Man Charged With Murder in Case Made Famous by True Crime Podcast

An Australian man has been charged with murder in relation to a case made famous by a popular true crime podcast.

Chris Dawson, 70, was extradited from the northeastern state of Queensland to Sydney Thursday to face allegations that he killed his wife Lynette, who went missing in 1982.

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Dawson, a former high-school teacher, has long-denied involvement in his wife's disappearance, claiming she abandoned her husband and two children to join a religions group, the BBC explained.

The case was made world famous by a true crime podcast produced by The Australian newspaper, called The Teacher's Pet. The series has attracted more than 27 million listeners since it came out in May.

Dawson appeared in a Sydney court via video link Thursday, where he was denied bail. His lawyer said he intends to make a formal bail application at a later date.

The Sydney Morning Herald cited court documents which allege Dawson killed his wife between 9 p.m. on January 8, 1982 and 7 a.m. on January 9, 1982. His lawyer, Greg Walsh, told reporters his client would plead not guilty. "He strenuously asserts his innocence," Walsh added.

He was arrested Wednesday as a result of a three-year re-investigation into the cold case. No trace of Lynette has ever been discovered. Two previous inquests suggested she was killed by a "known person" and that Dawson had sexual relationships with teenage students while married, the BBC explained.

However, prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to bring charges against Dawson, despite the indication he was involved in Lynette's disappearance and the absence of other suspects. After so many years with no answers, Lynette's family said they were "so overjoyed that something has actually happened."

Superintendent Scott Cook explained that new evidence had helped investigators "tie pieces of of the puzzle together." The new information includes witness statements, he added.

Local media has suggested some testimony has been provided by one of Dawson's former student lovers, named by the Herald as Joanne Curtis. The 16-year-old moved in with Dawson just days after Lynette disappeared. The couple later married but have since separated.

Walsh has warned that the popularity of the A Teacher's Pet podcast could undermine Dawson's right to a fair trial. "One of the things that concerns me, this man is entitled to the presumption of innocence and he should be afforded that fundamental right," he said Thursday, noting he had never listened to the series himself.

On Wednesday, New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the hunt for Lynette would continue, according to the Herald. "We would like to have found the body of Lynette Dawson, not just for the evidence but for the family and we certainly will not give up on the search," he told reporters.