Who was Christe Chen? Tennessee Man, 39, Accused of Beating His New Bride to Death So Badly on Their Honeymoon in Fiji That the Newly Married Pharmacist
Who was Christe Chen? A newlywed man accused of murdering his pharmacist wife at their honeymoon bungalow on an exclusive private island in Fiji has been refused bail pending trial. Bradley Dawson, 39, appeared in the Lautoka High Court on Wednesday afternoon (local time). He is accused of killing Christa Chen, 36, on July 9.
Dawson, of Memphis, allegedly beat Chen to death at the secluded $3,500-a-night Turtle Island Resort just two days after she checked in on her honeymoon.
Her brutally beaten body was found huddled in a small space between the toilet and the wall of the bungalow’s bathroom.
Bradley Dawson is seen on Wednesday arriving at a bond hearing in Lautoka, Fiji’s second largest city.
Dawson is accused of murdering his new wife, Christa Chen, on July 9.
Chen worked as a pharmacist at Kroger, while Dawson worked as an IT professional for Youth Villages, a non-profit organization that helps children. She previously worked as a baker in Colorado before moving to Tennessee to study pharmacy and then settle down.
The nonprofit where Dawson worked said she was suspended pending further information.
After Chen’s death, her friend Rena Schomburg told DailyMail.com that she was an only child and traveled with her mother on extravagant trips and posted photos of them on social media.
She described her boyfriend as “super sweet, kind, would do anything for anyone, outgoing, generous and so much fun.”
Schomburg said she had never met Dawson, but suggested that Chen might meet him at the marathon.
“She didn’t have a bad bone in her body,” Schomburg said.
Another friend, Matt Koenig, told DailyMail.com he was shocked by her murder.
“Christe was loving, funny, generous, the kind of person who could befriend anyone,” he said. it’s a hard day
Before leaving for Fiji, Chen told a neighbor how excited she was to spend her honeymoon in paradise.
Dawson’s lawyers suggested he stay at the home of an American citizen living in Fiji while awaiting trial, but the man is charged with rape and a judge said the deal was unsatisfactory.
Christe Chen Dawson, 39, married Bradley Robert Dawson, 38, in February, but she postponed their tropical paradise honeymoon until July.
Chen and Dawson, who met in November 2021, tied the knot three months later after a whirlwind romance. She was found dead just two days after her honeymoon at an elite private resort paid for by her parents, who were there regularly.
On Wednesday, Dawson’s lawyers asked the court to allow her to live in the home and care for US citizen John Berger while she awaits trial.
Berger, a pastoralist who has a house in the Nadi district, has lived in Fiji since 2011.
He met Dawson when the pair spent two weeks behind bars together in Natabua remand. Berger is accused of at least three counts of rape.
Judge Riyaz Hamza refused his request, saying it was “very unsatisfactory” to suggest Dawson should remain in custody of someone else charged with the offence.
The defense team proposed two women, both described as friends of Dawson’s family, as sureties. But Hamza said Dawson’s team had not provided satisfactory evidence of a long-term relationship between Dawson, Berger or the two sureties.
The medical examiner ruled Chen’s death a homicide and found that she had suffered a traumatic brain injury caused by bleeding into the brain, severe traumatic head injuries, and multiple traumatic injuries to the body. Her body was so badly injured that she could not be embalmed and was cremated before her parents took her ashes back to the United States.
Dawson pleaded not guilty in court two weeks ago, denying that he confessed to her murder at the time of her arrest. Police said Dawson made the statement but later retracted it when she sought legal help.
Fiji Police in the nearby town of Lautoka, less than an hour from Nadi International Airport. The kayak Dawson claimed he was traveling in was never found, according to a lawyer for Chen’s family.
When Dawson got out, he had been missing for 36 hours and police had been searching for him since the couple’s personal butler found Chen dead and covered in blood on the bathroom floor, raising the alarm at Turtle Island Resort management.
The manager, who had been with the couple at the same party the night before, reportedly called police in Fiji in the nearby town of Lautoka, less than an hour from Nadi International Airport.
Dawson also “looked upset” so Ratulele offered him water and help.
“At first he refused to eat and drink water and insisted he was fine, but I insisted he have some water and then he said, ‘Please, I have to call the police,’” Ratulele said, adding that Dawson was drunk.
He didn’t tell us he killed his wife, but I could still smell the alcohol on him. He kept saying ‘we had a fight’ and offered no beginning or end to the story, just kept saying ‘we had a fight’.
Ratulele said he is concerned that the entire Yasawa group of islands is full of resorts and tourists are often seen on the beaches that cradle the azure blue waters for which the area is known, but guests on Turtle Island are rarely seen. Resort wandering off the island.
“I was a bit worried because they are very rich people, we don’t find them on our beaches. We get snorkelers and back surfers, but not Turtle Island people. They are a rarity here. They are millionaires and are never far from resort managers,” he told DailyMail.com.
A team of three police officers soon arrived on the island of Matacawa Levu to take Dawson back to Turtle Island and then to Lautoka on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu, where he was charged with murder.
Once Dawson hired a lawyer, he refused to provide DNA samples to the police.
When news broke of Chen’s brutal murder, representatives of the Turtle Island Resort confirmed the incident in a statement to DailyMail.com, saying: “We can confirm that there was an incident between a couple on the island on July 9th that resulted in tragic consequences and charges have been filed.
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“We are co-operating fully with the police who have carried out a thorough investigation and have now left the island.
“Out of respect for those affected, and because this is an open legal matter, we are unable to provide further comment at this time. We are deeply saddened by this event and send our deepest condolences to Ms. Chen’s family and friends.”
Chen’s family’s lawyer, Ronald Gordon, told DailyMail.com that they will take civil action against Dawson if he is not held criminally responsible for his death and they also saw her battered body in the Lautoka morgue before being cremated.
Before their ill-fated honeymoon, Chen and Dawson shared a new $250,000 home on Elzey Avenue in the Cooper-Young area of Memphis.