True Crime Podcasts Making Cold Cases Hot Topics

“The Teacher’s Pet” arrest is the latest time that journalists have cracked cases open

True crime podcasts are shaking up justice worldwide.

Today, NSW police confirmed that 70-year-old former teacher Chris Dawson is set to be extradicted from Queensland to face murder charges, in a case that has captured the world due to The Australian’s The Teacher’s Pet podcast.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said that the arrest came about after two people provided statements regarding Ms Dawson’s death in April this year,

The award-winning podcast by journalists Hedley Thomas and Slade Gibson has been downloaded more than 27 million times since it launched earlier this year, unearthing new evidence and witnesses and sparking renewed interest in the 36-year-old case.

It’s the latest example of where criminal cases have been reopened in the wake of podcast-driven investigations.

The first true crime podcast to sweep the world was the 2014 American series Serial, and earlier this year, 37-year-old Adnan Syed, who was convicted in 2000 of the murder of his girlfriend Hae Min Lee, was granted a new trial.

Last month, the team behind the ABC podcast Unravel and documentary Barrenjoey Road uncovered new evidence which could lead to the location of the remains of Trudie Adams, who went missing on Sydney’s northern beaches in 1978, when she was aged 18.

The main suspect in Adams’ disappearance is Neville Tween, a convicted safe-breaker, drug dealer and sex offender who died in prison in 2013.

And the ABC’s Rachael Brown has been investigating the death of mother-of-two Maria James in June 1980 through her Trace podcast. Last week a new coronial inquiry was opened into Ms James’ murder.

Tonight on The Project, we speak to Rachael Brown about how podcasts can work with police to shed light on long-lost cases.