Murder suspect arrested at his bachelor party

HB Independent

Though his arraignment was delayed Tuesday, new details emerged about a Costa Mesa man accused of killing, decapitating and dismembering his neighbor and then shooting a friend of the victim to throw police off his tracks.

Daniel Wozniak — who overnight went from a lead actor for a community playhouse planning to marry co-star Rachel Buffett to double-murder suspect after his arrest in Huntington Beach — faces life without parole if convicted of killing neighbor Samuel Herr, 26, and Herr's friend Juri "Julie" Kibuishi, 23. He is scheduled to be arraigned June 25 in Santa Ana's Central Justice Center.

Prosecutors said Wozniak, 26, and Herr went to the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base on May 21 under the pretense of moving some theater equipment at the playhouse there when Wozniak shot and dismembered Herr, then stole his ATM card.

Herr, an Army veteran Orange Coast College student who was hoping to reenlist and become an officer, was back from overseas less than a year and had money saved up from the service.

Wozniak lived three floors below Herr in the Camden Martinique apartment complex, which is across from the college.

After allegedly killing Herr, Wozniak allegedly cut off Herr's head, left arm and right hand and discarded them at El Dorado Park in Long Beach, said Costa Mesa Police Sgt. Ed Everett.

Police found Herr's head Saturday in the park. It appeared animals had moved it from the other remains, Costa Mesa Police Lt. Mark Manley said Saturday.

Wozniak allegedly lured Kibuishi to Herr's apartment by using Herr's cell phone to text message Kibuishi, police said. Wozniak said in a text to Kibuishi that he was having family problems and wanted to talk, so she obliged and went to his apartment, said brother Takahiro Kibuishi.

Police said that when Julie Kibuishi arrived, Wozniak shot her early in the morning of May 22, removed some of her clothes and staged the scene to look like a sexual assault and murder.

The discovery of Kibuishi's body in Herr's apartment would prove to distract officers' investigation for a few days.

"She was the sweetest, most loving individual. She's always there for everybody," Takahiro Kibuishi said of his late sister, who lived in Irvine. "Unfortunately, that's what happened in this circumstance as well."

She was one of four children, with a younger sister and two older brothers.

Because police couldn't find Herr, he was the initial suspect.

However, when a 17-year-old boy started emptying out Herr's accounts through his ATM card, police soon traced it to Wozniak, who was arrested May 26 at his bachelor party in Huntington Beach, prosecutors said.

Police detained the boy and later released him, saying he did not appear to know of the killings. Prosecutors said they will not charge him.

Wozniak had planned to get married Friday — a week after the first slaying.

Police said Wozniak attempted suicide Thursday, was hospitalized and has since been returned to Orange County Jail.

Kibuishi's family has planned a private memorial service. Details on a service for Herr have not been determined, relatives said.

Wozniak performed with the Hunger Artists Theatre Company in Fullerton. The company issued this statement on its website:

"We at Hunger Artists are horrified and saddened by the deaths of Juri Kibuishi and Samuel Eliezer Herr. Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to their friends and families in this tragic time."

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