Family says woman did not help murder suspect

Relatives of a woman accused of helping her former fiancé after he allegedly killed two people say they are certain of her innocence.

Rachel Mae Buffett, 25, of Long Beach, stands accused of being an accessory to murder after the fact. Her former boyfriend allegedly killed his Costa Mesa neighbor and the victim's tutor.

Buffett's mother and siblings visited Orange County Jail on Friday for a court proceeding that was postponed but told the Daily Pilot that she was not involved in the 2010 double homicide.

"If you've known Rachel for any length of time, you'd know it too," said Nathan Buffett, her brother.

Police arrested Rachel Buffett outside of Bed Bath & Beyond at Huntington Beach's Bella Terra shopping center Nov. 21, the day before Thanksgiving.

"It was harder to find reasons to be thankful," Nathan Buffett said.

Rachel Buffett faces three felony charges of accessory after the fact for her alleged involvement following the murders of Samuel Herr, 26, of Costa Mesa, and Juri "Julie" Kibuishi, 23, of Irvine, in May 2010.

Rachel Buffett's family members said they believe Costa Mesa police arrested her because of the high-profile nature of the case. Her former fiance, Daniel Patrick Wozniak, 28, faces the death penalty on two felony charges of murder.

Wozniak allegedly lured Herr to the military base in Los Alamitos, shot him and then hid dismembered parts of his corpse in a Long Beach park. He then allegedly texted Kibuishi to lure her Herr's apartment, killed her and then staged her body as if Herr had sexually assaulted her.

"Because this is a big case, they're trying to prolong this," Nathan Buffett said.

Prosecutors allege Buffett lied to police on numerous occasions, "propagating the false story that Wozniak told police about Herr having problems with his family," according to a statement from the Orange County district attorney's office.

Buffett's arraignment was delayed until Monday, when she is expected to appear in Central Justice Center. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of three years and eight months in prison. She is being held on $100,000 bail.

During her 10-day incarceration, Buffett's family said she has nearly finished reading The Bible.

"She's confused why she's even there," Nathan Buffett said.

Rachel Buffett appeared for Friday's arraignment before the court visitors on a TV screen, her hands in the pockets of a navy-colored jail jumpsuit, looking straight ahead. At one point she glanced directly at the screen, where she could see her family in the courtroom. Buffett did not enter a plea and her arraignment was delayed.

After her arrest, her family and friends started an online campaign that professes her innocence. Several people changed their Facebook profile picture in support of the campaign, using an image reading, "Free Rachel Buffett! She is 100% innocent!" that also cites Scripture.

There is a "Rachel Buffett is Innocent" page on Facebook, and the family apparently released a statement about Buffett's arrest on a blog.

Her brother emphasized that Rachel Buffett has had almost no recent contact with Wozniak and said there has been a "complete separation."

Immediately after Wozniak's arrest, Rachel Buffett visited him twice in jail and received a heavily redacted letter from him, to which she didn't reply, Nathan Buffett said.

"She was in shock for months" after Wozniak's arrest, said her sister Hannah Buffett.

Wozniak is back in court for a series of motions Dec. 14.

Twitter: @lawilliams30

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World