Tonight, ABC News’ 20/20 will investigate the 2010 deaths of Juri “Julie” Kibuishi, 23, and Sam Herr, 26. After a series of twists and turns and a scam that involved a 16-year-old boy, police identified their killer as local theater actor Daniel Wozniak, who was convicted on December 16, 2015. Tonight, ABC will discuss the details of Kibuishi and Herr’s death, and why Wozniak’s trial has taken over five years.
Read on to learn about Daniel Wozniak.
1. He Dismembered Herr and Scattered His Limbs in Long Beach
On the night of May 22, 2010, Julie Kibuishi was found dead, sprawled on the bed of her friend, Samuel Herr. Herr was nowhere to be found, and police suspected he was guilty of the murder. Sam’s father, Steve Herr, believed his son was innocent, and soon realized there was activity on Sam’s ATM card. When police acquired footage from the bank, however, they realized Sam was not the one withdrawing money. Authorities were eventually led to local community theater actor, Daniel Wozniak, who confessed to killing Herr and Kibuishi.
After shooting the 23-year-old dancer twice in the head, Wozniak dismembered Sam Herr, according to The Daily Mail, “…leaving the torso at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base and scattering the limbs and head in El Dorado Park in Long Beach.”
2. He Hoped to Use His Acting Skills to Trick Police
Prosecutor Matt Murphy told jurors that Wozniak had hoped to, “…use his magical acting powers to trick the dumb police. The plan has now crashed into the rocks of reality.'”
How did authorities find Wozniak in the first place? After a pizza was ordered on Herr’s credit card, police tracked down the delivery location and located 16-year-old Wesley Freilich, who revealed that Dan Wozniak had given him Herr’s card and told him to make withdrawals. ABC News writes, “Freilich said Wozniak told him he was a bail bondsman and needed to collect money Sam owed… He had an actual folder of paperwork… saying that this was all legal…”
Wozniak was at his own bachelor party when police called him in for questioning. With a dead woman on their hands, though, the authorities desperately needed answers, and they traveled to Wozniak’s bachelor celebrations to find answers.
3. He Tried to Pin Kibuishi’s Murder on Herr
At first, Wozniak tried to pin Kibuishi’s murder on Herr. He told police that Herr had visited his apartment earlier that day, and confessed to “doing something bad”, saying he’d killed Kibuishi.
The details didn’t add up, though, and when police asked Wozniak for a DNA sample, he tried to cover himself by claiming he had been in Herr’s apartment the day of the murder. His statement was made even more suspicious when he told police, “Yes, I saw the goddamn body. Is that what you want to hear? Saw two gun shots in her head.” At that time, detectives had only seen one gunshot wound– that is, until the autopsy report came back, confirming what Wozniak had said.
According to Lt. Everett, Wozniak’s story kept changing, until he eventually admitted that he had not only killed Julie, but he had killed Herr, as well, who was still missing at that point.
4. His Motivation For the Murders Was Money
Wozniak knew that Herr was in the army, and had saved up $62,000 from his combat pay. After investigating Wozniak’s economic situation, police realized that the man had no money or job, and was about to be evicted. ABC News writes, “[He] saw killing Herr and stealing money as his only way out.”
According to the Daily Mail, Wozniak also hoped to use the money to pay for his upcoming wedding, which was supposed to take place two days after police interrogated him. Senior Deputy DA Matt Murphy found the ordeal despicable, reportedly saying, “So [in] Daniel Wozniak’s world — there was no problem in his mind murdering two people so he can go on a honeymoon.”
5. His Trial Begins Monday
Since Wozniak was arrested and charged with murder, he has undergone over 130 court hearings, according to Mercury News. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. “To the victims’ families… it’s been a half-decade of frustration that victimized them twice: First, when their children died brutal deaths. And second, when they became pawns in a legal chess match that has stalled the march of justice.”
What has caused the delay? A Sanders defense motion that is 754 pages long, and has more than 25,000 pages of exhibits. Wozniak’s trial is expected to begin this upcoming Monday, and he faces the possibility of the death penalty.