Woman accused of cutting off husband's penis held on $1 million bail
Catherine Kieu Becker was arrested by Garden Grove police on suspicion of aggravated mayhem, false imprisonment, assault with a deadly weapon, administering a drug with intent to commit a felony, poisoning and spousal abuse.
If she's convicted on the mayhem charge, she faces up to a life sentence with the possibility of parole.
She was being held at the Orange County Jail and was expected to appear in court in the coming days.
The couple had been married for a year and half. Court records show they began divorce proceedings in May. The record suggests that the husband initiated the divorce.
Lt. Jeff Nightengale of the Garden Grove Police Department said police were aware of the divorce case but didn't have a clear motive for the crime.
"On the surface, we have nothing more than the divorce proceeding," Nightengale said. "We don't have any strong motive leading to this level of violence."
Officers arrived at a home on the 14000 block of Flower Street after the woman called 911 about 9 p.m. Monday and found a man tied to a bed and bleeding from his crotch, according to a Garden Grove police news release.
Becker, 48, told police she had drugged her husband’s dinner to make him sleepy, then tied him to the bed.
As he awoke, she cut off his penis with a knife, tossed it in the garbage disposal and turned the disposal on.
Police untied the victim, who was taken UCI Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery.
Police said Becker and her husband, 51, were going through a divorce and that she told officers he “deserved it.”
The severe nature of the crime led detectives to classify it as “aggravated mayhem,” an offense punishable by up to life in prison, Nightengale said.
“You're not just depriving a person of a member or portion of their body or disfiguring them,” he said, “you're doing something that's so egregious we're not sure what's going to happen: if they're going to be able to reattach this or repair this person after such a violent attack.
“The intention by this person was to permanently deprive this victim of his genitalia,” Nightengale added.
The victim, who was not identified, told detectives Becker made him dinner, but he believed something was wrong with his food. He went to lie down and woke up to find himself tied to the bed, with his wife tugging his clothes off, he said, and then cut off his penis.
The victim went into surgery before detectives could get further details.
Investigators searched the home and recovered a rope and a knife.
-- Andrew Blankstein and Tony Barboza
Photo: Catherine Kieu Becker. Credit: Garden Grove Police Department, KTLA -TV