American woman killed on Fiji honeymoon had ‘horrific’ injures that were no accident: lawyer

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EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: The Tennessee pharmacist murdered in Fiji on her honeymoon had “horrific injuries” that could not have resulted from an accident, as her husband and suspected killer claimed through his defense lawyer, according to the attorney for her family.

Fiji police discovered Christe Chen, a Memphis 39-year-old, beaten to death in the bathroom of a luxurious room at the Turtle Island Resort on Nanuya Levu on July 9, according to authorities. They arrested her husband, Bradley Robert Dawson, 38, two days later on Nadi, the country’s main island, on suspicion of murder.

The medical examiner found “multiple blunt force injuries around head and face,” Ronald Gordon, her family’s lawyer, told Fox News Digital. When her parents visited her in the morgue, he added, her mother “was inconsolable because of the injuries.”

“It doesn’t look like it was an accidental pushing, and she fell and hit her head and something happened,” he said. “We’re of the view that she was repeatedly assaulted, but that remains something that will come out in the criminal proceedings.”

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Christe Chen Dawson in a photo shared by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Pharmacy last year when it honored her for excellence in clinical communication.

Christe Chen Dawson in a photo shared by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Pharmacy last year when it honored her for excellence in clinical communication. (University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Pharmacy)

Lacerations around her eyes were so deep, he said, that the hospital advised her family against embalming Chen in order to transfer her remains back to the U.S. The wounds were so severe the morgue attendant feared embalming fluid might leak out.

“They were compelled, unfortunately, to have her cremated here in Lautoka,” he said.

But the island doesn’t have a crematorium, Gordon said. They cremated her body on an open-wood funeral pyre.

Chen and Dawson married in February after just a few months of dating and were visiting the exclusive five-star resort, which costs more than $2,000 a night for its cheapest room, for their honeymoon.

Days into the trip, Dawson, an IT worker at a children’s nonprofit, took off under suspicious circumstances, according to police. He allegedly told a local man he’d had an argument with his wife and kayaked away from the resort.

EXCLUSIVE ACCESS LUXURY BEACHSIDE RESORT IN FIJI AT CENTER OF TENNESSEE WOMAN’S HONEYMOON MURDER

Chen's Facebook profile depicts a lighthearted woman who loved dogs and trained to run a marathon to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Chen’s Facebook profile depicts a lighthearted woman who loved dogs and trained to run a marathon to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. (Christe Chen Dawson/Facebook)

“He left his very sophisticated GPS watch outside the room and left his room with just his wallet and his passport, and so it just shows his intention was to flee the country,” Gordon said. “We certainly think he’s a flight risk and will be opposing the application for bail.”

Additionally, Chen’s remains were not discovered for a full day, Gordon said.

“So the father doesn’t know if she was alive when he left her, if she could’ve been saved if someone had found her,” he said. “He was quite concerned that Christe would have suffered.”

Chen’s parents considered visiting Dawson in the Fiji jail, but their lawyer said he advised against it, and they ultimately agreed.

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Christe Chen Dawson in an undated photo.

Christe Chen Dawson in an undated photo. (Christe Chen Dawson/Facebook)

“She’s the only child. She had just finished her pharmacy qualifications, looking forward to commencing a new life as a pharmacist,” he said. “The family is very, very distraught. They’ve lost an only child. And they keep asking us, and themselves as well, why? Why did he do this?”

Gordon said that wrongful death lawsuits could be filed both in Fiji and in the U.S., but the family’s immediate focus is on the pending criminal trial at the Lautoka High Court. Prosecutors there were given three weeks to file the Fiji version of an indictment, called the “information,” he said.

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Dawson’s next court date was set for August 18, but he is expected to appear before that as he applies for bail, which prosecutor Alvin Singh and Chen’s family have indicated they will oppose.

Dawson’s lawyer Iqbal Khan did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Fox News Digital.