Restaurant owner admits to killing his wife, authorities say
David Viens told detectives he killed Dawn Viens, who went missing in 2009.
A Lomita restaurant Owner who was arrested in the slaying of his wife admitted to killing her after initially claiming that she had vanished, authorities said Wednesday.
David Viens, 47, said during an interview with detectives Tuesday evening at a hospital that he had killed Dawn Viens, according to authorities.
David Viens is recovering from injuries he sustained last week after jumping off a Rancho Palos Verdes cliff as Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies pursued him. "He implicated himself in her killing," said sheriff's Lt. David Coleman. Viens' girlfriend also provided information that tied him to his wife's death, Coleman said.
Dawn Viens went missing in October 2009. Her husband told police that she walked away from the Thyme Contemporary Cafe, which they owned, and never returned.
Dawn Viens body has still not been found.
After two days of digging at the restaurant, authorities abandoned their search for the body at the site. "At this point, coroner's officials are satisfied she is not there," Coleman said.
Authorities used heavy excavating equipment to cut through the foundation of the cafe after leads suggested Dawn Viens' body was hidden there. Coleman said David Viens remodeled the restaurant after his wife's disappearance, including laying new concrete. David Viens, who sustained critical injuries in the fall, was booked Tuesday on suspicion of murder.
Before he jumped from the cliff, Viens apparently spotted deputies watching him and sped off in a car, authorities said. In the parking lot of the Point Vicente Lighthouse, Viens and his girlfriend got out of the car and became involved in a scuffle. When deputies tried to break up the struggle, Viens ran and jumped from the 100-foot cliff.
The cafe is one of four locations where investigators served search warrants this week. Authorities said Viens never reported his wife missing. Her family and friends went to police three weeks after she disappeared. Viens told detectives and friends that they should look for Dawn Viens in the mountains because she liked going there. But investigators said they were skeptical because her wallet, cellphone and other belongings were left behind. Suspicions grew when Viens girlfriend took over his wife's job at the restaurant and moved into his home.
The Los Angeles Times 03 March 2011
Ex-Manatee chef who said he 'cooked' wife found guilty
A Los Angeles jury has found former Manatee County resident David Viens, the chef who told authorities he cooked his dead wife's body to dispose of it, guilty of second-degree murder. Jurors deliberated about 52 hours over three days. Viens formerly owned Beach City Market in Bradenton Beach and Island Kitchen and Market on Anna Maria Island, according to previous reports by the Herald.
Dawn Viens, 39, disappeared almost three years ago. Her body has never been found. Her husband gave a grisly explanation as to why in an interview with sheriff's investigators.
David Viens said he packed his wife' sbody into a large drum and slow-cooked it in boiling water for days, according to the interview played for ju- rors.
He poured much of what remained into the grease trap of his restaurant in the L.A. area community of Lomita, and threw other remains in the trash, he said.
"I just slowly cooked it andI ended up cooking her for four days," he said.
In the weeks that followed, Viens tried to cover his tracks with a string of lies and fake text messages, according to court testimony. He tried to manipulate everyone who asked, 'Where's Dawn?" Deputy District Attorney Deborah Brazil told the jury. "Don't let him manipulate you as well."
Defense attorney Fred Mc- Curry did not challenge the premise that Dawn Viens was dead, nor did he suggest that she was slain by someone other than her husband. But he said the evidence didn't support the first-degree murder conviction the prosecution was seeking, which requires proof of premeditation.
Dawn Viens died as an unintentional result of David Vi- ens' actions," McCurry said. That's not murder." In the defense's telling which mirrors the account Viens gave to his daughter, Viens duct-taped his wife's mouth, bound her hands and feet and fell asleep. When he woke up, she was dead. Convinced no one would believe the death was an accident, Viens tossed his wife's body in a trash bin at his restaurant, Thyme Contemporary Cafe, the defense argued.
In February 2011, after Viens learned that investigators suspected that he had killed his wife, he leaped off an 80-foot seaside cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes. While hospitalized with multiple fractures, he gave two interviews to investigators that were played for the jury; in the second, he described a grisly body-disposal process that his attorney said was too fantastical to believe.
At the time, McCurry reminded jurors, Viens was suffering from "excruciating' pain and taking a cocktail of drugs that a defense expert suggested could impair his alertness and memory.
During the interview, Viens spoke of being"confused"by his dreams and, while he told investigators that he'd stashed his wife's skull in his mother's attic, authorities never found it. McCurry also brought up more practical matters. Is it even feasible to boil a body in water?" he asked. And if Viens did so in a fully operating restaurant, wouldn't someone have complained about the stench? They wanted to get you with emotion to override your reason," McCurry said. Brazil countered that Viens, ac cording to testimony from the couple's friend Karen Patter- son, had a pattern of abusing his wife.
Patterson said that inAugust 2009, when she asked Dawn Viens about marks on the right side of her neck, Viens said her husband had choked her. The next month, Patterson said, her frightened friend called her and said she'd locked herself in the bathroom to keep her enraged husband at bay. Patterson said she heard David Viens pounding on the door and screaming,. Patterson wanted to call the police, she said through tears, but Dawn Viens begged her not to.
On the night of Oct. 18, 2009, according to the couple's friend Todd Staggnito, David Viens was convinced that his wife had been stealing money from their restaurant.
"I'll kill that bitch,"
Staggnito quoted him as saying. But a chef who was also present during the conversation, Charlie Negrete, testified that he didn't recall hearing that. Sometime after midnight Oct.19, both sides said, Dawn Viens was dead. Brazil pointed to Staggnito's testimony as proof of premeditation, and reminded jurors that "a cold, calculated decision to kill can be reached quickly"
She added that without a body there was no way to know whether Viens died in a more brutal way than her husband suggested; perhaps that's why he got rid of the evidence. David Viens told his wife's worried friends and relatives that she'd left him. To them, he appeared oddly unconcerned. Within weeks, he started dating a Thyme waitress named Kathy Galvan who was two decades his junior. Meanwhile, his daughter, Jacqueline Viens, testified, that her father admitted during a drunken conversation that his wife was dead. He also asked her to send a text message from his wife's phone to Patterson to assuage her suspicions.
But the message rang false, Patterson testified, particularly since it misspelled her friend's nickname, Pixie, as "Pixy"In November 2009, Dawn Viens' sister not her husband - reported her missing.
The Bradenton Herald 28, Sept 2012