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Hours before he played the romantic lead in a community theater play opposite his real-life fiancee, authorities allege Daniel Patrick Wozniak shot and killed his neighbor.Not long after that evening’s performance, he slipped out of the Costa Mesa apartment he shared with his then-fiancee, Rachel Buffett, 25, and killed a second person , according to police, prosecutors and Buffett's account of events.
Authorities say that when they questioned Buffett, she lied to protect Wozniak, who is now facing double murder charges.
More than two years after the May 2010 crimes, Buffett was charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact. It is a charge she disputes.
"I'm innocent, and he's guilty, and he confessed to that," she told the Daily Pilot in a jailhouse interview. She said Wozniak told her that he confessed to police that he killed the two victims.
She said she's always been honest and forth-coming with police and doesn't understand why she is now facing felony charges and a possible prison sentence of more than three years.
"You go over it in your mind, 'How could I possibly give someone wrong information?' " she said. "I was trying to be helpful and give them every conception in my mind."
Police, however, say their investigation, which included interviews with Buffett and multiple witnesses, indicates she wasn't truthful.
"She told us a story we know not to be true," said Costa Mesa Police Sgt. Ed Everett. "We waited that long basically because we didn't want to prematurely arrest her for accessory and find out she was complicit in the homicides."
Police said Wozniak killed his neighbor Samuel Herr in the theater of the Joint Forces Training Center in Los Alamitos before dismembering his body and leaving his head and hands at the nearby El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach. Authorities allege that Wozniak then killed Herr's friend and tutor, Juri "Julie" Kibuishi, 23, in Herr's apartment, then staged the crime to make it look like a sexual assault.
Wozniak reportedly told detectives he was motivated by money. He and Buffett had planned to marry soon. Authorities said Wozniak killed Herr to secure his ATM card. Herr had saved money from his time in the military.
Wozniak remains in Orange County Jail on murder charges. If convicted, he could receive the death penalty.
Buffett faces three felony charges of accessory to murder after the fact. She faces a three-year, eight-month, sentence if convicted.
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