Updates and Some Answers to Questions

Hello Readers!

Let’s begin by addressing the elephant in the blog: long time, no hear from me, and I am sorry about that.

I wrote the majority of the posts on this site years ago, when Daniel’s trial was taking place, and when he was first transferred to San Quentin’s death row.

I haven’t had much to add to the blog lately because Daniel Wozniak’s life isn’t changing much these days.

He is in prison. For life.

Even though he is now incarcerated at the California State Prison in Vacaville, he is still officially and legally a condemned man.

Daniel Wozniak’s Activities at Vacaville

In Vacaville, he is employed as a tutor, a group leader, and a hospice worker, to name a few of his many jobs behind bars. As a reminder: Daniel is part of a pilot program to house death row inmates in facilities where they can work instead of spending twenty-three hours a day in a cell.

Sam Herr’s parents have expressed some frustration that Daniel isn’t more uncomfortable… or dead.

It’s understandable. I always keep them updated about any changes in Daniel’s incarceration before I post here, and I know it’s not good news for them when his life improves.

I am, admittedly, glad that my friend has been given an opportunity to make something out of his life. I am pleased to hear him talk about the work he’s doing to help the situations of other inmates, most of whom are not murderers and will eventually be released from prison.

But Dan Wozniak didn’t kill my child.

Answers to Some of Your Questions

Death Penalty Postion?

A blog reader (hey, Jude (I wonder if they ever heard that one before)) recently asked me if I could imagine a scenario where a person deserves the death penalty.

My answer is that I am not sure. Probably not, because I would always be concerned about the possibility of executing an innocent person.

Dan Wozniak is not an innocent person.

Can I see why Sam’s and Julie’s loved ones wanted Dan Wozniak to receive the death penalty? Yes! Steve and Raquel Herr know Dan Wozniak will never be put to death by the state of California, but a death sentence still has meaning for them. It sends a message about the level of horror Dan inflicted on Sam and Julie.

Too One-Sided?

I’ve had readers suggest that my blog is too one-sided in favor of Daniel.

I chose to focus on Daniel because his was a “side” only I had the opportunity to represent.

The murders of Sam Herr and Julie Kibuishi elicited massive amounts of interest and have been covered by dozens of TV shows, podcasts, and news outlets. But I am the only person Dan trusts to be fair to him and open to the possibility that other people were involved in the murders of Sam and Julie. He knows that I am honestly his friend.

“How Can You Call Him Your Friend?”

I understand when readers question how I could be aware of Daniel’s actions and still be his friend.

I have been told a story that doesn’t exonerate Daniel, but it does give other explanations for his motivations and for his actions. My book is based on Dan’s version of events, and much of it is compiled excerpts from the hundreds of letters Daniel has written me since 2015.

My purpose is to organize his claims and compare them to known “facts” so that readers have the opportunity to decide for themselves what they want to believe.

Closest to the Truth

I don’t necessarily believe everything myself, to be honest. However, I don’t believe much of the official story, either… which also came directly from Daniel’s confession. I’m also willing to accept that human memory is faulty and that he does believe everything he’s telling me.

The blog was mostly written during Daniel Wozniak’s trial, but I’ve received a lot more information since then, and I now have the entirety of Dan’s story. It has always been my intention to shift my attention from the blog to writing a book that, by its nature, can be more informative.

It’s taking me a long time to write. Much longer than I would have expected. But, I’m hoping the time I’ve dedicated will eventually lead to a better book.

“Why Do You Ignore the Comments?”

I must apologize to new readers discovering my blog for the first time, and especially to those of you who ask questions in the comment section.

Reading and responding to comments is very challenging for me. First, as you can imagine, many of the people writing comments just want to say nasty things to me. Like, some really bad stuff. This is why my long-time editor Matt is the one who reads all the comments and decides which ones are appropriate to post.

Sometimes, readers have great questions and interesting theories. Everything readers are asking is covered in the book, but I don’t want to just keep giving the same, “You’ll read it in the book,” answer, because I know the book is taking a long time to complete.

Close the Comments..?

Every once in a while, Matt sends me an email nudging me to give some attention to this blog. Sometimes I’ve wondered if I should just close up the comments section, but it seems readers enjoy sharing and discussing theories with each other.

I’d like to know your thoughts on this, because I’m sorry to admit that I’m not likely to improve in terms of comment attention. But I really do appreciate all the readers; both new and those of your who’ve been around for a while, and I can’t tell you how much I want to get the book out to all of you.

So, I’m going to be back to work on that!

Thank you for your comments.

Observing a Grim Anniversary

Twelve years ago, Julie Kibuishi and Sam Herr were both brutally murdered.

