It has been seven years since the brutal murders of Samuel Herr and Julie Kibuishi. Seven years since my friend, Daniel Wozniak, destroyed many lives – including his own. I think about all the things I’ve done in the past seven years, all the life experiences I’ve had, and I can’t help feeling sickened when I contemplate all that was stolen from Sam and Julie, and from the people who loved them.
Julie Kibuishi should have celebrated her thirtieth birthday on February fourteenth, and Sam should be blowing out thirty-four candles next week (May twenty-ninth). Neither of them got a chance to graduate from college, get married, have kids… Would Julie be working in the fashion industry? Would Sam have returned to the Army as an officer? These questions haunt me, and I can’t even fathom the pain and anger that their families are forced to revisit every May. Hell, every day.
I’ve been writing this blog for two years now, and I can honestly say not a day goes by when I don’t think about Sam and Julie. I didn’t know either of them personally, but my friendship with Daniel is laced with an inherent guilt I feel over him having a life (even a limited one), when his actions stole the lives of two other people; two people who were so young, so loved, and are so missed.
Samuel E. Herr was twenty-six when Daniel killed him. Sam was an only child, and he was the center of his parents’ world. He was an Army veteran who had been a combat solider in Afghanistan. He was going to Orange Coast College on the Army GI Bill and had plans to one day become an officer.
Juri (Julie) Kibuishi was only twenty-three. She still lived at home with her parents. She was a graduate of the prestigious Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA). She was a student at Orange Coast College studying fashion design. She was also tutoring her friend Sam in anthropology. Julie was one of four children and is always described as the kind of person who would do anything for a friend.
My friend caused their deaths. This fact haunts me. I’ll talk about myself more in the next post (and my family members and some close friends have chimed in). But for now, I just want to acknowledge that May twenty first is the depressing anniversary of the murders of Sam and Julie. I send out my sincere condolences to their loved ones.