An ex-Disneyland princess is facing a decidedly less than fairytale ending, as she has been convicted for being an accessory to a bizarre double murder. That crime has put her ex-fiance on death row in California.
Rachel Buffett, 31, was convicted last week in Orange County CA, and was put in jail right away. She is facing more than 3.5 years in state prison when she gets her sentence in November.
State prosecutors stated that Buffett lied to law enforcement as they were investigating her fiance at the time, Daniel Wozniak. District Attorney Matt Murphy stated that Buffett lied, changed her story and generally dodged questions when she was interviewed by police who thought Wozniak had committed the two murders. Murphy said that the ex-princess lied repeatedly – both big and small lies.
Grisly Murder Involved Dismemberment
State prosecutors stated that Wozniak, 34, killed and then dismembered Samuel Herr, 26, in 2010, in order to steal money from him to pay for his wedding and honeymoon with Buffett. Wozniak schemed to steal at least $60,000 from Herr, who had saved that money from when he was in the Army in Afghanistan.
Murphy said that Google searches on Wozniak’s computer showed that he did searches for ‘how to load a shotgun’ and ‘how to hide a body.’ He also had a search about how to fake fingerprints.
After he shot Herr at a Los Alamitos theater, he used Herr’s phone to lure Kibuishi to Herr’s flat, where he shot the woman twice in the head, the prosecutor told jurors.
After he performed in a community play, Wozniak cut up Herr’s body so he could hide it in El Dorado Nature Center, which is located in Long Beach, CA. ATM withdrawals from the bank account belonging to Herr eventually led to the police to the murderer.
Police also said that Wozniak also murdered Herr’s friend, Julie Kibuishi, 23, and then tried to frame the dead soldier for her murder by making it appear that he killed the woman and then ran away.
A few days after the murders, Wozniak was placed under arrest at his bachelor party in Huntington Beach CA. Authorities reported that Wozniak confessed to 1st degree murder and was convicted at the end of 2015. He was sentenced to death, but it is likely he will serve life in prison in California.
For her part, Buffett, who is a former actress and Disneyland princess, told Dateline at NBC that she was innocent of any crimes. She said that she was hurt because the police were trying to say that she had done something she did not do.
Buffett’s defense attorney, David Medina, tried to show that Buffett was a victim and she was misled by Wozniak’s lies. He referred to his client as a star witness who offered plenty of incriminating evidence against her murderous boyfriend.
A Master Liar
During the trial for Wozniak, jurors watched videos of the killer in his interviews with police. He originally made strong denials about any involvement in the murders of both people. He said that he only had Herr’s ATM card because he was involved in a fraud scam that both deceased were running. The state prosecutor on the case said that if lying was an Olympic sport, Wozniak was a gold medalist.
But when he was interviewed by the police, he made mistakes. He mentioned several details about the crime scene, which showed that he had been there. He then made the wild claim that Herr had killed Kibuishi in a rage brought on by drugs and then hired him to cover up the murder. This story did not last very long.
When Wozniak made a call from the police station to his fiancee Buffett, she attempted to interrupt the conversation by saying she needed to tell the police about evidence that she had heard from Wozniak’s older brother. That evidence included the weapon used in the murders, shell casings and clothes that the killer wore during the murders.
Later, Wozniak admitted that he had given the items to his brother to burn. Wozniak said to Buffett on the phone that ‘now I am really dead.’ After that phone call, Wozniak called for a jailer and told him to get the detectives that had interviewed him. At that point, he confessed to both murders.
Wozniak’s brother pleaded not guilty to a charge of accessory to murder after the fact.
Wozniak’s attorneys during his murder trial did little to dispute the case of the prosecution as their client had admitted to the murders. His public defender made an effort to spare his life, but he was eventually convicted and sentenced to death. But because it is California, it is nearly certain that he will spend decades in prison before being put to death, if he ever is.