The disappearance of Lyn Dawson has remained an unsolved mystery for 36 years.
The disappearance of Lyn Dawson has remained an unsolved mystery for 36 years.

The Dawsons’ complex family tree

The disappearance of Lyn Dawson has remained an unsolved mystery for 36 years.

In recent months the cold case has captivated the world after The Australian's investigative podcast series The Teacher's Pet, for which reporter Hedley Thomas and producer Slade Gibson won a Gold Walkley, Australian journalism's highest honour.

Here is a look at all the key players involved in the Dawsons' extended family tree.

LYN DAWSON

Lyn Dawson was a registered nurse and devoted mother-of-two. On the surface, she had it all - a wholesome relationship, respectable jobs and a home in an idyllic suburb on Sydney's northern beaches.

Lyn was known as a kind and gentle soul. On January 9, 1982, she was due to meet her mother at Northbridge Baths, where her husband Chris worked.

But she never arrived. Chris later claimed he dropped her off at a bus stop in Mona Vale and that she called him later in the day saying she needed time to herself. She was never seen again.

Mother-of-two Lyn Dawson disappeared on January 9, 1982.
Mother-of-two Lyn Dawson disappeared on January 9, 1982.

CHRIS DAWSON

Lyn's husband. The former Newtown Jets rugby player worked as a sports teacher at Sydney's Cromer High School in 1980, where he began a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student.

Almost immediately after Lyn's abrupt disappearance, he moved his young lover into the property.

Chris Dawson has landed in Sydney today to face court following his arrest in Queensland yesterday charged with murder.

 

Shortly after her disappearance in 1982, Chris Dawson claimed his wife Lyn had run off to join a cult. She was never seen again.
Shortly after her disappearance in 1982, Chris Dawson claimed his wife Lyn had run off to join a cult. She was never seen again.

 

READ: Chris Dawson lawyer: Wives do go missing 

READ: Inside the plane flight with Chris Dawson 

READ: The 'creepy' thing Dawson told this student 

 

JOANNE CURTIS

Chris' young lover. The pair met at Cromer High School, where Chris worked as a sports teacher, and singled the teenager out for special attention.

She was initially employed by the Dawsons as a babysitter for their two daughters. Chris later tried to convince his wife to let the girl move into their home for the remainder of her schooling, saying she came from a broken home and had a violent stepfather. The couple ended up in marriage counselling.

Just two days after Lyn vanished, Joanne had moved into Chris' home - and marital bed. She would even wear Lyn's jewellery and her clothes.

A few years later, they got married, moved to Queensland and had a child together.

In 1990, the pair split up.

She now lives on Sydney's northern beaches and has no contact with Chris.

 

Joanne Curtis (middle) was employed as a babysitter for Chris and Lyn’s two daughters.
Joanne Curtis (middle) was employed as a babysitter for Chris and Lyn’s two daughters.

 

SHANELLE DAWSON

Chris and Lyn's eldest daughter, who was only four-years-old when her mother went missing.

Broken-hearted and alone, she avoided reporters for decades and has not commented amid the speculation about who killed Lyn.

In September this year, Shanelle finally shared her side of the story. She told 60 Minutes the absence of a mother left her feeling abandoned and confused for much of her life, but spoke fondly of her father, saying he was "fun".

She said he was a loving father to her, and struggled to see him as the man that others made him out to be.

 

Shanelle Dawson, the eldest daughter of Chris and Lyn, said the absence of a mother left her feeling confused and alone for much of her life.
Shanelle Dawson, the eldest daughter of Chris and Lyn, said the absence of a mother left her feeling confused and alone for much of her life.

 

SHERRYN DAWSON

Chris and Lyn's second daughter, and the younger sister of Shanelle. She was just two years old when her mother disappeared.

Sherryn was silent on the case for decades, but in June this year, she came out publicly defending her father.

"It's a witch hunt on my dad," Sherryn told The Gold Coast Bulletin. "My dad's getting hounded because there's all these people that have got it in for him.

"Rather than focusing on perhaps that there could be someone else."

 

Sherryn Dawson, the second daughter of accused murderer Chris Dawson, said there was a ‘witch hunt’ against her father.
Sherryn Dawson, the second daughter of accused murderer Chris Dawson, said there was a ‘witch hunt’ against her father.

