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A leading forensic pathologist says it’s “odd” that Tennessee bride Christe Chen, 39, was cremated in Fiji rather than shipped back to the U.S. for a second autopsy, even though her family’s lawyer maintains her injuries were so severe she couldn’t have been transported otherwise.
Fiji police say they found Chen dead at the Turtle Island Resort – located on an exclusive private island in Fiji – with severe traumatic injuries to her face, head and back. They arrested her husband, Bradley Robert Dawson, 38 on July 11 on another island, after he allegedly fled the resort following an argument.
Ronald Gordon, the attorney for Chen’s family, previously told Fox News Digital the victim had suffered such horrific injuries that the hospital staff told her parents she would have to be cremated before being returned to the United States.
Lacerations around her eyes were so deep that the hospital advised her family against embalming Chen in order to transfer her remains, he said. The wounds were so severe the morgue attendant feared that embalming fluid might leak out.
“They were compelled, unfortunately, to have her cremated here in Lautoka,” he said.
Dr. Michael Baden told Fox News Digital that Chen’s remains could have been returned to the U.S. in a sealed casket for further forensic analysis and disputed the idea entirely.
“The body doesn’t have to be embalmed… the United States is one of the very few countries that does embalming,” he said.
The body doesn’t disappear. So whatever, no matter what the condition of the body is, the next of kin has a right to make its own burial arrangements.
Baden, the former chief medical examiner of New York City and a Fox News contributor, questioned whether there had been a miscommunication involved.
“Even it was a skeletal remains, the body doesn’t disappear,” he added. “What I’m trying to say: The body doesn’t disappear. So whatever, no matter what the condition of the body is, the next of kin has a right to make its own burial arrangements.”
Baden, who has worked past cases in Fiji, said he didn’t understand the reasoning – noting that the remains of soldiers killed in war are still shipped back in coffins, rather than urns.
“If it’s true that they were told it was in no condition to be sent to the United States, then somebody misled them,” he said.
As for the injuries themselves – severe lacerations and blunt-force trauma – he said they are indicative that the crime was personal but not enough alone to convict the husband.
“People who know each other closely can give violent love and violent hate, and so overkill often suggests a close relationship,” he said. “But that’s not enough to say the husband did it.”
Prosecutors have not yet filed specific allegations as to what happened on the night of Chen’s murder. A judge last week gave them 21 days to do so.
“If there’s 20 blows to the body and head, that would indicate that the police will think they ought to look closely at the husband,” he added. “But that isn’t proof — they have to get other evidence.”
According to Gordon, Dawson fled the resort the night of the slaying, leaving behind his “sophisticated GPS watch” and bringing only his passport and wallet.
“His intention was to flee the country,” he said. “We certainly think he’s a flight risk and will be opposing the application for bail.”
Dawson is due back in court later this month.
His attorney has declined to answer multiple requests for comment.