Daniel Wozniak (murderer)
Daniel Patrick Wozniak (born March 23, 1984) is a convicted double-murderer on California's Death Row. In May 2010, Wozniak murdered two people as part of a plan to steal money from one of the victims. The money was going to be used to pay for his upcoming wedding and honeymoon. Wozniak murdered his neighbor and friend, PFC Samuel Eliezer Herr, 26, an OEF Army Veteran of the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, and Herr's college friend, Juri "Julie" Kibuishi, 23.
At the time of the murders, Wozniak was deep in debt and was also facing eviction from his apartment which he shared with his fiancée Rachel Mae Buffett. Wozniak and Herr lived in the same apartment complex in Costa Mesa, California.
Crimes and cover-upEdit
Wozniak shot and killed his neighbor, Samuel ("Sam") Herr, 26, on May 21, 2010, at a Los Alamitos theater. Wozniak was in debt, facing eviction, needed to finance his upcoming wedding and honeymoon, and planned to steal Herr's savings.
Seeking to misdirect police, Wozniak then used Herr's cell phone to text Juri "Julie" Kibuishi, 23, who had been tutoring Herr in community college. He lured Kibuishi to Herr's apartment where he shot and killed her. Wozniak then staged the crime scene to make it appear as though Julie had been sexually assaulted, suggesting that Herr had committed the murder and then gone on the run.
The same evening, he went on to perform in his local theatre production. Afterwards, Wozniak dismembered victim Sam Herr by removing his limbs and head.
An enormous manhunt for Sam Herr was launched by authorities who wrongly believed Herr was responsible for Julie's murder and was on the run.
Wozniak came under suspicion after he instructed a sixteen-year-old to withdraw money from Herr's accounts. When the police confronted the boy, they were told by the boy that Wozniak had asked him to withdraw the money for him. Soon after, Wozniak was apprehended at his bachelor party two days before his wedding.
After repeatedly lying to police, Wozniak finally confessed. Wozniak led authorities to Herr's body where it was found buried at El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach. After more than five years of court proceedings, Wozniak went to trial and was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to capital punishment (death) in September 2016.
More than a year later, in November 2012, Wozniak's then-fiancée, Rachel Mae Buffett, was arrested and charged with three felony counts of accessory-after-the-fact based on allegations that she had lied multiple times to police investigators. On September 12, 2018, Buffett was convicted on two of those counts with a maximum possible sentence of 44 months and, on November 8, 2018, was sentenced to 32 months, with probation, time served, and good conduct, Buffett expected to serve between one and two years in the Orange County Jail.
In popular cultureEdit
The case has been covered by numerous crime and news programs in the United States, including:
- Dr. Phil ("Actress Accused: Was She an Accessory to Murder?", first aired February 5, 2013). During the show, Samuel's father, Steve Herr, showed resentment toward Rachel Buffett, Wozniak's then-fianceé, and her claims of not knowing anything about the murders. Buffett was charged in 2012 as an accessory-after-the-fact in the murders.
- Lockup (MSNBC, "Lockup Orange County: Extended Stay: Unholy Trinity"). The episode was filmed in the Orange County Jail and featured an interview with Wozniak as he proclaimed his innocence. The episode outraged the relatives of Wozniak's victims, who said he charmed the camera and proclaimed his devotion to the Bible and the two people he killed.
- Dateline NBC ("Plot Twist", first aired January 15, 2016; "Final Curtain," first aired November 30, 2018; "Plot Twist" repackaged and shown on Dateline: Secrets Uncovered, a part of Oxygen, aired July 5, 2019). Buffett was interviewed by reporter Josh Mankiewicz about her part in the murder investigation.
- 20/20 (ABC, "Mystery in Apartment 410" first aired March 4, 2016). Reported on the May 2010 murders.
- Crime Watch Daily (first aired June 8, 2016): Profiled the case.
- The Perfect Murder (Investigation Discovery, "Curtain Call," first aired August 24, 2016). Reported on the case.
- CBS' 48 Hours ("Killer Performance," first aired October 9, 2016). Correspondent Tracy Smith interviewed friends and family members of the victims, as well as the case prosecutor and other public officials.
- Unusual Suspects: Deadly Intent (Investigation Discovery, "Final Curtain," first aired November 1, 2017). Reported on the case and depicted Wozniak as an unassuming killer.
- My Favorite Murder ("Live at The Grove in Anaheim," first aired November 2, 2017). Karen Kilgariff tells the story of "killer Daniel Wozniak."
