David Viens, 43, awakened from a coma and was alert today following surgery to repair massive internal injuries and broken bones. He had long been a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife, Dawn, and now enough evidence has been developed following his jump to charge him with her murder, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Dave Coleman told AOL News.
"We intend to talk to him in the hospital," Coleman said. "He has carried a tremendous amount of guilt for some time because he knows he killed her. He will be arrested and charged with Dawn's murder."
Viens underwent surgery Thursday night for broken bones and another surgery is planned for the weekend. The case will be presented to the District Attorney's Office next week. Viens is still in the intensive care unit and breathing through a respirator, so detectives are waiting until he can talk before making a visit.
Sheriff's detectives received information Wednesday that Viens was driving near the rugged coastline and feared that he may be contemplating suicide, so a patrol car was dispatched. When deputies spotted Viens' car, he sped off to the parking lot of a lighthouse, where he jumped out along with a woman later identified as his live-in girlfriend, Kathy Galvan. The pair began grappling with each other and deputies intervened, thinking they were dealing with a domestic violence situation.
Viens then broke free and leaped off the cliff to the beach below, Coleman said. He was rescued by helicopter and taken to a hospital.
After the jump, detectives talked to Galvan, who was cooperative.
"He had made a prior statement that he was going to take his own life and when he saw the black and white [patrol car], he panicked, saying: 'They're going to get me, I'm going to prison,' " sheriff's Sgt. Richard Garcia told AOL News.
Other evidence includes blood spatter found in a bedroom and another room of Viens' home. The house was searched and processed with Luminol, a chemical that detects blood traces at crime scenes, in November after he moved out. DNA confirmed that the blood belonged to Dawn Viens, Garcia said.
A local newspaper reported the blood spatter earlier in the week, around the time when detectives began distributing fliers asking for public assistance in the case because it had been upgraded from a missing person to a homicide.
These two events probably spurred Viens' suicide attempt, Coleman said. Detectives say they have figured out how Dawn Viens died but still have no clue where the body is located. They are hoping someone will come forward with information.
Dawn Viens, 37, disappeared on Oct. 18, 2009, after walking away from the couple's restaurant, Thyme Contemporary Cafe, in Lomita, Calif. Her husband said they had had an argument.
She didn't take her cell phone or cash that she had stashed away, and her car was later towed as evidence when she didn't return.
Then Galvan took over Dawn Viens' job as a hostess at the restaurant and moved into her home. Soon after, Viens was seen throwing his wife's belongings into a trash bin behind his restaurant, Coleman said.
"I loved my wife, I miss her," he said. "I want to put up a cash reward, but I'm broke." He said she had a history of disappearing and was hoping she would "check in" after the ski season ended.
"I have nothing to hide," he said.
In 2005, Viens was arrested in Florida in a drug trafficking case, the newspaper reported. Dawn described him at the time to police as a "middle dealer" and said they enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle "due to the dealing."