She and her sister were led to believe that their mother had abandoned them. Shortly after Lynette’s disappearance, Chris Dawson, Shanelle’s father, moved their 18-year-old babysitter into their home, marrying her two years later.
Four decades later, after a lengthy police investigation and a highly publicized trial, Chris Dawson was sentenced to 24 years in prison for the murder of Lynette. Shanelle, in a conversation with Sarah Kanowski on ABC Conversations, opened up about the emotional turmoil she experienced, grappling with the realization that her father was responsible for her mother’s death.
Growing up, Shanelle noticed several red flags. There were no photographs of her mother in their home, and any mention of Lynette was met with an uncomfortable silence. As she matured, Shanelle began to question her father’s narrative, especially when inconsistencies emerged in his accounts of Lynette’s disappearance.
One of the most telling signs for Shanelle was her father’s misogynistic comments about Lynette, which raised suspicions about his involvement in her disappearance. Despite her growing doubts, Shanelle struggled with the idea of confronting her father, fearing the potential fallout within her family.
The turning point came with the release of “The Teacher’s Pet” podcast in 2018, which delved into Lynette’s suspected murder. The podcast reignited police interest in the case, leading to Chris Dawson’s arrest and subsequent conviction.
Shanelle expressed her mixed emotions during the trial, describing the heartbreak of seeing her father taken into custody and the relief of finally knowing the truth. She bravely read her victim impact statement in court, addressing her father directly and questioning his motives for taking away their mother.
Despite the pain and trauma, Shanelle is gradually finding closure and healing. She cherishes the memories of her mother and hopes to move forward, focusing on the positive aspects of life and her own family.