VISTA (CNS) - An Oceanside man died of cancer while in custody awaiting a preliminary hearing on charges of killing his wife and dismembering her body in their home, a spokesman for the District Attorney's Office confirmed Friday.
Frederick Hengl, 69, was charged with murder, cruelty to an elder and committing an unlawful act with human remains in the death of his spouse of 34 years, Anna Faris. The 73-year-old woman was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease at the time of her death last year.
Hengl's preliminary was postponed earlier this year so he could receive continuous medical treatment for cancer, said district attorney's spokesman Steve Walker. The exact date of his death was unclear.
Hengl's attorney, Debby Kirkwood, said previously that her client became very sick and lost his will to live after the death of his "bride." The attorney said Hengl quit his job in February 2012 to take care of Faris full-time.
At Hengl's arraignment last fall, Deputy District Attorney Kate Flaherty said police went to the couple's home on North Ditmar Street last Nov. 16 after neighbors complained of a powerful foul odor coming from the residence.
Officers at the scene saw what they thought was meat cooking on the stove, Flaherty said.
After contacting Hengl at a nearby bar, officers realized that he was in the process of dismembering his wife's body, the prosecutor said.
Officers found Faris' head in the freezer wrapped in a bag, according to Flaherty.
In the bathroom, officers found what appeared to be a work area, with a saw and boning knife and other cutting instruments, the prosecutor said.
A bag with pieces of bone that had been freshly cut was also found in the home, according to Flaherty.
Neighbors said they had not seen the victim in about a month and heard what sounded like a power saw coming from the residence in early November.
Kirkwood has said that Hengl would claim that he didn't kill his wife -- that she died of natural causes.