Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Accused Chef Confessed to Slow Cooking Wife’s Remains

Dawn Viens and David Viens (inset)

Dawn Viens and David Viens (inset)

Chef David Viens is on trial in California for the murder of his wife Dawn, who disappeared on October 18, 2009. Police have repeatedly searched for her remains, even digging up the site at the Viens’ Thyme Café, the restaurant he co-owned with Dawn at the time, but came up empty. On September 18, 2912, prosecutors played what appeared to be a taped confession by Viens for the murder of his wife, in which he explains that they were having a fight, that he bound his wife’s hands and feet, covered her mouth with duct tape, and went to sleep for four hours. He said that he was shocked to find her dead the next morning. So he used his skills as a chef to hide the murder, stuffing her 105-pound body into a vat where he slow cooked her until the remains were no longer recognizable, “I took some, some things like weights that we use and I put them on the top of her body, and I just slowly cooked it and I ended up cooking her for four days.”Viens then disposed of her as rendered fat, “I came up with the idea of cleaning the grease traps and commingling in the, the excess, the excess protein.”

Vien’s method of disposal explains why police never found any trace of his wife’s remains. These days rendered grease is often separated. If Viens poured her liquified remains in with the brown waste animal fat it probably wound up as pet food, or in a landfill, and if he put it in with the yellow grease, or waste vegetable oil, it was probably collected and recycled. Though Viens told detectives that he hid her skull and jawbone in his mother’s attic, searchers never found it.

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