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Deep Dives

Chhavi Sachdev
Podcaster and Independent Radio Producer/Reporter
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piqer: Chhavi Sachdev
Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Australia's "The Teacher's Pet" investigates a missing persons case gone cold

I heard about this podcast series on a "best of 2018" list and I was hooked at episode 1. The best thing is that the publicity from the podcast actually resulted in an arrest just last month! The Teacher's Pet revolves around the "disappearance" of Sydney housewife and mother Lynn Dawson one hot January day in 1982. But all clues, testimonies and circumstances indicate it was cold blooded murder. As the facts unfold, it starts to sound like something author Liane Moriarty would have dreamed up. But instead, it's a real account of infidelity, underage school sex rings, weirdly close twin brothers, and a police cover up.  

Journalist Hedley Thomas started doing this podcast in early 2018 (though he's been covering this story since at least 2001) and recorded it like Serial – the interviews were already done, but in every episode, he's incorporated something new that's come in as a tip after the previous episode so it's more or less also unfolding in real time. Hearing key witnesses from the 1980s speak now – some have lived with guilt over not making more of a fuss about Lynn's disappearance, some live with trauma from their own abuse – is enlightening about how many things have changed. Forensics has evolved, detective procedure has improved, and cultural mores have also, thankfully, shifted. It's evident that with social media, growing economies, and burgeoning feminism, a whole generation has learned to speak up louder and be noticed, and not just wait for the people in charge to do something. 

But, back then was a different story and we get to hear just how different it was – and how it led to two little girls being abandoned by their mother, how a 16-year-old was groomed to take over, and how so many people basically let them down while the probable murderer got away with it... until now.  

Australia's "The Teacher's Pet" investigates a missing persons case gone cold
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