The body of Christe Chen, a newlywed Tennessee woman who was found dead inside the bathroom of her bungalow during her honeymoon, suffered such grievous injuries that it had to be cremated in Fiji.
Chen’s family lawyer Ronald Gordon told Daily Mail that her family plans to take civil action against her husband Bradley Robert Dawson, 38, in case he is not found criminally responsible for the death of Chen, 36.
Gordon also noted that Chen’s remains had to be cremated in Fiji due to her severe injuries, confirming that she suffered major blows to her body.
“The family will follow the proceedings to ensure justice is served for Christe given the horrific injuries she endured,” Gordon said. “The deceased was unable to be taken back to her home because of the nature of her injuries… so she had to be cremated here in Fiji and her ashes were taken back.”
A post-mortem exam report also revealed that she had suffered multiple traumatic injuries to her body and blunt force trauma to the head.
Chen’s parents arrived in Fiji on July 13.
“She is the only child of her parents and obviously they are quite devastated and they want to ensure that justice at the end of the day is given to her,” Gordon said.
Chen was found beaten to death inside the bathroom of the couple’s luxurious $3,500-a-night bungalow in Turtle Island Resort, a private island retreat in Fiji’s Yasawa Islands, on July 9. A local told Daily Mail that the couple had a “heated argument” on the day Chen was killed and that the Fijian police refused to comment on the matter.
After Chen and Dawson failed to show up for breakfast and lunch, their butler checked their room and found Chen’s bloodied body. Dawson was nowhere to be found after the butler alerted management and later called the Fiji Police Force.
Dawson was eventually located on July 10 at around 3 p.m. on Matacawalevu Island, about 1.2 miles across the water from the resort. The man told a 49-year-old local that he had left the resort between 2 and 3 a.m. on Saturday and paddled on a kayak to the island after his argument with Chen.
“He landed on a secluded beach, and I don’t know what he was doing after that,” Manoa Ratulele, the local, told Daily Mail, adding that Dawson “appeared disturbed,” so he offered him water and help.
“At first, he kept refusing food and water and insisted he was OK, but I insisted he had some water, and after that, he said, ‘Please, I need to call the police.’” Ratulele continued, noting that the man was drunk at the time.
“He didn’t tell us he had killed his wife but I could still smell alcohol on him. He continued to repeat that ‘We had a fight’ and offered no start or end to that story, just kept saying ‘We had a fight,’” Ratulele said.
Dawson purportedly left his GPS watch and phone at the resort and only had his passport and wallet with him when he was found, according to Gordon.
Fijian police took Dawson to Turtle Island Resort and later to Lautoka on Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island. He was charged with murder and was initially scheduled to appear in High Court on July 27 before the date was pushed back to Aug. 18.
Dawson and Chen got married in February, three months after they met. Chen was Dawson’s second wife.
In a statement following the incident, Turtle Island Resort confirmed Chen’s murder within the resort and said they “cooperated fully with the police who conducted a thorough investigation and have now left the Island.”
“Out of respect for those impacted and given it is an open legal matter, we cannot provide any further comment at this time. We are deeply saddened by the event and send our sincerest condolences to Ms. Chen’s family and friends,” the statement read.