See the update at the end of this post with details on Rachel Mae Buffett's arraignment and the case against her.
ORIGINAL POST, NOV. 20, 5:06 P.M.: The former fiancee of community actor-turned-suspected double murderer Daniel Patrick Wozniak has been arrested as an accessory to the slayings of 26-year-old Samuel Eliezer Herr, who was executed and dismembered, and 23-year-old Juri Julie Kibuishi, who was shot at point-blank range after being lured to Herr's Costa Mesa apartment.
Bail has been set at $1 million for Rachel Mae Buffett, 25, of Irvine, according to a Costa Mesa Police Department statement.
Juri Julie Kibuishi and Samuel Eliezer Herr, 2010 OC Homicides No. 19 and 22: Both Executed, He Was Also Dismembered
Death Penalty Sought Against Daniel Wozniak
[Moxley Confidential] Wozniak's Jailhouse Closeup: The actor and double-murder defendant's appearance on MSNBC's Lockup has one victim's dad crying foul
Police in January also arrested Timothy Wozniak, the 38-year-old brother of the accused, as an accessory after the fact, and charges were filed against him by the Orange County District Attorney's office, which is seeking the death penalty for Daniel Wozniak.
Buffett, who was scheduled to marry Daniel Wozniak within the week of his arrest, “has been within the focus of this on-going investigation over the past two years, and has been previously contacted and interviewed by detectives,” reads a statement from Lt. Paul Dondero of the Costa Mesa Police Investigations Bureau.
“Detectives compared information obtained in those interviews, with information gleaned from interviews of other witnesses, as well as additionally aspects of the investigation, and determined the was probable cause to arrest Rachel Buffett as an accessory after the fact in this murder case,” Dondero continues. “Specific information regarding her involvement is not being released, and the case against her will be presented to the District Attorney's office.”
Wozniak, who resided in the same apartment complex near Orange Coast College as Herr, allegedly murdered the former Army soldier May 21, 2010, in the base theater of the Joint Forces Training Center in Los Alamitos. Wozniak is accused of then partially dismembering Herr and leaving the torso in an attic space of the theater where he was appearing in a production. Herr's head and hands were found after a three-day search of nearby El Dorado Park Nature Center in Long Beach.
Late the same night Herr was murdered, Kibuishi was dining with her brother when she received a text from her friend Herr's cell phone number asking the Irvine resident to come over to his apartment because he was having relationship problems.
She was later found fatally shot in the head in the bedroom of Herr's apartment, where she had been sexually assaulted. Police and prosecutors now claim Wozniak killed Kibuishi and staged the scene to make it appear Herr killed her and fled.
As police searched for Herr, they discovered transactions with his bank card were being made at ATMs throughout Long Beach. A 17-year-old boy was later caught using the card, and he told investigators Wozniak put him up to it. The part-time Orange County theater actor was arrested May 26, 2010, at his bachelor party in a Huntington Beach restaurant.
District Attorney Tony Rackauckas convened a death penalty advisory committee before announcing his office's decision to seek capital punishment for Wozniak.
UPDATE, NOV. 29, 12:38 P.M.: Rachel Mae Buffett is scheduled to be arraigned in Santa Ana Friday morning on three felony
counts of accessory after the fact, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA).
Buffett, whose pending wedding to Daniel Patrick Wozniak was canceled due to his arrest for two murders a week before the scheduled ceremony, “is accused of lying to [Costa Mesa Police] officers, propagating the false story that
Wozniak told police about Herr having problems with his family, with the
intent to assist Wozniak avoid and escape from arrest, trial,
conviction, and punishment for the felony.”
Conviction could land Buffett in state prison for three years and 8 months, the OCDA says.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.