The Mysterious Disappearance Of Lynette Dawson

On January 9, 1982, 33-year-old Lynette Joy Dawson seemingly vanished without a trace. However, as there were conflicting stories about her contact with her husband, Chris, she was not officially reported missing until more than one month later. Although her body was never found, All That's Interesting reports Chris Dawson eventually became the primary suspect in her disappearance and assumed murder.

Chris and Lynette met in 1965 at a high school function when they were both 16 years old. As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, the couple was married in March 1970, in Randwick, New South Wales, Australia.

All That's Interesting reports Chris was a rugby star, who played for the Eastern Suburbs Rugby Union Football Club, the Newtown Jets rugby club, and the New South Wales championship rugby club. However, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, he retired from rugby and began working as a physical education teacher at Cromer High School in 1979. At some point in 1980, Chris reportedly began having an affair with one of his students. The Sydney Morning Herald reports, Joanne Curtis, who was 16 years old, was a year 11 student when the affair began.

As she was having trouble at home, Chris purportedly persuaded Lynette to allow the teen to move into their Bayview home. According to reports, Curtis moved into the Dawson's home in October 1981. However, her presence in the home, and seemingly inappropriate relationship with Chris, caused the Dawsons serious marital issues.

Lynette Dawson vanished in January 1982

Over the next year, The Sydney Morning Herald reports Joanne Curtis spent her time moving between the Dawson's home, Chris' brother's home, and her mother's home. However, she still spent an unusual amount of time with Chris.

On January 8, 1982, Lynette and Chris reportedly went to a marriage counseling appointment together. By all accounts, the couple left the appointment in good spirits. Lynette's friend, Sue Strath, later recounted that she observed the couple "walking hand-in-hand" after the appointment, and that Lynette expressed she was feeling "very positive, very hopeful for the future."

Later that same evening, The Sydney Morning Herald reports Lynette spoke with her mother, Helena Simms, on the telephone. Although Simms said Lynette sounded somewhat inebriated, she reportedly told her mother, "everything is just going to be fine." During the call, they also made plans to meet at the Northbridge Baths beach the following day.

On January 9, Chris and his two daughters met Simms at the beach as planned. However, Lynette was apparently not with them. According to Dawson, he dropped Lynette off at a bus stop earlier that same day, as she planned to travel to Chatswood to return some clothing. 

While they were at the beach, Chris purportedly received a phone call, which he said was from Lynette. As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, Chris said he "needed time away" after receiving the call and planned to take a trip with some friends.

Chris Dawson claims Lynette left voluntarily

As reported by All That's Interesting, Chris purportedly did not express any urgency about his wife's disappearance or make any known attempts to find her. Reportedly, Joanne Curtis moved into the Dawson home permanently only two days after Lynette Dawson seemingly vanished. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, witnesses suggest Curtis immediately began sharing a bed with Chris and was seen wearing Lynette's clothing and jewelry.

Although Lynette's friends and family were becoming concerned, Chris insisted he had spoken with her over the telephone on several occasions since she went missing. He also reportedly claimed she had used her debit card at least twice between January 12 and 26. Chris did not report Lynette missing until February 18, 1982. However, as reported by All That's interesting, Chris contended that his wife willingly left him and their two daughters to join some kind of "religious group."

Throughout the investigation, Chris insisted he had nothing to do with Lynette's disappearance. He never wavered from his assertion that she left of her own volition and was likely still alive, but simply living elsewhere.

In 1983, Chris filed to divorce his missing wife. The divorce was granted later that same year. As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, Chris and Joanne Curtis were married in January of the following year. Although Curtis would supposedly wear Lynette's wedding ring, Chris had the ring reset before the ceremony. In 1984, Chris and his new wife had a baby daughter, who they named Kristen.

A pink cardigan and an investigation

As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, Chris Dawson and Joanne Curtis were married nine years before they decided to divorce. Although Lynette Dawson's body was never found, authorities continued their investigation into her disappearance, and Chris remained their primary suspect.

That's Life reports police ordered a dig at the Dawson's former Bayview home, and ultimately found a pink cardigan, which they believed belonged to Lynette. Between 2001 and 2003, two different coroners ruled that Lynette was likely murdered and that her husband, Chris, was a suspect in the crime. However, Chris was not arrested or formally charged until December 5, 2018.

As reported by ABC, crown prosecutor Craig Everson revealed Chris had threatened to harm Lynette during one of the couple's counseling appointments. Everson said Chris specifically told his wife, "if this doesn't work, I'll get rid of you." Everson also said Chris had approached "a man who had criminal connections about how to get rid of" Lynette.

Chris' attorney, Greg Welsh, argued that the prosecution's case was largely based on circumstantial evidence and was driven by "intense media scrutiny," including a podcast titled, "The Teacher's Pet." In his opinion, the media coverage and podcast were both "fundamentally prejudicial" and have essentially taken away Chris' "right to the presumption of innocence." ABC reports Welsh also criticized authorities for failing to follow up on reports that Lynette was seen by several witnesses after her January 1982 disappearance.

Chris Dawson denies involvement

ABC reports Chris Dawson remains incarcerated as he awaits trial for the death of his former wife Lynette. Chris, who is now 72 years old, pleaded not guilty and maintains he has not seen Lynette since January 9, 1992. He continues to insist he had no involvement in his wife's disappearance and contends she left him and their daughters voluntarily.

Chris' legal team filed numerous appeals and applied for a permanent stay of proceedings. However, as reported by ABC, all of their motions have been denied. Although the judges agreed the media and podcast, along with the time it took for authorities to file charges, may have caused "very serious" concerns, they believe the issues could be "remedied or sufficiently ameliorated by careful direction which the judge at the trial will give to the jury."

As reported by 9 News, Chris Dawson's trial in the alleged death of his former wife Lynette is set to begin on May 9, 2022, and is expected to last eight weeks.