Wozniak's Ex-Fiancee Convicted As Accessory To For-Hire Murders
LOS ALAMITOS, CA —A jury found actress, former Disney princess and fiancee of convicted murderer Daniel Patrick Wozniak, Rachel Mae Buffett, 31 of Seal Beach, guilty on two counts of being an accessory after the fact in the brutal double homicides Wednesday. They deliberated for about a day. Orange County Superior Court Judge Sheila Hanson ordered Buffett jailed immediately.
“We’re deeply grateful for the hard work of the jurors,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy said. “They did exactly the right thing.”
Prosecutors and the defendant and her attorney discussed a plea bargain, but could not close a deal.
Buffett, who is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 8, faces 44 months behind bars, Murphy said. It is most likely she would do the time in Orange County Jail.
Buffett lied to Costa Mesa police in 2010 while they were investigating Wozniak regarding the dismemberment murders, it was reported. Buffett was charged with lying to investigators and being an accessory after the fact, court records show.
She captured national headlines, declaring her innocence to Dr. Phil even as Wozniak’s defenders painted her a master manipulator who drove Wozniak to kill.
During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy argued that Buffett, despite knowing that Wozniak was suspected in the killings, was “completely dishonest” with police.
“She dodges, she’s ambiguous,” Murphy said of her behavior during two hours of police questioning.
Buffett frequently “change(d) her stories,” and details, Murphy said. “She didn’t tell them about critical parts of the investigation.”
After being sentenced last year, Wozniak is currently on death row for the financially motivated crime, of one of the most bizarre murders in Orange County history.
Wozniak, a community theater actor, was found guilty of killing his neighbor 26-year-old Samuel Eliezer Herr at a Los Alamitos theater while robbing him to pay for his upcoming wedding to Buffett. He then lured 23-year-old Julie Kibuishi to Herr’s apartment and killed her, making it look like Herr sexually assaulted her before fleeing the scene. For days, authorities suspected Herr in Kibuishi’s murder until Herr, a decorated veteran, was found dismembered in El Dorado Park.
Wozniak nearly got away with the murders, but finally admitted to police, at Buffett’s prompting, that he committed them so he could drain Herr’s bank account to pay for his upcoming wedding and honeymoon. He was arrested during his bachelor party in Huntington Beach.
Buffett and Wozniak, both actors, met while working on a play together. Wozniak took the stage for a local production of ‘Nine’ in between the killings.
Buffett, a former Disney princess who played Ariel and others, starred as the actress opposite Wozniak on the night of the murders. Upon questioning, she initially denied knowledge of the killings, though police say she is the one who directed them to the gun Wozniak used in the murders.
Buffett’s attorney, David Medina, told jurors during her trial that Wozniak is a “monster, a psychopath and a liar” who frequently fibbed to Buffett about his ability to earn an income because he thought she was “out of his league” and was desperate to hang on to the relationship.
“You’re going to have to decide, did Rachel Buffett intend to help her boyfriend get away with murder or did she help Costa Mesa police solve the murders?” the defense attorney said.
He said that it was Buffett who got Wozniak to confess to the crime in a call he made to her from his jail cell that authorities recorded.
During the original murder trial, Wozniak’s attorneys attempted to deflect Wozniak’s guilt to Buffet.
During the investigation, Buffett “voluntarily” met with investigators and was a “star witness,” Medina said. “She gave them boatloads of damning evidence.”
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City News Service, Patch Editor Paige Austin contributed to this report