- In Ice Cold Blood (Oxygen, "Closing Night"). Profile of the case.
- 20/20 (ABC, "The Final Act" first aired May 31, 2019).
- Associated Press. "Actor decapitated neighbor, performed in musical soon after". nypost.com. NYP HOLDINGS, INC. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
- BERG, TOM (7 December 2015). "Justice delayed: Why it took more than 5 years for trial of Daniel Wozniak, accused of killing 2, beheading one victim". Orange County Register. Southern California News Group. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
- Andrews, Travis M. (26 September 2016). "Community theater actor sentenced to death for killing, dismembering Afghanistan vet to pay for wedding". Washington Post. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
- DALTON, REX (31 October 2016). "Local Figures Loom Large in Death Penalty Ballot Measure | Voice of OC". voiceofoc.org. Voice of OC. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
- Dobruck, Jeremiah (4 January 2016). "Father describes horror of his dismembered son's murder". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
- Katz, Michele (18 December 2015). "Actor decapitates Army combat vet and kills vet's girlfriend". Military News. Bright Mountain Media, Inc. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
- Christine Pelisek (13 March 2015). "Daniel Wozniak Murders: Killer Had a Larger-Than-Life Personality, Friends Say". People.
- Hannah Fry (23 September 2016). "Ex-actor Daniel Wozniak sentenced to death in double murder and grisly cover-up". Los Angeles Times.
- EMERY, SEAN (22 November 2012). "Actor's ex-fiancée arrested in killings, dismemberment". Staff. The Orange County Register. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
- Coker, Matt (23 December 2016). "Brother of Death Row Double Murderer Dan Wozniak Held for Domestic Violence". OC Weekly. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
- "Ex-Disney Princess Lied to Police Hoping to Help Actor Fiancé Get Away with Double-Murder". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
- Sclafani, Julia. "Ex-fiancée of Orange County killer Wozniak is sentenced as accessory". latimes.com. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
- Puente, Kelly (17 March 2017). "Trial date set for convicted killer Daniel Wozniak's ex-fiancee Rachel Buffett – Orange County Register". SANTA ANA, CA.: Southern California News Group. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
- "Actress Accused: Was She an Accessory to Murder? | Dr. Phil". drphil.com. CBS Broadcasting. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
- "Dr. Phil | Actress Accused: Was She an Accessory to Murder?". TVGuide.com. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
- "Lockup: Orange County---Extended Stay". TVGuide.com. CBS Interactive Inc. 26 March 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
- Austin, Paige (2 September 2011). "Controversial Show Starring Accused Los Alamitos Killer to Air". Los Alamitos-Seal Beach, CA Patch. Patch Media. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
- "NBC Dateline | FULL EPISODE: Plot Twist". NBC News. 15 January 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
- Reyes, Traciy (16 January 2016). "Daniel Wozniak, Rachel Buffett: 'Dateline' NBC Follows Plot Twists Of Actor In Bizarre Costa Mesa, California Murder Case". The Inquisitr. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
- "Dateline: Secrets Uncovered season 7 episode 10 ("Plot Twist")". simkl.com. Simkl TV Tracker /simkl.org. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
- "20/20: 'Mystery in Apartment 410' Watch Full Episode". ABC. 4 March 2016. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
- "Daniel Wozniak case: Full story of California double murder investigated on '20/20′". The Mercury News. 19 August 2016.
- LaLama, Pat (8 June 2016). "Community actor kills veteran, student for money to bankroll honeymoon". Crime Watch Daily. Telepictures Productions Inc. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
- "The Perfect Murder | Watch Full Episodes & More! - Investigation Discovery". www.investigationdiscovery.com. 24 August 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
- Reyes, Traciy (24 August 2016). "Sam Herr, Juri 'Julie' Kibuishi: 'The Perfect Murder' On Investigation Discovery — Afghanistan War Vet, California Tutor Killed By Actor In Plot To Have Lavish Wedding". The Inquisitr. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
- "48 Hours | Killer Performance". CBS Interactive Inc. 9 October 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
- "48 Hours-Killer Performance - Video Dailymotion". Dailymotion. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
- "Unusual Suspects: Deadly Intent | Watch Full Episodes & More! - Investigation Discovery". 1 November 2017. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
- FM, Player. "93 - Live At The Grove In Anaheim My Favorite Murder With Karen Kilgariff And Georgia Hardstark podcast". player.fm. Retrieved 2019-02-18.
- "20/20: 'The Final Act' Watch Full Episode". ABC. 31 May 2019. Retrieved 31 May 2019.