 

PAUL DAWSON

Paul is Chris' twin brother. The pair have been close all their lives; Paul even became a high school sports teacher as well, while he and his wife lived just a few hundred metres from Chris and Lyn in Gilwinga Drive, Bayview.

Paul has long defended his brother in the wake of Lyn's disappearance, and moved with Chris to the Gold Coast in late 1984, where he became a deputy principal.

 

Paul (left) is Chris’ twin brother.
Paul (left) is Chris’ twin brother.

 

MARILYN DAWSON

Paul's wife, and Chris' sister-in-law. Marilyn was interviewed by the police in 1999, and recalled that Chris and Joanne took shelter in her home after returning from Queensland on Christmas Day in 1981.

According to The Australian, she believed Lyn did not fight for her marriage with Chris, and has stated strongly that she does not believe Chris had any involvement in Lyn's disappearance.

Neither Paul nor Marilyn appeared at the 2003 inquest into Lyn's disappearance.

 

Marilyn Dawson (right) pictured with her husband Paul.
Marilyn Dawson (right) pictured with her husband Paul.

PETER DAWSON

Chris' other brother, a lawyer. Peter defended Chris at two coronial inquests in 2001 and 2003.

In 2014, he wrote an email to Rebecca Hazel saying that Lyn had left her family.

Following his brother's arrest, Peter put out a statement on the family's behalf saying he had no doubt they'd be found innocent.

"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.

READ: Chris Dawson lawyer: Wives do go missing

 

Paul is Chris’ non-identical brother.
Paul is Chris’ non-identical brother.

 

KRISTEN DAWSON

The daughter of Chris and Joanne. Kristen has been out of the public eye for three decades.

But as her father was being extradited from Queensland to a New South Wales court, she said it was taking a toll on her family.

"It's a really hard time for us at the moment," she told the Daily Mail from her doorstep just after his arrest.

 

GREG SIMMS

Lyn's brother. Greg has spoken to the media since Chris' arrest yesterday, saying he was "quite emotional" when he heard the news.

"We've had a cry, we've cuddled, we're just completely over the moon that something has finally happened," he told The Australian.

Speaking to A Current Affair last night, Mr Simms said he was "stunned" by today's development but was staying hopeful.

"If you look back over the years, you might say we've been kicked in the guts a few times but we were hopeful this time and we've got there," he said.

 

Lyn Dawson's brother Greg Simms at home in Eleebana, Lake Macquarie.
Lyn Dawson's brother Greg Simms at home in Eleebana, Lake Macquarie.

 

MERILYN SIMMS

Greg's wife, and Lyn's sister-in-law. Merilyn said Lyn and Chris had a strained marriage prior to her disappearance.

She said Lyn was upset about Joanne living with them.

Merilyn and Greg were the first to receive the news of Chris' arrest yesterday. She immediately called her children to let them know.

 

Merilyn Simms pictured with her husband Greg, who is Lyn’s brother.
Merilyn Simms pictured with her husband Greg, who is Lyn’s brother.

 

RENEE SIMMS

Daughter of Greg and Merilyn Simms, and Lyn's niece. Lyn's friends and relatives have said they are often struck by her resemblance to her aunt.

Renee has also given several media interviews since Chris' arrest, describing a mixture of shock, relief and gratitude.

"We didn't know this was going to happen, and then just an overflow of emotions," she told 7.30 last night. "It's been 36 years that we've been waiting for something to happen, and the fact that it's happened today is initially shock and then just an absolute overflow of emotion."

 

Renee Simms, Lyn’s niece, has given media interviews since Chris’ arrest.
Renee Simms, Lyn’s niece, has given media interviews since Chris’ arrest.

 

 

PHIL SIMMS AND PAT JENKINS

Lyn's two siblings. The day before Chris' arrest, Pat spoke to The Australian about the investigation.

"They can't be much longer, surely. They've had it for so long," she said. "It's our last chance. Here's hoping, hey?''

She told The Daily Telegraph the arrest would be hard on the girls but hoped the news would help unite the family.

"I'm sure for (Shanelle) it will be very mixed, for (Sherryn) - she will be devastated, (she) believes totally in her father," she said at her Seaforth home.

"(Shanelle) wants the truth, she wants to honour her mother, she always talks about honouring her mother … the truth has to come out."

 

Lyn Dawson's sister Pat Jenkins.
Lyn Dawson's sister Pat Jenkins.

 

SUE DAWSON

Chris's third wife, with whom he lived in Queensland near Noosa.


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