David Viens, California man, murders wife, confesses to ‘slow cooking’ her
David Viens was a southern California chef, who is facing charges of murdering his wife, whose body has never been found. In court this week, Viens provided some horrifying details, which include ‘slowly cooking’ her for four days in a 55-gallon drum.
Viens summoned detectives to his hospital room at County-USC Medical Center on March 15, 2011, three weeks after he jumped from a Rancho Palos Verdes cliff in a suicide attempt as detectives closed in.
The transcript of the recorded statement was played at his murder trial in Superior Court in downtown Los Angeles. Viens, sitting in his wheelchair, appeared to stare straight ahead.
Dawn Viens was “slow cooked” for days, most of her remains were discarded into the grease pit at his restaurant with her skull and jawbone hidden in his mother’s attic.
Authorities have not been able to locate these remains.
“I manipulated her so the face was – the face is down, and I took some – some things – like weights that we use, and I put them on the top of her body, and I just slowly cooked it and I ended up cooking her for four days,” Viens said.
“You cooked Dawn’s body for four days?” sheriff’s homicide Sgt. Richard Garcia asked.
“I cooked her four days,” he said. “I let her cool. I strained it out.”
Viens is charged with killing his wife, who was last seen Oct. 18, 2009.
After Viens learned in February 2011 that investigators suspected he’d played a role in her disappearance, he leaped off an 80-foot cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes — feet first, arms raised, screaming.
DETAILS LEADING TO MURDER
David Viens told detectives that on Oct. 18, the night police believe she was murdered, he argued with his wife about her excessive drinking. “She was, uh, yeah, wasted at work,” Viens said. “You know, she had issues with everybody … She ended up, you know, becoming a mean drunk.”
Earlier that day, Viens said, his wife was drunk again. She was so drunk, he said, that she lost money at the sandwich shop.
He dropped her off at home and returned to work, he said.
He returned home later that night to find her gone and went to bed after taking an Ambien, he initially told police. His wife was still missing the following day, so he texted and called her a number of times.
“After she left, a few days later, maybe a week to two weeks, I’m not exactly sure when it was, but I got a text message from her. And she said, ‘I’m OK. I’m with a friend.’”
“And by the way, I talked to her, my wife, Dawn, on the phone,” he said. “I talked to her the day I picked my daughter, Jackie, up from the airport. And when I spoke to Dawn on the phone, she told me she was with a friend, and she just needed time to herself.”
She finally came home on Oct. 25, he told detectives, and begged him to leave their life in Lomita and run away with her to the mountains. The following day, he told her she needed to check into rehab. The day after that, she was gone.
When customers at the sandwich shop asked about her, prosecutor Brazil said Viens offered various answers. “She’s gone to rehab,” he said. “She went to the mountains. She left for the East Coast to visit friends.”
Detectives interviewed longshoreman Todd Stagnitto, who told them that on the night she disappeared he saw her husband going through the restaurant receipts and counting up the day’s tally. Viens appeared agitated, Stagnitto said, and told him the money was short for that day.
“He said, ‘That bitch is stealing from me. Nobody steals from me. I will kill that bitch,” he testified. Later that night, Stagnitto said he got a call from a distraught Dawn: “She was crying and at times kind of incoherent and upset David was not happy with her work.” A few days later, he received a text message purportedly from Dawn explaining that she was leaving town. “I need to clear my head,” he said the message read.
Joe Cacase, the owner of a motorcycle repair shop adjacent to the sandwich shop. Prior to Dawn’s disappearance, he told detectives, she came to his work with an envelope full of money and asked him to hold onto it. She asked him not to tell her husband, he said. The night of her disappearance, she called Cacase again and said she had more money for him to hold for her. She told him she would stop by the next day, he said
She began a fight with him that Oct. 18 night as he was trying to fall asleep, he said. When she wouldn’t stop, he dragged her to the living room and bound her with duct tape. “And that was it,” he said on the tape. “I said, ‘Good night.’” He woke up hours later and discovered that she was dead, he said, and panicked. Then he placed her body in a plastic garbage bag and drove her to work.
“For some reason, I just got violent,” he told the detectives. “Seemed like it had to deal with her stealing money.”
“So you found her with money and you snapped,” said Sgt. Garcia.
“Yes,” he replied.