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The presumed murder of Patricia Dawson

Posted on 09/04/2020

Patricia Mary Dawson was reported as a missing person on 14 April 1972.

Her husband, Peter Dawson, said that he had last seen her at 11.15pm on Tuesday 11 April 1972 when he drove from the couple’s Ingle Farm house to Adelaide to buy a newspaper.

He claimed to have left the 33-year old at home with their two children, aged four and six.

When he returned home at 12.30am on 12 April 1972 he said she was gone – finding both children in bed asleep.

He told police he discovered about $390 in cash gone from his wife’s bedroom wardrobe as well as some of her clothing.

Mr Dawson later told family members she had gone off in a black car with her boyfriend.

His claims at the time led police to believe that Patricia Dawson had left home voluntarily, so her disappearance was not initially treated as suspicious.

Despite checks with relatives and friends there has been no contact from, or sightings of Mrs Dawson since the night of her disappearance.

It wasn’t until a review of the case more than 30 years later that detectives from South Australia’s major crime squad discovered sufficient new evidence to charge Mr Dawson with murdering his first wife.

She is now presumed to have been murdered.

In 2005, police arrested Peter Dawson for her murder and he was committed for trial. However, prior to the trial commencing the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions determined there was insufficient evidence for the matter to proceed.

Peter Dawson has since died.

A reward of up to $200,000 remains on offer for information that leads to a conviction in this case or the recovery of Patricia’s remains.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at


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