Twelve years ago, the Kibuishi and Herr families were forever changed in the worst possible way. 

Sam Herr should be 38 years old now.  Perhaps he would have become an officer in the Army. He might have been married.  It’s quite possible Steve and Raquel Herr would be grandparents now.

Julie Kibuishi should be 35 years old. Julie was extremely talented and creative. Maybe she would be a successful fashion designer. She might have been married. Perhaps she would have been a mom.

These kinds of thoughts probably fill the thoughts of Sam’s and Julie’s loved ones on a regular basis, but on this day, on the day they were taken away, the pain must be overwhelming.

Writing this blog, writing my book (we’re nearly finished), certainly doesn’t make me blind to the horrible results of my friend’s selfish and cruel actions. 

My sympathies go out to both families on this tragic anniversary.

San Quentin Closes Death Row; Daniel Moves Again

Hello readers, and happy new year to you!

Daniel Wozniak started 2022 at a new address.

He was relocated from the Salinas Valley State Prison to the California Medical Facility (CMF) in Vacaville at the beginning of December 2021.

He and at least one other former San Quentin death row inmate made this seemingly lateral move (as far as freedoms and advantages are concerned) for, basically, administrative reasons. They needed to be re-classified.

All the former Death Row inmates were involved in a pilot program moving them to prisons where they could have opportunities to work and earn money at inmate jobs to facilitate paying restitution to the loved ones of their victims. The program was also intended to give DR inmates freedoms and opportunities that are not logistically available at San Quentin.

When the pilot program ended, Daniel and some of the other former SQDR inmates needed to be re-classified. I’ll spare you the minute details of why they couldn’t just be re-classified and stay in Salinas Valley, but they couldn’t… and so they moved again.

As opposed to the huge culture shock of moving from San Quentin to Salinas Valley, CMFV isn’t much of a change, aside from how Daniel says he has an actual window in his cell that is at least “person-sized” and opens up to the outside world.

It appears the pilot program has been successful enough to be put into use with the over five hundred and fifty remaining San Quentin death row inmates. California governor Gavin Newsom recently announced the planned closure of the entirety of San Quentin’s death row within the next two years.

It is the nation’s largest death row, and the only death row in the state of California. So even though the death penalty will still be available as a sentencing option, there won’t be a specific destination to send the condemned.

Personally, I am against the death penalty, but I can understand how losing a loved one to murder could make an individual long for that type of revenge / justice.

How could California’s death penalty hold any real weight for perpetrators or victims without the fear of living the rest of one’s days in that ominous rock fortress known as San Quentin?

Without housing California’s only death row, the prison doesn’t really serve any specific purpose that can’t be fulfilled by more modern prisons in the middle of nowhere. San Quentin is located on a very nice piece of property that could be turned into valuable real estate for the state.

Daniel made a claim that Newsom’s wife is a “land developer,” and it was obvious he was saying that California’s governor was more interested in making money than saving lives.

Daniel was wrong. Jennifer Siebel Newsom is documentary filmmaker, producer, and actress. Maybe the idea of her being a land developer just made for more of an interesting story to pass from inmate to inmate..?

As with the pilot program that included Daniel, the main justification given for moving inmates is less humanitarian and more goal based.

“For the first time in California’s history, eligible death-sentenced individuals may be housed in general population areas where they can have more access to job opportunities enabling them to pay court-ordered restitution to their victims when applicable,” — Vicky Waters, spokesperson for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Is Governor Newsom trying to completely abolish the death penalty in California?

In 2019, Newsom did put a moratorium on executions in California for as long as he is the governor, but he talks more of reforming the death penalty, not overturning it.

“We’re one of the few industrial nations in the world that still sentences its population to death,” he said. “I look forward to advancing more leadership on reforming the death penalty here in this state and, hopefully, across the country.”

I have to wonder how many of the men on San Quentin’s death row (and women at Chowchilla) look at this mass relocation as positive or negative. Daniel’s said there weren’t a ton of volunteers willing to join the original pilot program, and he claims two inmates committed suicide just to avoid the possibility of being forced to move in the foreseeable future.

I did find articles about the two suicides, but there was no specific reason given for why the men took their own lives. One of men had only been on death row for a month. The other, since 2004.

Daniel believes the forced closure and re-location of every prisoner on death row will actually lead to numerous inmate deaths, therefore “speeding up” the execution process for a number of cases. He’s positive quite a few of those who have sat for decades on death row will take their own lives before allowing themselves to be moved from the familiarity of their tiny cells.

