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Restaurant owner admits to killing his wife, authorities say

David Viens told detectives during an interview this week that he killed Dawn Viens. She went missing in 2009. Authorities have searched David Viens' Lomita restaurant for her body, but it has not been found.

March 03, 2011|By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
  • Investigators dig through the concrete floor at Thyme Contemporary Cafe in a search for Dawn Viens' remains. David Viens remodeled the restaurant after his wife disappeared. Officials now believe her body isn't at the site.
Investigators dig through the concrete floor at Thyme Contemporary Cafe… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

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.

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