Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Severed head of Afghanistan veteran found in Long Beach park

May 30, 2010 |  8:35 am

Costa Mesa police detectives found the severed head of an Army veteran at a Long Beach park, the latest twist in a bizarre double slaying.

The discovery was made Saturday. The victim's hand and arm were found there in recent days.

On Friday, police said a community-theater actor had been arrested in the killing of Samuel Herr, a 26-year-old Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and was attending Orange Coast College. Police allege the suspect dismembered his body and then killed Herr's tutor, Juri Kibuishi, staging the scene as a sexual assault. They said the actor was the one who had invited Kibuishi to the apartment, using Herr's cellphone.

Daniel Wozniak, 27, who lived three floors below Herr, had recently wrapped up a nearly monthlong performance of the musical "Nine" at the Hunger Artists Theatre Company in Fullerton and was to be married Friday at a park in Long Beach, police said. He had financial problems, owed money to several friends and was about to be evicted from his apartment, said Costa Mesa Sgt. Ed Everett. The case broke when they linked Wozniak to ATM withdrawals from Herr's account, police said.

On May 21, Wozniak and Herr drove to the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base, where Wozniak had once performed at the base's theater, police said. Wozniak allegedly shot Herr inside the theater and then dismembered his body, leaving part of it in the theater's attic and taking the remaining parts to El Dorado Park in Long Beach, where he discarded them.

Wozniak then allegedly used Herr's cellphone to send a text message to Kibuishi, asking her to come to Herr's apartment. When she arrived, Wozniak allegedly shot her and then removed some of her clothing. Police speculated that he hoped police would assume Herr was the killer.

"It's a very cold, calculating and heinous crime," Everett said. "He probably took some time to plan it."

-- Joseph Serna, reporting for the Daily Pilot, and Los Angeles Times reporters Paloma Esquivel and Christopher Goffard in Costa Mesa

Photo: Daniel Wozniak. Credit: Costa Mesa Police Department