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Fiancee charged as accessory in O.C. double murder, dismemberment

November 29, 2012 |  3:34 pm

Rachel Mae BuffettA woman has been charged as an accessory in a case in which her fiance, a community theater actor, has been charged with double murder in the shooting deaths of a man whose body was dismembered and a woman who was left to look like a sexual assault victim.

Rachel Mae Buffett, now 25, faces three felony counts of being an after-the-fact accessory to the crime and is set to be arraigned Friday, the Orange County district attorney's office said in a statement released Thursday. She is being held on $100,000 bail.

If convicted, she could face a maximum sentence of three years and eight months in prison, authorities said. 

Buffett was engaged to marry Daniel Patrick Wozniak, then 28, on May 28, 2010. But prosecutors said that one week before their wedding date -- on May 21 -- Wozniak killed his neighbor, Samuel Herr, 26, to steal Herr's substantial savings. 

On the afternoon of May 21, prosecutors said, Wozniak drove Herr to the theater facility at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Center, where Wozniak had acted in plays.

Once inside, according to prosecutors, Wozniak shot Herr twice in the head, leaving his body in the theater and taking his ATM card, wallet and cellphone. 

Later that day, Wozniak allegedly used Herr's cellphone to send text messages to 23-year-old Juri Kibuishi, pretending to be Herr and arranging for Kibuishi to go to the man's Costa Mesa apartment. Herr and Kibuishi were both students at Orange Coast College.

Kibuishi arrived shortly after midnight and was shot twice in the head by Wozniak, according to prosecutors. Wozniak then partially removed her clothing to make it appear as though she had been sexually assaulted, prosecutors said.

Wozniak returned to the theater the following afternoon, cutting off Herr's clothes and hacking off the man's head, his left arm and the lower portion of his right arm, leaving his torso and legs in the theater, prosecutors said.

Wozniak, prosecutors said, discarded the dismembered body parts in El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach. 

By the night of May 22, Costa Mesa police discovered Kibuishi's body after Herr's father called authorities to check on his son's well-being. When they found Kibuishi, Herr's fate was still unknown and he became a primary suspect in her killing, prosecutors said.

Wozniak is also accused of giving Herr's ATM card after the killings to a 17-year-old acquaintance and instructing him to use it to withdraw money at various ATMs in Long Beach.

Costa Mesa detectives investigating the case learned of the withdrawals and arrested the young man after observing him using the victim's bank card, prosecutors said. Investigators found that $2,000 had been taken from Herr's account.

This led detectives to Wozniak, who was arrested May 26, 2010, during his bachelor party at the Tsunami restaurant in Huntington Beach.

In the following days, Wozniak was charged for the murder after investigators located Herr's body in the theater and his head and arms in the Long Beach nature center, prosecutors said.

During the investigation, prosecutors said that Buffett, the fiancee, lied to Costa Mesa police, telling a false story of Herr having problems with his family. 


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-- Rick Rojas

Photo: Mug shot of Rachel Mae Buffett. Credit: Costa Mesa police