A Costa Mesa man accused of killing and dismembering his neighbor and then killing a friend of the victim to throw police off his tracks appeared in Orange County Superior Court on Tuesday, but his arraignment on murder charges was delayed.
Daniel Wozniak, 26, who overnight went from a lead actor at a community playhouse who was about to marry his co-star to a double-murder suspect, faces life without parole if convicted of killing neighbor Samuel Herr, 26, and Herr's friend Juri "Julie" Kibuishi, 23. He is scheduled to be arraigned June 25 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
Prosecutors allege that on May 21, Wozniak and Herr went to the playhouse at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base, which is where authorities say Wozniak shot and dismembered Herr and stole his ATM card. Wozniak allegedly cut off Herr's head, left arm and right hand and discarded them at El Dorado Park in Long Beach, said Costa Mesa Police Sgt. Ed Everett.
Herr was an Army veteran attending Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa and hoping to reenlist as an officer. He had been back from overseas less than a year. Herr and Wozniak lived at the same apartment complex across the street from the community college.
Wozniak allegedly lured Kibuishi to Herr's apartment early on May 22 by using Herr's cellphone to text- message her, police said. When Kibuishi arrived, authorities said, Wozniak shot her, removed some of her clothes and staged the scene to look like a sexual assault and killing.
"She was the sweetest, most loving individual. She's always there for everybody," Takahiro Kibuishi said of his sister, who lived in Irvine. "Unfortunately, that's what happened in this circumstance as well."
The discovery of Kibuishi's body in Herr's apartment did sidetrack investigators for a couple of days. Because police couldn't find Herr, he was the initial suspect.
But then a 17-year-old boy started emptying out Herr's bank accounts using his ATM card; when questioned by police, the teenager implicated Wozniak, who was arrested May 26 at his bachelor party.