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Heavy machinery to aid search for missing woman believed buried beneath Lomita restaurant

March 2, 2011 | 11:10 am

An official with the Los Angeles County Coroner takes a break from digging up the patio floor of Thyme Contemporary Cafe on Tuesday.

L.A. County sheriff's detectives planned to bring in heavy excavation equipment and a fire crew Wednesday to aid their search for the remains of a Lomita restaurant owner's missing wife believed buried beneath the building.

Sheriff's and coroner's investigators dug under the Thyme Contemporary Cafe for a second day Wednesday in search of the body of Dawn Viens, who authorities believe was killed 16 months ago by her husband, restaurateur David Viens.

He was arrested in a hospital and charged with suspicion of murder after jumping last week from a Rancho Palos Verdes cliff as police chased him. Lt. David Coleman of the sheriff's department said he believed Viens' jump was a suicide attempt.

Investigators continued to cut away at the building's floor and foundation, where they suspect Dawn Viens may be entombed.

"We are bringing in a fire crew and heavy exavacuation equipment.... We want to determine if this is where the victim's body is concealed," Coleman said. "We won't stop digging until we have eliminated the location."

Coleman said David Viens remodeled the restaurant after his wife's disappearance in October 2009 and laid new concrete.

"For several days the windows were covered and restaurant closed for refurbishment," Coleman said.

He said investigators had gathered information leading them to believe the woman may be buried at the site.

"David Viens' attempted suicide forced us to push the investigation forward and begin the search," Coleman said.


Digging resumes at restaurant where police believe missing woman is buried

Wife likely buried beneath husband's restaurant, detectives say

Lomita man who jumped off cliff is booked on suspicion of murder in wife's disappearance

-- Richard Winton

Photo: An official with the Los Angeles County coroner's office takes a break from digging up the patio floor of Thyme Contemporary Cafe on Tuesday. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times