Newly-released episode five of Sleuth, the iHeartRadio original true crime podcast about one of Orange County’s oddest double homicide cases, features more spine-chilling moments.
As Weekly readers know, theater actor Daniel Wozniak sits today on California’s death row for the 2010 killing, dismembering and burying of Sam Herr, his 26-year-old Costa Mesa neighbor, in an insane plot to raid the victim’s bank account as a way of paying for his planned honeymoon cruise.
Because that move apparently wasn’t diabolical enough, Wozniak then lured 23-year-old Julie Kibuishi to Herr’s apartment bedroom, shot her twice in the head, yanked off part of her clothing to create the appearance of a sexual assault gone wrong and stole Herr’s passport to make police believe he’d fled the country.
Earlier this month, prosecutors convicted Rachel Mae Buffett, Wozniak’s fiancée at the time of the murders, on accessory after the fact charges for lies she told police detectives. For example, Buffett—a former Disneyland princess who has claimed she is also an innocent victim in the case—falsely claimed the last person she’d seen with Herr had been a mysterious white male wearing a baseball cap. She faces a potential prison term of three years and eight months at a scheduled Nov. 8 sentencing hearing inside Orange County Superior Court.
In this latest installment of Linda Sawyer’s Sleuth, we hear professional actors give voice to actual dramatic court action, including the testimony of one of the Costa Mesa Police Department detectives Buffett lied to: Ed Everett.
But the segment of the show that is most terrifying to ponder—even for someone like me who has known this part of the story for years—involves the appearance of Chris Williams on the witness stand. Williams had loaned Wozniak and Buffett, who were desperately broke and facing eviction from their apartment near Coast Community College, $2,000.
On May 21, 2010, Williams arrived at the apartment Wozniak and Buffett shared to collect the money. Wozniak drove away with Herr, saying he’d return shortly. Three hours later, Wozniak—who had just secretly murdered Herr—came home and plopped $400 on the table as partial payment.
Williams testified he had never seen a human so distraught as Wozniak and the weird vibe he got from the couple alarmed him, so he quickly left unaware of the life-altering events playing out around him.
Minutes later, Buffett called Williams’ cell phone and tried to lure him back to the apartment on fake pretenses after he’d already spent three hours there.
Was Wozniak going to eliminate another person who could identify him as the last person seen with Herr?
We may never know because a suspicious Williams refused to return.
A week later as he was preparing to go to the Wozniak-Buffett wedding, Williams received a call from a friend who advised him that Wozniak had been arrested.
To find out what happened next, visit the Sleuth podcast center.
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.