High School in Sydney that he begun a sexual relationship with Joanne, a year 11 student at the time. After Lyn's disappearance, Joanne moved in with Chris and his daughters, and they eventually married before relocating to the Gold Coast, Queensland in 1985. In the same year they had a daughter of their own, Kristen. By 1990 the pair had separated, and Chris has since remarried. He still lives on the Gold Coast.
According to Joanne, she grew up in a troubled environment. In 1981 she moved in with the Dawson family, with Lyn being told it was due to her difficult living situation. She had allegedly begun a sexual relationship with Chris the previous year, when she was 16 years old. In 1990 once she and Chris had separated, she moved with Kristen back to Sydney's northern beaches.
Shanelle was four years old when Lyn disappeared. She revealed on The Teacher's Pet podcast that she has limited memories of her mother. She now has a daughter of her own, currently the same age as she was when she last saw Lyn. On the podcast, she described how Chris contacted her a few years ago to let her know he had seen a woman in the crowd on an episode of Britain's Antiques Road Show that he thought was Lyn.
Sherryn was two when Lyn disappeared. She did not take part in the podcast and little is known about her life now.
By all accounts on the podcast, Paul was and still is exceptionally close to his identical twin brother Chris. Not only did they follow the same career path, they also lived on the same street, Gilwinga Drive in Bayview, NSW. When Chris moved to the Gold Coast, Paul and his wife, Marilyn, also followed suit. He went on to become a deputy principal of a school on the Gold Coast.
Marilyn married Paul in the 1970s'. In her 1999 police interview that was featured on the podcast, she made clear her support for Chris and her belief in his innocence regarding the disappearance. It was also revealed that before Lyn vanished, she had allowed Chris and Joanne to take shelter in her home around Christmas 1981, without informing Lyn of the nature of their relationship.
Helena was Lyn's mother, who passed away without knowing what happened to her daughter. Her diary entries were featured prominently in the podcast, revealing she greatly admired Chris, and viewed him like a son. Two of her other children, Pat Jenkins and Greg Simms, have been open in their belief of Chris' guilt. Greg's wife, Merilyn, and daughter, Renee, have also been vocal about their longing for the truth.
Detective Sergeant Damien Loone
Damien took over the investigation into Lyn's disappearance in 1998, and excerpts from his police interviews are heard throughout the podcast. It was his investigation that led to Chris and Lyn's former property in Bayview being searched, which saw a woman's cardigan uncovered in their backyard. It is believed that it once belonged to Lyn.
Hedley is the host of the podcast and an investigative journalist at The Australian. He recently won a Gold Walkley award for his work on the podcast, along with producer Slade Gibson. Throughout the podcast he was open in his belief that Chris most likely murdered Lyn, which he has said is based on the two coronial inquests that drew the same conclusion.