Daniel, however, is much more comfortable and had freedoms and opportunities he never had at San Quentin. The fact that he may be able to work to pay restitution may be cold comfort for the surviving loved ones of Sam Herr and Julie Kibuishi.

Daniel Wozniak’s Open Letter to Readers

(Editor’s note: What follows is a transcription, accompanied by images of the original typed letter from Daniel Wozniak. Typos, grammatical errors, and misspellings found in the original are reproduced in the transcription.)


Daniel Wozniak’s letter to blog readers, page one of two. Click to open a larger version.

To understand what’s happening a lesson in history is warranted. First when California VOTED to bring back the Death Penalty as a punishment it was done so by means of a Proposition [commonly known as the Briggs Initiative]; which was co-authored by a judge in Orange County! Poorly written…which essentially granted years of legal appeals for all the criminals sentenced to Death. The result of which has entirely clogged the judicial process; robbing the victims of THEIR due process, while you (the taxpayers) have now spent more than $4.5 BILLION DOLLARS ever since its implementation [with just 13 executions to show for!]

Skip ahead to 2016 where a measure which would essential try to ‘fix’ this Death Penalty Problem went on the ballot [PROP 62]. However, this failed to pass due to there being yet ANOTHER poorly written measure [PROP 66]: A bait-and-switch smoke screen giving the illusion of them speeding up the Death Penalty, but without so much as offing how they planned on solving the appellate ‘clog’; which meant the Courts simply shot it down. However, there were three other things that PROP 66 did:

(1) It lowered the cost for the taxpayers by not REQUIRING inmates to be HOUSED in the high-cost setting of San Quentin (Even though we all still have the same Death sentence). (2) It raised our restitution to 77% (from 55%) to pay off Victims Restitution Orders [Which mine is well over $65,000; ordered for ME to pay by no other than the FORMER Orange County District Attorney, Mr. Matt Murphy, himself!]. And (3) Since there was no way for inmates to pay this off, those who wanted to could volunteer to work in/at another prison (if they had no write ups in 5+ years) to pay off the OCDA & OC Court ordered restitution so the burden wouldn’t have to fall to our families and loved ones (who SHOULDN’T be left held responsible for our actions!)

So what am I now doing in Salinas Valley? Well, I’m doing exactly what California VOTED for me to do. So I feel it’s important to put ALL of this into context before everyone starts getting mad. Another thing to ask yourself is who sat on the planning commission making the decision and recommendations for how the Condemned Inmate Transfer Pilot Prog. [CTTPP] was to be implemented? Well, look no further than another fine wonderful person in Orange County – The Honorable Judge Prickett!

Now…I can see and understand why family members are angry (which I’m all but certain is VERY upsetting) but ever since I began this entire process I have continually asked what others would do if they found themselves in my position…and still to this day have not found one person who has been able to offer an answer that differs from the choices I continue to make on a daily basis. I have had and continue to welcome visits from my victims families anytime they wish to see me [I’m more than willing to sit down and allow them to vent ALL their anger, frustration and grief onto me. They more than deserve that right to do so]. I have accepted full responsibility for crimes which I can’t fathom ever being forgiven for! But don’t think for one minute that a day goes by that I don’t suffer living in a perpetual prolonged daily existence with the constant reminder that there’s absolutely NOTHING I can do to repair the damage my actions caused. I can only do the things which I fell CAN make some form of a meaningful difference.

Daniel Wozniak’s letter to blog readers, page two of two. Click to open a larger version.

Understand that nothing has REALLY changed. I’m still in-prison, I’m never leaving prison and…I will eventually face what I was, in fact, sentenced to and die within prison’s walls. This journey I have now found myself on really no longer has anything to do with me. My mind wrote myself off years ago. Living in prison and on Death Row for more than a decade leaves you faced with a daily paradox each and every morning: “If I’m already dead, why do I continue to wake up each day?”

Something you first need to forget about are those ridiculous notions that prison is filled with all these evil, hate-filled, dangerous and violent predators. (I blame Hollywood and those shock-factor (UN)True Crime TV Shows – which are comical in the way they stage and film all these embellished stereotypes). In REALITY…the prison population is just a bunch of guys who the world has abandoned; lost souls who have given up since they no longer believe they have any semblance of value whatsoever. They lack direction, think they have no purpose and think themselves to be all alone in this world. [Why wouldn’t they? Nobody truly cares whether they live or die!] Society no longer wants to deal with them so it’s simply easier and convenient for them to cast labels on them: “Scary, Dangerous, Evil, Monsters, etc.) Again, in REALITY.. being treated like that for so long takes most (if not ALL) fight out of them and leaves the majority in severe states of chronic depression

[You want a real “visual”?]: Tune in to any anti-depressant medication commercial. Do you ever see the sad guy in the bit all violent, angry and beating up everyone around him? NO! Most of the time you’ll be lucky if the dude has a reason to get out of bed in the morning. In all my time I’ve known just a couple of fatal attacks in prison; all of which were active gang members handling a ‘snitch’. Yet I’ve known (personally) AT LEAST 50 who have died either by suicide, overdose or medical issues. THIS the sad reality that prison truly is…THIS is the Real Problem that nobody is doing nearly enough about!

