David Viens, LA chef, admits in recorded interview that he slow-cooked wife's body for days

David and Dawn Viens
CBS Los Angeles/Lomita Police Dept.
David and Dawn Viens
CBS Los Angeles/Lomita Police Dept.

(CBS/AP) LOS ANGELES - A chef on trial Tuesday for his wife's murder told sheriff's investigators that they couldn't find his wife's body because he had cooked it for four days in boiling water until little was left but her skull.

David Viens was on trial Tuesday for the murder of his 39-year-old wife, Dawn, who disappeared in late 2009. Los Angeles Superior Court jurors heard Viens make the statements in a recorded interview that was played in court during his murder trial. Viens has pleaded not guilty to killing his wife.

"I just slowly cooked it and I ended up cooking her for four days," Viens said in the recording, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Viens gave detectives the interview as he lay in a hospital bed in March 2011 from jumping off an 80-foot cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes. He made the leap when he learned he was a suspect in his wife's disappearance, whose body was never found. His injuries have him attending his trial in a wheelchair.

Viens said in the interview that he stuffed his wife's body in a 55-gallon drum of boiling water and kept it submerged with weights. He said he mixed what remained after four days with other waste, dumping some of it in a grease pit at his restaurant in Lomita, and putting the rest in the trash.

He said the only significant thing left was his wife's skull, which he stashed in his mother's attic at her home in Torrance. Authorities scoured his mother's house and his restaurant but found nothing.

On the recording played in court, sheriff's Sgt. Richard Garcia asked Viens what happened on Oct. 18, 2009, the night his wife disappeared.

"For some reason I just got violent," he said.

Complete coverage of Dawn Viens on Crimesider