(LAUTOKA, Fiji) — Bradley Robert Dawson, a Memphis man police say fatally beat his wife last month at an exclusive resort in Fiji, told ABC News the couple “never had any physical arguments in [their] relationship.”
Dawson, 38, is facing a murder charge in connection to the death of Christe Chen Dawson, 36, while the couple vacationed on their honeymoon. The couple was married in February.
In an exclusive interview Tuesday with ABC News from a jail visiting room, Dawson said he fled on a kayak to a neighboring island on July 8, the day police said Chen died of multiple blunt trauma wounds to her head.
“I just wanted to give her some space. It was normal for me to take a walk,” he said. He added that the couple was drunk at the time of their argument.
Chen’s body was discovered the next day by a housekeeper at Turtle Island Resort, an exclusive resort that caters to only 14 couples at one time and was the site of the 1980 film “The Blue Lagoon.” Dawson was arrested two days later. The police did not tell him of his wife’s death, Dawson said. Authorities, however, told ABC News that Dawson initially confessed to the murder but stopped cooperating once he secured legal representation.
Incarcerated since his arrest, Dawson appeared at a preliminary bail hearing at Fiji’s Lautoka High Court Wednesday wearing a red collared shirt, shorts and flip-flops, and was handcuffed to another man. Judge Riyaz Hamza rejected a request from Dawson’s attorney to release his client on bail before his trial.
“This case may take two years — why should he remain inside for that long?” said attorney Iqbal Khan. Hamza postponed the bail hearing to Sept. 1 due to a technicality with the postmortem report, which was not yet finalized.
During the same hearing, Hamza also rejected a request from an attorney for the Chen family to serve as a formal party to the case, which would have allowed them access to evidence used in the trial. Hamza said Fiji law makes the prosecutor the sole representative for victims in criminal cases.
According to a police report obtained by ABC News, a vacationer staying at Turtle Island at the same time as the couple, said Dawson and his wife appeared happy the evening of the alleged fight. The vacationer said she later heard “loud banging sounds” from the couple’s room, according to the police report.
“It was as if someone was drunk and unable to control themselves inside. And then we heard a loud scream followed by a big loud bang and after that there were complete silence,” she told police, according to the report. A staff member confirmed to ABC News that the resort received a complaint that night about the noise emanating from the couple’s room. The resort waited until the next day to check the room when the couple failed to show up for meals.
“We cooperated with the authorities during the investigation and the police left the island over a week ago,” the resort told ABC News in a statement in July. “It is our understanding that charges have been filed in the case. Our highest priority is the safety and concern for our guests and team, both who we value as family, and we are extremely saddened by the event. We continue to send our condolences to Ms. Chen’s family, friends, and colleagues. Given the need to respect the privacy of our guests and the ongoing legal investigation, please direct all further inquiries to the authorities.”
Dawson, an IT specialist, said he is “praying every day” for Chen, whom he described as “my everything.”
“What I can say is I am so sorry for the situation we are all going through now. We were supposed to have amazing holidays and I lost my wife,” he said.
“Just thinking she is not here anymore is so painful. I am thinking of her all the time,” he said. “We were supposed to have an amazing life.”
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