RANCHO PALOS VERDES (AP) — Hours after reading a newspaper report that he is a suspect in his wife’s disappearance and likely homicide, a 47-year-old man leapt off a Southern California cliff.

David Viens was in critical condition Wednesday and will be charged with murder if he lives, sheriff’s Lt. Dave Coleman said.

Viens, whose wife has been missing for 16 months and presumed dead, evaded deputies and plunged 80 feet down an embankment in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Breeze reported investigators found blood spatter on the walls inside the couple’s former home in Lomita.

Dawn Viens hasn’t been seen since Oct. 18, 2009. Investigators said her husband never reported her missing.

Sheriff’s deputies went looking for David Viens after he was identified as a suspect, though Coleman said they did not plan to arrest him. When deputies found Viens in his sport utility vehicle, he led them on a chase that ended when he pulled into a parking area near the edge of the cliff.

Viens got out of the vehicle along with his passenger, girlfriend Kathy Galvin, Coleman said. The two struggled, and the deputies ordered the pair to separate. Coleman said Viens then broke away, hopped a chain-link fence and jumped off the cliff.

Viens was still alive when rescuers reached him. He was airlifted to a hospital.

“Although he is in the hospital, he will be arrested for murder,” Coleman told the Daily Breeze. “Suicide shows some consciousness of guilt.”

David Viens told friends 16 months ago that his wife took a Louis Vuitton bag and walked away when he demanded she go to drug rehabilitation.

She did not take her car or money she had stashed with a friend.

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