SAN DIEGO — An Oceanside man accused of killing his wife and dismembering her body at their home succumbed to prostate cancer while in custody awaiting trial, authorities disclosed Friday.
Frederick Hengl, 69, died in a medical unit at the downtown San Diego Central Jail last Friday night, according to prosecutors and the county Medical Examiner’s Office.
At the time of his death, Hengl was facing charges of murder, cruelty to an elder and committing an unlawful act with human remains in connection with the death of his spouse of 34 years, Anna Faris.
Hengl’s preliminary hearing in the case had been postponed earlier this year so he could receive continuous medical treatment, according to Steve Walker, spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office.
Hengl’s attorney, Debby Kirkwood, has said her client became very sick and lost his will to live after the death of his “bride,” who was in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease when she died at age 73 last year. Hengl had quit his job in February 2012 to take care of Faris full-time, Kirkwood said.
At Hengl’s arraignment last fall, prosecutor Kate Flaherty said police went to the couple’s home on North Ditmar Street last Nov. 16 after neighbors complained of a powerful stench emanating from the residence. Inside the house, officers saw what they thought was meat cooking on the stove, she said.
After contacting Hengl at a nearby bar, officers realized that he was in the process of dismembering his wife’s body, according to Flaherty.
Authorities found Faris’ head in a bag in the couple’s freezer, and in a bathroom discovered what appeared to be a makeshift work area, with a saw and boning knife and other cutting instruments, the prosecutor said. A sack with pieces of bone that had been freshly cut also was found in the home.
Neighbors said they had not seen the victim in about a month and had heard what sounded like a power saw coming from the residence.
Hengl denied killing his wife, saying she died of natural causes, Kirkwood said.