Friday, September 21, 2012

Shocker in the Dawn Viens Missing Person's Case

by Cathy Scott

As promised by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Dave Coleman in 2011, detectives planned to talk at length with David Viens, who has long been suspected of killing his missing wife, Dawn.

Investigators did more than that. They interviewed David Viens' daughter, from an earlier relationship, about the goings-on immediately after Dawn disappeared in 2009 from the quaint village of Lomita, California.

In 2011, investigators jack-hammered and tore down interior walls of the Thyme Café, owned by Dawn and David Viens. Deputies also used a cadaver-sniffing dog.

They were on the right track. This week, the sheriff's department announced a shocking revelation gleaned from interviews with the daughter and the confession of her father. It is this: David Viens told police he "slow cooked" his wife's body for four days in a brand-new cooker he'd purchased for the cafe. He then hid her skull and jaw in his mother's attic.

David had been having an affair with a younger woman and, a week after Dawn's disappearance, witnesses saw him tossing out Dawn's clothing. Then he moved his new girlfriend into his home. On top of that, the girlfriend took over Dawn's duties at the cafe.

Dawn, who was in her late 30s, was last seen by friends on October 18, 2009 leaving her the cafe.

Not long after her disappearance, however, as law enforcement zeroed in on David, as a deputy tailed him while driving on Pacific Coast Highway, David stopped his car, ran to the cliff and jumped 80 feet to the beach below. He survived but suffered multiple fractured bones and internal injuries. After he recovered, he confessed to police and he was indicted for murder.

Meanwhile, in exchange for the daughter's damning statements about her father David and to secure her eventual testimony in court, the daughter reportedly was given immunity from prosecution. She told deputies that the day after Dawn disappeared, David Viens gave her Dawn's cell phone and asked her to pose as Dawn and send text messages to Dawn's friends and family saying she needed time for herself and would be out of town for a few days. As days turned into weeks, David became the main person of interest.

These kinds of details, albeit some of them grisly, have the makings for a true crime story. In fact, the Dawn Viens story is my next true crime book (I started the manuscript late last year). You can't make this stuff up.


Cozy in Texas said...

I wonder if the new girlfriend had any idea. These type of men can be very charming so she may have been swept off her feet.

Cathy Scott said...

Good point. The girlfriend no doubt was interviewed by police. But she's not named by investigators as a witness, so, at this juncture, it's looking like she didn't know. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Anonymous said...

I am startled by two things. One is cooking his ex-wife... it would have been easier and more anonymous to put her in the ocean with sharks, wouldn't it? Yet, he chose a grotesque and dangerously public way of disposing of her and then he kept her skull in mom's attic. It sort of reminds me of someone who has a fetish for these things, that it wasn't just a way to dispose of his wife, but a way to indulge himself. Has he killed
before? The second is the daughters lack of conscience, the fundamental sense of "there is something really wrong, and I need to tell someone and make it right".
Instead she waited until she might share the blame and then cut a deal for herself. The apple didn't fall far from the tree.
And as for the girlfriend.... she just probably liked being special.