WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The family of a Tennessee pharmacist who died on her honeymoon in Fiji decided to cremate her in the South Pacific country rather than take her home because her body was badly damaged, a lawyer representing the family.
Christe Chen, 36, died earlier this month at the exclusive Turtle Island resort. Her husband, Bradley Robert Dawson, 38, was charged with her murder and made his first appearance in the Lautoka High Court in Fiji on Wednesday.
The case has been adjourned to next month and Dawson, who remains in jail, has not yet pleaded guilty. If convicted, he could face a life sentence.
Lawyer Ronald Gordon, who represents Chen’s family, said Chen’s parents traveled to Fiji after their daughter’s death but did not embalm her body or take her to the United States. as they had hoped. Instead, they brought his ashes home.
Gordon said the newlyweds, who were based in Memphis, arrived in Fiji on July 7 for their honeymoon at the resort, which is on a 500-acre island and limited to 14 couples at a time.
Gordon said the couple were heard arguing at dinner on July 8 and that following an incident in their bedroom, Dawson fled by kayak to another island, taking his wallet but not his phone or his GPS watch.
It was not until the following afternoon, after the couple had missed breakfast and lunch, that staff discovered Chen’s body, Gordon said. He said she had multiple blunt head injuries.
Dawson was found by police about 36 hours later, Gordon said. He said Dawson may have tried to get to the main island of Fiji, but stayed on the isolated island inhabited only by indigenous people who alerted others to Dawson’s presence.
Dawson’s attorney, Iqbal Khan, said from what he knows so far, he doesn’t see the elements of the murder. He said investigators have not yet given him full information about the case, including the autopsy report, but what happened could have been an accident.
Khan said Dawson left the resort because “he freaked out, he was shocked”. He said Dawson was devastated to lose his wife and was slowly recovering.
NBC News reported that Dawson worked as an information technology specialist for a nonprofit organization, Youth Villages, while Chen worked as a pastry chef before returning to school to become a pharmacist, and worked there. title in a Kroger supermarket in Memphis.
Last year, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Pharmacy congratulated Chen on Facebook for winning an award, the Wolters Kluwer Clinical Drug Information Award of Excellence in Clinical Communication.