David Viens, L.A. County Man Suspected of Killing Wife in 2009, Jumps Off Cliff After New Evidence Surfaces
Updated after the jump with the moments leading up to David Viens' attempted suicide.
If there was any doubt in detectives' minds that 43-year-old Lomita resident David Viens had a hand in the disappearance of his wife, Dawn Viens, back in October 2009, it's officially lost to the wind.
One day after a sprawling Daily Breeze expose revealed that sheriff's investigators had come across new evidence -- microscopic blood spatterings on the bedroom walls of the Viens' old home -- and dug up old dirt on David's original dodgy-as-hell reaction to his wife's vanishing, the panicked suspect jumped off an 80-foot cliff at the Point Vincente Light House at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday.
Luckily or unluckily, Viens survived the dive. Now, sheriff's Lieutenant Dave Coleman tells the Breeze that once Viens is able to leave the hospital, he'll be cuffed for the crime:
"Although he is in the hospital, he will be arrested for murder. Suicide shows some consciousness of guilt."
And the Tuesday newspaper piece was certainly enough to drive a guilty man's conscience into chaos. Reporter Larry Altman notes that Viens wouldn't show his face when approached at his restaurant, Thyme Contemporary Cafe, and that -- back when Dawn first vanished -- he never filed a missing-person report or contacted law enforcement.
He lived with his new girlfriend, Kathy Galvan, at the house he and his wife had shared (on the 25400 block of Oak Avenue) for a few months before moving out. That's when detectives were able to come in with a can of Luminol, which glows blue upon contact with even the tiniest trace of blood, and collect some samples.
That's where the chase began:
After identifying David Viens as a suspect, deputies began looking for him Wednesday, although Coleman said they did not plan to arrest him. Deputies found Viens in his 2003 Toyota 4Runner about 5 miles east of the center on Palos Verdes Drive South, Coleman said.
"We didn't know if he was going to commit suicide," Coleman said.
As deputies approached him, Viens sped away at high speed toward the Interpretive Center. He pulled into the parking area and stopped near a fence at the cliff's edge.
Viens got out of the sport utility vehicle along with his passenger, girlfriend Kathy Galvan, Coleman said.
The two struggled, and the deputies ordered the pair to separate. Galvan complied. Viens then broke away, jumped a chain-link fence and plunged to the shore below, Coleman said.
Viens is currently in an induced coma at the County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, after undergoing surgery for "internal injuries and broken bones." And he's no doubt in for a world more hurt once he wakes -- faced with an evidence-heavy murder trial and more reporters than even he's used to handling.
Update: The sheriff's department has released this detailed play-by-play of the events leading up to David Viens' shocking cliff jump:
Wednesday, [investigators] obtained information that his vehicle was at a location on Palos Verdes Drive West, Rancho Palos Verdes, and requested that Lomita Sheriff's Station deputies check on the vehicle.
When deputies arrived they observed the vehicle drive away and followed it to Point Vicente Light House where they observed Suspect Vien and a female in an altercation. Believing it was a domestic violence incident, deputies ordered Viens and the woman to stop.
Viens released the woman, ran and jumped off a cliff.
Sounds like Kathy Galvan could have been well on her way to becoming the next Dawn Viens, if the true hero of this story hadn't swooped in for the investigative save: that sweet, sweet can of Luminol.
Originally posted at 9:15 a.m.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.
- Angelenos Have a Credit Card Problem
Wed., Aug. 5, 12:35pm
Wed., Aug. 5, 12:35pm
Fri., Aug. 7, 7:05pm
Fri., Aug. 7, 7:05pm
- Get Ready for Wet Hot Weather
- Rejoice! Gas Prices Are Finally Coming Down