The prosecution in the second-degree murder trial of former Bradenton Beach restaurant owner David Viens dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, Sept. 18.
That’s when the jury heard a March 2011 recording of Viens telling sheriff’s investigators the reason they could not find the body of his missing wife, Dawn, was because he cooked it until there was little left but the skull.
“I just slowly cooked it and I ended up cooking her for four days,” Viens, 49, could be heard saying on the detective’s recording, according to a news report from the Daily Breeze newspaper in Las Angeles. The recording was made at the hospital as Viens lay in bed recovering after jumping off an 80-foot cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes. He jumped after learning he was a suspect in her death.
In the recording, Viens also told authorities he stuffed Dawn Viens’ body in a 55-gallon barrel of boiling water and used weights to keep it submerged, face down. After four days of boiling, he mixed what was left in the drum with other waste, dumping some of it in his restaurant’s grease trap.
Viens said the only significant part of his wife’s body that was left was her skull and he hid it in his mother’s attic in Torrance, Cal., but when police searched the house earlier, they found nothing.
Viens told sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Garcia that he was enraged at his wife when he noticed money missing from the restaurant on Oct. 18, 2009, and when he got home that night, they argued and he forced her to the floor, wrapped her up and put a piece of duct tape over her mouth. He said when he awoke four hours later, she was dead.
Viens told the sergeant he panicked and put her body in a plastic bag after he realized she was dead. He took her to his restaurant Thyme Contemporary Café in Lomita, Calif., put her body in the drum and cooked her.
Viens’ original story to police in 2009 was that Dawn had left him. After he was arrested last year, he admitted killing his wife to police, but has claimed it was an accident.
On Friday, Sept. 21, Viens became upset with his attorney. According to a report in the Internet newspaper Huff Post, Viens stood up from his wheelchair to object when his attorney, Fred McCurry, said he had no more case to present. He had told McCurry he would not testify in his own defense and when he asked if he could represent himself, he was told no.
David and Dawn Veins owned a home in Holmes Beach and operated the Beach City Market in Bradenton Beach from 2002-2005. In January 2005, police raided the Viens home and arrested David Viens on suspicion of possession of more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana within 1,000 feet of Anna Maria Elementary School, possession of opium, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm. His wife was not charged in that case, saying at the time her husband was just the middle man in a nationwide drug smuggling operation.
On April 25, 2005, the Florida state’s attorney dropped all charges against Viens after he turned state’s evidence.