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Man From 'Teacher's Pet' Podcast, Who Let His Student Move In After Wife Disappeared, Charged With Murder

Police arrested Chris Dawson, 70, more than 35 years after his wife, Lyn, mysteriously disappeared, leaving behind two small children. 

By Jill Sederstrom

An Australian teacher whose female student moved in with him just two days after his wife disappeared is now being charged with his wife's murder more than 35 years after she seemingly vanished.

The arrest comes after the case gained new attention in the popular podcast "Teacher's Pet" and new witnesses were uncovered that helped "tie pieces of the puzzle together," NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller said, according to The Guardian.

Chris Dawson, 70, was formally charged Thursday with murder in the death of his wife, Lynette Dawson, who vanished in January 1982 leaving behind two young daughters. Her body has never been found.

His 16-year-old former student and lover Joanne Curtis moved into the house two days later and would later marry Dawson, using one of his former wife's wedding rings, News.com.au reports.

Although Dawson has long been a suspect in the case, police have lacked definitive evidence to charge him in the crime.

Dawson has always contended that his wife chose to leave the family to join a cult.

"After the disappearance of Lynette Dawson, there was evidence that she was observed by a number of people," Dawson's lawyer, Greg Walsh, said Thursday, according to the Guardian.

He said his client, who is "anxious and stressed" about the charges, plans to plead not guilty.

Two separate inquests into the disappearance in the past have concluded that Lynette had been killed by a "known person," but there was never enough evidence to file any charges.

NSW homicide detectives began taking a new look at the case in 2015.

The case garnered even more attention after it was chronicled in the podcast Teacher's Pet. The podcast has attracted more than 27 million listeners across the world since it was released in May.

Fuller said investigators were finally able to piece together the crime after new witnesses were identified "by the media" that had not been interviewed by police before.

“There was additional evidence that was identified and … that has seen the (Director of Public Prosecutions) make a positive decision in prosecuting an individual for the murder of Lynette Dawson,” Fuller said, according to new.com.au.

One of the new witnesses is reportedly one of the Dawson's former babysitters, Bev McNally.

In the 1970s, Chris Dawson had played rugby before becoming a high school teacher. He'd cross paths with Curtis, who he asked to babysit for his two young children.

A 2003 inquest would later determine that the Curtis and Dawson were having an affair when Lyn disappeared.

Curtis would move into the family's home just two days after the disappearance and began wearing the woman's clothes and sleeping in the couple's bed, Daily Mail reports.

Curtis would tell police in 1998 that the situation was "very strange for everyone."

After getting married several years later, Curtis would go on to have a daughter of her own with Dawson.

It's not clear whether Lyn was aware of the affair or not, but neighbors at the time had reportedly seen Curtis swimming topless in the family's pool, the Daily Mail reports.

Curtis and Dawson reportedly split up in 1990.

Their adult daughter, Kristen Dawson, told the Daily Mail this week it is "a really hard time for us at the moment."

While Lyn's Dawson's family is reportedly relieved by the charges against her husband, Dawson's brother, Peter Dawson, said he believes his brother will be found innocent of the crime.

"We are disappointed at the decision of the DPP as there is clear and uncontested evidence that Lyn Dawson was alive long after she left Chris and his daughters,” he said, according to The Guardian.

[Photo: NSW Police Force]