Wellington, New Zealand – The family of a Tennessee pharmacist who died on his honeymoon in Fiji decided to cremate him in the South Pacific nation instead of bringing him home because his body was badly damaged, a lawyer representing the family said Thursday.
Christe Chen, 36, died earlier this month at the exclusive Turtle Island resort. Her husband, 38-year-old Bradley Robert Dawson, has been charged with her murder and appeared for the first time in Fiji’s Lutoka High Court on Wednesday.
The case was adjourned until next month and Dawson, who is in jail, has yet to file a petition. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Ronald Gordon, the lawyer representing Chen’s family, said Chen’s parents traveled to Fiji after their daughter’s death, but did not smear her body and took her to the US, as they were hoping. Were. Instead, they took his ashes home.
Gordon said the newlyweds, who were based in Memphis, arrived on July 7 for their honeymoon at the resort in Fiji, which is on a 500-acre island and is limited to 14 couples at a time.
Gordon said he was heard arguing over dinner on July 8 and, after an incident in his room, Dawson fled on a kayak to another island, but did not take his phone or GPS watch.
Gordon said that it wasn’t until the next afternoon, when the couple had eaten breakfast and lunch, that staff discovered Chen’s body. He said he had multiple blunt injuries on his head.
Gordon said police found Dawson about 36 hours later. He said that Dawson may have been trying to reach the main island of Fiji, but he was stuck on a remote island where only indigenous people lived who alerted others to Dawson’s presence.
Dawson’s lawyer, Iqbal Khan, said that from what he knows so far, he does not see elements of the murder. He said that investigators have not yet released all the information in the case including postmortem report, but what happened could have been an accident.
Khan said Dawson left the resort because “he was nervous, he was shocked.” He said Dawson was distressed by the loss of his wife and was slowly recovering.
NBC News reported that Dawson worked as an information technology specialist for Youth Village, a non-profit organization, while Chen worked as a pastry chef before returning to school to become a pharmacist, and Kroger in Memphis. Worked in that capacity at the supermarket.
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Pharmacy last year congratulated Chen on Facebook for winning the Wolters Kluwer Clinical Drug Information Award of Excellence in Clinical Communication.