Ex-fiancée of Orange County killer Wozniak is sentenced as accessory

In this Dec. 9, 2015 photo, Daniel Wozniak sits in court as opening statements begin in his murder trial in Santa Ana, Calif.
In this Dec. 9, 2015 photo, Daniel Wozniak sits in court as opening statements begin in his murder trial in Santa Ana, Calif.
(Joshua Sudock / Pool)

The former fiancée of convicted murderer Daniel Wozniak was sentenced Thursday to 32 months in jail for being an accessory after the fact in two slayings he committed in 2010.

Rachel Buffett was accused of lying to and misleading investigators about what Wozniak had done and what she knew. Authorities said he confessed to both killings after he called her from jail.

Buffett received a sentence of two years on the first count and eight months on the second. She will receive credit for time already served and for good conduct. The last six months of her sentence will be served on probation.

Buffett is expected to serve between one and two years in Orange County Jail, said Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy.


At Buffett’s sentencing hearing in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, Judge Sheila Hanson heard statements from the parents of Wozniak’s victims, Sam Herr, 26, of Costa Mesa and Juri “Julie” Kibuishi, 23, of Irvine, as well as a statement from Buffett.

“Rachel Buffett lied to the police, she lied to her friends, she lied to the local and national newspapers and she lied to the nation when she appeared on national television, on the Dr. Phil show and ‘Dateline,’ proclaiming her innocence,” said Herr’s father, Steve.

Steve Herr implored the judge to levy the maximum sentence under California law, which is 44 months.

“Rachel knew exactly what she was doing. She could have saved us eight years and six months of grief,” Herr said.


“Our child didn’t have to be taken away,” said Kibuishi’s mother, June. “She had so much she wanted to accomplish.”

“All these years, have you shown remorse?” June Kibuishi said to Buffett. “No, none.”

Buffett read a statement saying, “I’ve always wanted to express my condolences to the Herr and Kibuishi family,” adding that she didn’t extend her sympathy earlier because she didn’t believe they would want to hear from her.

“I hope my silence hasn’t been interpreted as callous,” Buffett said. “I wish Sam and Julie were still here. I wish I had never met Daniel Wozniak.”


Hanson said she took into consideration that, while Buffett had no previous arrests, she also never acknowledged lying to investigators.

“I’m struck by feeling that you have never appreciated the gravity of the crimes that you committed,” Hanson said.

“You lied,” she said, adding that the evidence “leads the court to believe you planned those statements” to investigators.

Wozniak, a community theater actor from Costa Mesa, was found guilty in December 2015 of murdering Sam Herr and Julie Kibuishi in May 2010.


Prosecutors said Wozniak was desperate for cash to cover rent and his upcoming wedding, so he hatched a plan to kill Herr and access the bank account in which Herr had saved thousands of dollars from his Army service.

After shooting Herr in the attic of a Los Alamitos theater before a scheduled show, Wozniak used Herr’s phone to lure Kibuishi to Herr’s apartment, where Wozniak shot her twice in the head, authorities said.

After performing in a play, Wozniak dismembered Herr’s body so he could hide the pieces at El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach, prosecutors said. He then staged Kibuishi’s body to appear that Herr had lured her to his apartment and raped her before fleeing.

Police arrested Wozniak at his bachelor party days after the killings, after ATM withdrawals from Herr’s bank account led them to him.


Sclafani writes for Times Community News.