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Wife arrested in penis-severing case; life sentence possible

Catherine Kieu Becker, 48, of Garden Grove is accused of lacing her husband's dinner with drugs and then cutting off his penis with a kitchen knife. The couple were divorcing, police say.

July 12, 2011|By Andrew Blankstein and Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
  • Police say Catherine Kieu Becker drugged her estranged husband, tied him to a bed, cut off his penis with a knife and threw it down a garbage disposal in her home in Garden Grove.
Police say Catherine Kieu Becker drugged her estranged husband, tied him… (Garden Grove Police Dept.…)

A woman who allegedly laced her husband's dinner with drugs and then cut off his penis with a 10-inch kitchen knife could face a life sentence if convicted in the attack.

After officers arrived at the couple's Garden Grove home, Catherine Kieu Becker, 48, allegedly made a spontaneous statement to police that her husband "deserved it."

Police said they did not have a motive in the Monday evening attack, though court records showed that the couple — who had been married for 1 1/2 years — had begun divorce proceedings in May. The record showed that the couple have no children and suggested that the husband initiated the divorce.

"On the surface, we have nothing more than the divorce proceeding," said Lt. Jeff Nightengale of the Garden Grove Police Department. "We don't have any strong motive leading to this level of violence."

Officers arrived at the couple's home in the 14000 block of Flower Street after Becker called 911 about 9 p.m. Monday, and they found a bleeding man tied to a bed, according to police.

Becker, 48, told police she had drugged her husband's dinner to make him sleepy, tied him to the bed and then cut off his penis, which she tossed into the garbage disposal.

The 51-year-old victim, whose name was not released, was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery.

Becker was arrested on suspicion of aggravated mayhem, false imprisonment, assault with a deadly weapon, administering a drug with intent to commit a felony, poisoning and spousal abuse.

The severe nature of the crime led detectives to classify it as aggravated mayhem, an offense punishable by up to life in prison, Nightengale said.

"You're not just depriving a person of a member or portion of their body or disfiguring them," he said, "you're doing something that's so egregious we're not sure what's going to happen, if they're going to be able to reattach this or repair this person after such a violent attack."

Becker is being held on $1-million bail.

Police said they recovered some rope and a "really sharp" knife from the couple's home.

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

tony.barboza@latimes.com

Los Angeles Times staff writer Nicole Santa Cruz contributed to this report.

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