While her malleable, ex-fiancé awaited trial for murdering two Costa Mesa college students and cops pondered if she’d choreographed the crimes, Rachel Buffett—a onetime Disneyland princess obsessed with penis sizes, Jesus and kleptomania—allegedly made a spontaneous confession, according to a new Sleuth podcast.
This story begins, yes, in a bar several years after the May 2010, handgun killings of Coast Community College students Sam Herr, 26, and Julie Kibuishi, 23. While Daniel Wozniak, her ditched lover, sat in a jail worried he’d land on San Quentin State Prison’s death row, Buffett—who’d so far avoided criminal charges—enjoyed herself. She drank enthusiastically and sang karaoke with new boyfriend, Scott Ehredt.
(Buffett, a struggling actress who appeared on the Dr. Phil show to proclaim innocence in the murders, apparently has a taste for men who excel at make-believe. Wozniak played leading-man roles in low-budget, community-theater productions. For years, Ehredt played the king in shows at Medieval Times, near Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park. Was his appearance on Murder, She Wrote uncanny foreshadowing?)
During his must-hear interview with investigative journalist and Sleuth host Linda Sawyer, gravel-voiced Ehredt—who began his Buffett-fling without knowing her ties to the double murder—recalled having fun during the bar trip until she became “incoherent” from booze. She’d placed her head in his lap and fallen asleep as he drove northeast on highways from the Long Beach/Orange County area to his home. At some point, Buffett started mumbling.
“So, I’m driving,” Ehredt recounts. “She reaches up with her fist, and she smacks me really hard in the chest and says, ‘I told you to burn the body.’”
Using a ruse to steal money, a broke Wozniak had lured a better-off Herr, his neighbor and friend, to a community theater at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base. There, he shot the former combat soldier twice from behind, dismembered the corpse and scattered body parts (which were quickly found) in a Long Beach public park. The insane motive? To pay for an upcoming honeymoon cruise he planned with Buffett.
When Ehredt told Sawyer about what he heard in his vehicle, she advised her listeners that days before the killing, Wozniak and Buffett visited the future crime scene. Sawyer also knows what was housed near the theater: the military installation’s incinerator, a spot where body parts of returning fallen soldiers have been cremated. Wozniak toured the facility before executing Herr.
Back in the vehicle following Buffett’s outburst, Ehredt said to himself, “What the hell?” before prodding her to repeat what she’d said. But she was silent. “She’s out,” he tells the audience.
Had her words been an inadvertent confession or gibberish?
After breakfast the next morning, Ehredt asked Buffett if she remembered what she’d uttered. She first said she didn’t. He followed up, “Well, you hit me, and you said, ‘I told you to burn the body.’”
Flip-flopping, Buffett said, “I did not say that.”
Ehredt says he responded, “Well, yeah, you did.”
She allegedly replied, “No, I said you should have burned the body.”
A spooked Ehredt asked, “Did you think I was Dan last night?”
Buffett—who was home-schooled in an ultra-religious family—answered, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
According to Sleuth assertions based on a series of in-depth interviews, Buffett does like talking about Jesus and erections when she’s not seeking cheap thrills by shoplifting. After Wozniak’s arrest, she complained to cops about his underwhelming bedroom prowess without a pending related question. And Ehredt told Sawyer that Buffett also oddly lamented her brother’s equipment.
(If interested, listen to the interview for more details.)
The Orange County district attorney’s office declined to prosecute Buffett for murder, but last month won guilty verdicts on accessory-after-the-fact charges for lies she told during the police investigation.
It’s the theory of Scott Sanders, the assistant public defender who represented Wozniak, that law-enforcement officials downplayed her role to strengthen their chances of putting his client on San Quentin State Prison’s condemned row, which is what happened in early 2016.
Prosecutor Matt Murphy, who made charging decisions in the case, denies that motivation.
Murphy, who believes his reputation has been unfairly impugned, has refused repeated invitations to answer questions on Sleuth.
At her scheduled Nov. 8 sentencing hearing, Buffett faces a potential 44-month prison term. She insists she is innocent of any wrongdoing and is, like Herr and Kibuishi, an innocent victim.
Murphy accused Wozniak of luring Kibuishi to Herr’s bedroom in the Camden Martinique apartments and murdering her to stage a decoy explanation for the dead man’s disappearance.
To hear iHeartRadio’s ongoing Sleuth podcast series, go HERE.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; earned six dozen other reporting awards; and been hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.