Like many married couples, the Vienses had their ups and downs. To those who knew them personally, it didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.
David Viens was a chef who owned his own restaurant, the Thyme Cafe, and his wife Dawn worked as a waitress. In 2009 the restaurant underwent renovations and during that time Dawn supported them financially. David would spend long hours at the restaurant working on the renovations. These long hours, combined with the financial strains of living on a single income, and the couple’s drinking and drug use put a strain on their relationship.
In August of 2009 a friend of Dawn’s noticed red marks on her neck. She asked Dawn where the marks came from. Dawn confessed that David had strangled her and also mentioned several other times he had hurt her. Dawn forgave David, excusing the behavior as him lashing out from the stress of restaurant renovations. Like most abusers, it wouldn’t be the last time an argument escalated to violence.
When the restaurant reopened in October of 2009, Viens was fed up with Dawn’s drinking. As a hostess for the restaurant, Viens told friends that he was embarrassed by her behavior on the job. Dawn refused to get help for her drinking problem.
On the night of October 18, Dawn asked David to do cocaine with her. Viens agreed, but the drug only caused Viens to become more agitated. As he was balancing his books for the night he noticed that the receipts didn’t add up right and suspected that Dawn was stealing money from the restaurant. The couple got into a heated argument.
Viens said he “snapped,” and restrained Dawn’s arms, legs and mouth with duct tape because “he didn’t want her driving wasted, whacked out on coke and drinking.” According to Viens, she did not cry and he did not notice any blood. He took an ambien and went to bed for the night. The following morning he woke up to find Dawn dead. He took her body and placed it inside a closet.
Viens reported to work as usual that day. Coworkers say that he seemed distressed, but he was quiet for most of the day. Later, Viens removed Dawn’s body from the closet and placed her in the trunk of his car. He parked by the dumpsters at work that day, hoping he could throw her into the trash. Instead, Viens came up with a new plan.
Viens placed Dawn’s body into a 55 gallon drum and boiled it slowly, weighing it down to keep it from floating to the top. For four days she was cooked until she was nothing but bone broth. The only thing that didn’t manage to cook down was her skull, which Veins took and put into his mother’s attic. Viens then mixed the slurry of what was once his wife’s body with the sludge from the grease pit and disposed of it. Dawn’s remains were never found, including the skull Viens claimed he left at his mother’s home.
When Dawn was reported missing a month later, David told police that she had left him. Police became suspicious of Viens’ story when they found she had left behind her personal belongings, including her wallet. When Viens learned that he was a suspect in his wife’s murder he tried to commit suicide by leaping off a cliff. Viens survived and was arrested after the incident in March of 2011.
Viens made a full confession to accidentally killing his wife when she choked on her own vomit while she was duct taped, as well as his grisly method of disposal. In March of 2012 he was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for second degree murder.