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 a physical argument in [their] relationship.”
Dawson, 38, faces a murder charge in connection with the death of Christe Chen Dawson, 36, while the couple were on their honeymoon vacation. The couple married in February.
In an exclusive interview Tuesday with ABC News from a prison visitation room, Dawson said he fled by kayak to a nearby island on July 8, the day police said Chen died of multiple blunt head injuries.
“I just wanted to give her some space. It was okay for me to walk around,” he said. He added that the couple were drunk at the time of their argument.
Chen’s body was discovered the next day by a housekeeper at the Turtle Island Resort, an exclusive resort that only accommodates 14 couples at a time and was the site of the 1980 film “The Blue Lagoon.” Dawson was arrested two days later. 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 obtained legal representation.
Incarcerated since his arrest, Dawson appeared at a preliminary bail hearing at the Lautoka High Court in Fiji on Wednesday wearing a red collared shirt, shorts and flip-flops, and was handcuffed to a other man. Judge Riyaz Hamza denied a request by Dawson’s lawyer to release his client on bail before his trial.
“This case may take two years – why should he stay indoors for so long?” said lawyer Iqbal Khan. Hamza postponed the bail hearing to September 1 due to a technicality with the post-mortem report, which has yet to be finalized.
During the same hearing, Hamza also rejected a request from a Chen family attorney to serve as an official party to the case, which would have allowed them access to evidence used in the trial. Hamza said Fijian law makes the prosecutor the sole representative of victims in criminal cases.
According to a police report obtained by ABC News, a vacationer staying on Turtle Island at the same time as the couple said Dawson and his wife seemed happy the night of the alleged fight. According to the police report, the holidaymaker said she later heard “loud banging noises” in the couple’s bedroom.
“It was as if someone was drunk and unable to control themselves inside. And then we heard a loud scream followed by a loud noise and after that there was complete silence,” a- she told police, according to the report. A staff member confirmed to ABC News that the resort received a complaint that night about 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 have been cooperating with authorities during the investigation and police left the island over a week ago,” the resort told ABC News in a statement in July. “We understand that charges have been filed in this matter. Our top priority is the safety and concern for our guests and our team, whom we value as a 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 any further requests to the authorities.
Dawson, an IT specialist, said he “prayed every day” for Chen, who he described as “everything for me”.
“What I can say is I’m so sorry for the situation we’re all going through right now. We were supposed to have an amazing vacation and I lost my wife,” he said.
“Just thinking she’s gone is so painful. I think about her all the time,” he said. “We were meant to have amazing lives.”