Saturday, March 5, 2011

Who Killed Dawn Viens?

This week, investigators, working with a crew of firefighters and coroner's office personnel, used jackhammers to dig up the concrete floor and tear down the interior walls of the Thyme Café, owned by Dawn and David Viens. They also used a cadaver-sniffing dogs. They were looking for Dawn.

Unfortunately, they didn’t find her–not yet, anyway. Dawn, in her late 30s, was reported missing 16 months ago after she was last seen at the restaurant in the quaint village of Lomita, California. It’s the latest turn of events in a case that has left her distraught family and friends searching, to no avail, for her body. Police, on March 3, filed a murder charge against her 47-year-old husband David.

Earlier in the week, David, after learning he was a suspect in his wife's disappearance and as a way, apparently, to evade police, dove off of an 80-foot cliff.

That day, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies had received information that Viens had been driving near the rugged Pacific coastline. Fearing he might attempt suicide, a patrol unit was dispatched, found him and began following his car. When Viens spotted the black-and-white in his rear-view mirror, he sped toward a lighthouse parking lot, parked and jumped out of the car. Also there was Kathy Galvan, Viens’ live-in girlfriend. Deputies witnessed the pair wrestling with each other, intervened, and that’s when Viens broke free and jumped off the cliff to the beach below.

But David had not plunged to his death. He was life-flighted, in a helicopter, to a local hospital. Doctors, following surgery to repair massive internal injuries and broken bones, put him in a medicinally induced coma to keep swelling of his brain to a minimum. He was in intensive care and classified as in critical conditon.

After the jump, Sheriff's Lt. Dave Coleman described surviving such a jump as “amazing.”

"That was a pretty steep cliff, and he landed squarely on the rocks below,” the lieutenant told AOL News. “The area is steps away from the Trump National Golf Course.”

Then, Coleman told AOL News, “We intend to talk to him in the hospital. He has carried a tremendous amount of guilt for some time because he knows he killed her. He will be arrested and charged with Dawn's murder."

And that’s exactly what they did. Once Viens was lifted from the coma, authorities once again interviewed him. Then the case was sent to the district attorney’s office, and, on March 3, the charge of murder was handed down against David Viens for the death of his wife.

Concerned family and friends had reported Dawn missing about three weeks after she was seen, for the last time, at the couple's restaurant in the quaint village city of Lomita. The couple had previously owned Basil & Rosemary's, also in Lomita, but it went out of business. After her disappearance, David remodeled the restaurant, prompting sheriff's deputies to search there for Dawn's body.

In 2005, Viens was arrested in Florida and ultimately served prison time for drug trafficking, according to the Daily Breeze. At the time, Dawn described her husband to authorities as a "middle dealer" and, "due to the dealing," the couple were able to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. 

Just after David’s failed attempt at suicide, a handmade note was posted on the cafe's front door, along with flowers left there, that read, “RIP Dawn Viens.”

Indeed. It is a sad but compelling case. And so it is that I am letting the cat out of the bag and reporting here that the Dawn Viens story is my next true crime book, which will be my ninth nonfiction book. It has all the elements, and my agent agrees.

If you knew Dawn or David, frequented one of their restaurants, or have any information about the couple, please feel free to contact me at: Cathy At CathyScott dot com.

Photo credit of Dawn Viens: LACrimeStoppers


Donna Pendergast said...

Interesting case Cathy. I was scheduled to talk about it on Levi's show last week but we had technical difficulties halfway through the show. Sounds like it will be an interesting book.

Dr. Gina Simmons said...

If anyone can sniff out what happened in this case, you can Cathy. I look forward to reading your book!

Cathy Scott said...

Thanks so much for your vote of confidence, Gina!

Cathy Scott said...

Thanks, Donna. It is a fascinating case -- albeit a sad one.