Serial opened up this world of podcasts as long-form investigations, and I’m here for it. A lot of people had the same reaction to S-Town (I made it through 1 episode…oops). And I’ve found my (and hopefully your) next podcast obsession: The Teacher’s Pet
*no, it probably didn’t, but it did for me
What You Need To Know About The Teacher’s Pet
This story will enrage you. It enraged me so much I’m writing about it. I’m selfish, really, because the main purpose of writing about it is that I really need someone to talk to about this podcast. I want us to be enraged together. It will be great, I promise!
The Teacher’s Pet focuses on the disappearance and probable murder of Lyn Dawson, a devoted wife, a caring mom, and a part-time nurse. But of course, the story is not so simple.
A star footballer. His school girl lover.
A wife who vanishes.
Chris and Lyn appear to have the perfect marriage. But when Lyn goes missing, dark secrets are buried. This is no fairytale, but a sordid story of strangely close twin brothers, teenage student lovers, and probable murder.
– The Australian
If that doesn’t draw you in, I don’t know what will.
Like Serial and other podcasts of that ilk, The Teacher’s Pet is comprised of interviews with people who knew Lyn and Chris. Some of these are police interviews from years past, and others are current interviews with the host Hedley Thomas, he of the dulcet tones. Of course, there are no interviews from Lyn and none from Chris either because he’s a slimy bastard, but we’re able to get a pretty complete story from court records, police interviews, and character witnesses.
And then there are interviews with Joanne Curtis, Chris’s lover at the time. In 1980, when this story begins, she’s 16, Chris is 30. Oh, and did I mention he was her high school gym teacher? Settle in guys, this story is just getting started.
Before Lyn’s disappearance in 1982, Chris had moved Joanne into their family home, with their two children, ages 2 and 4, ostensibly as their babysitter. Joanne came from a pretty terrible home life – her mother was an alcoholic, and her stepfather was abusive. I get why she wanted to leave, and how it must’ve been so easy to feel grateful toward Chris for caring for her and keeping her safe. What I don’t understand is how you can sleep with a man in the same house where he lives where his wife (in their bed!!) and where his children, who you babysit, live. Lord, I wish these women had banded together against this man.
Why You’ll Get Mad
If what you’ve heard of this story so far hasn’t made you mad enough, here are a few more reasons this podcast will f*&# you up.
No one said anything*. Lyn and Chris Dawson had a lot of friends. She had work friends, neighbors, a large family; he was a former footballer with teammates, colleagues, family friends. And no one said a thing when Lyn disappeared. Everyone took it at face value that this hardworking mom of 2 very young children, who by all counts she adored, would up and vanish with nothing more than the clothes on her back.
People continued to stay silent when young Joanne Curtis moved into the Dawson home for good two days after Lyn disappeared. Or when Chris and Joanne got married a year after, with Joanne wearing Lyn’s wedding ring.
It’s not much of an excuse, but I think this shows the difference between now and decades passed. If your friend went missing in the year of our Lord 2018, you would sound the alarm just about instantly. We have so many avenues of communication that when they all go silent, it becomes glaringly obvious. No tweets, no Facebook posts, no Snapchats filters – something’s wrong.
I wasn’t alive in the 80s, but I can imagine things were different. People weren’t posting online about their relationship problems or constantly tagging their locations, so privacy was more expected. Rather than sharing your marriage with all of your online friends, it was kept between the people listed on the marriage license. And that’s definitely a good thing, but it meant that Lyn and Chris’s marital problems weren’t common knowledge. Everyone in their social circles thought it wasn’t their place to get involved. And I feel like that’s not the case in today’s culture. You may hate that your friends are all up in your business, but you can bet your butt they won’t stand by silently when you randomly go missing. We’ll find your ass.
*except you, Sue. You’re a hero.
Teacher/Student relationships were disgustingly common. Chris Dawson was not the only one taking advantage of girls half his age. His twin brother and many other teachers in the area were in on this scheme. According to others working in the school system with them at the time, they saw it as a fringe benefit. Chris was observed alone with Joanne in his office multiple times, even after been told by the headmaster that he should never have his door closed when he was with a student.
Listening to the accounts shared on this podcasts, it seems like everyone at the school knew this was going on, but it was never addressed and punishment never meted out. Chris was eventually given “disciplinary action” and asked to leave his position at Cromer High, where he taught and met Joanne…he went right on to a position at a new school. Not exactly what I would call disciplinary action…
More and more students have come forward as this podcast has been released to share what they know. It’s just unfortunate that more wasn’t done at the time.
Chris Dawson is doing fine. That’s right, Chris Dawson is not in a jail cell, he’s not a convicted criminal, he’s married to his third wife, living free in Australia. Despite the fact that two coroners ruled that he was responsible for Lyn’s murder, he was never formally charged because the Director of Public Prosecutions (I don’t understand the Australian judicial system, but that name sounds important..) ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to support a murder trial. Now that’s some bull$*&@.
It’s obvious that Chris is a master manipulator. He was able to take on the role of protector for Joanne while treating Lyn like absolute crap in their marriage. Many have stated that he was charming, but he clearly has a narcissistic side that made him capable of abusing his wife and making her disappear. He wanted to keep his home, his children, and his young lover, so he found a solution. As the podcast progresses, listeners find out that Chris may have had the police on his side. He was a popular sports figure and regularly played rugby with police members. He even claimed to be advised by a police sergeant when writing his testimony.
Smells pretty fishy, right?
This podcast has dredged up so many new testimonies and bits of evidence that it makes it hard to ignore this case. Which I for one am happy about. #justiceforlyn