I hope you don’t think me to be insensitive to what people “out there” think of me. I’m sorry they feel that way and would gladly take on their burden if there were such a way to do so. Nobody’s quite figured out how to accomplish that yet (but please let me know if you do). At this point I don’t know how to change their warranted feeling for me. But for now I do find myself in a position of doing something unprecedented that’s never been done before. This PROP 66 action CITPP is complete uncharted territory (for everybody). It’s still prison!

I can only continue doing what I feel is the right thing to do at this point. The one thing that prison lacks is HOPE; especially for those who don’t truly deserve to even be here [NOT ME!]. To create it sometimes you have to be the change you want to see. It’s now become both the reason & answer to my daily paradox: To bring light where you only seem to find forgotten darkness. If it’s changing and making a difference in the lives of many others in here, whom the world has forgotten and wants nothing more to do with – I’M SORRY! But I do not see the value in ceasing what I’ve been doing for years now, if it now seems to upset some people who are ALWAYS going to hate me NO MATTER WHAT! People in here need to know that they should continue to have something to hope for and the more who know this fact, the better off this whole thing will be for everyone. I’m only one man and don’t presume to think I can fix this…but it continues to be a problem that exists and I’m in a position to actually do something about it! Making a difference is one of the few living amends I can offer for the damage I’ve caused.

(Editor’s note: End of transcription.)

I hope readers found this interesting. I promise to pass your substantive comments on to Daniel… as long as they are not just hopes for Daniel’s death and the like.

Addendum, September 14, 2021

I recently had direct contact with a reader who would like to remain anonymous but had some interesting and informative questions and comments about Daniel Wozniak’s letter to readers. This reader does have a strong personal connection to this case.

This person pointed out that Daniel used the word “fix” when discussing California’s Proposition 62, but the removal of the death penalty in California would not be a fix for the many people who support keeping the death penalty.

The anonymous commenter also wanted to make sure people understand that Proposition 66 was, overall, meant to speed up the legal process so death row inmates wouldn’t have years and years of appeals. Allowing DR inmates to transfer to other prisons so they could have jobs is actually just “cherry picking” from the less important point of the proposition.

The reader also wondered why death row inmates were moved from San Quentin to be able to work, but didn’t already have jobs set up before even leaving DR? They asked, “It is true that Daniel still has not been assigned a job at Salinas Valley State Prison, but he is enjoying the benefits of not sitting on death row?”

What irked the anonymous reader the most was Daniel’s comment that he has “accepted full responsibility” for his crimes.  According to the reader, “It’s obvious that Daniel has not been honest with the police about the involvement of other people in the murders of Sam Herr and Julie Kibuishi. And until Daniel comes completely clean about all the details of the killings and who was involved – he has no right to claim he’s accepted full responsibility.”

Daniel Has Left San Quentin – Part Two

Daniel Wozniak has been sending me detailed letters about the move from San Quentin since he arrived at Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP). I’m probably not the only one interested in a first person look into this strange world, so here you go:

MON 07/12
Right on cue I woke up a little after 1AM. I made myself a strong cup of coffee and got myself ready before packing my remaining items up that had not been TRANS-PACKED [Fan, TV, Cables, Folders, Books, etc. All the miscellaneous hygiene and extras I was not going to be taking with me I set aside in a separate bag (to be dropped off at one of my neighbors upon leaving.

At 4:30AM, I began hearing CO’s rolling property carts on the tier’s above me – collecting everything from the other 19 guys who were also transferring out with me. They finally came to my door around 4:45 AM and told me to leave my property on my bed. He cuffed me up & walked down to one of the holding cells downstairs. All my neighbor’s were up (surprisingly) and all of them bid me a pleasant farewell. WOW!

They had taken the first group of guys over to R+R and the rest of us would be brought over when the next watch came on (5:30-6:00). While in the hold cells I talked to a few of the guys I knew & asked if they were told where they were going. Like me, to one had been told. At 6:00, they finally came and escorted us over. I remember thinking that this was the last time I would be walking this path I normally made going to group(s) each week. Then we passed the building & kept on walking. I hadn’t been on this new path for nearly 5 years. I was oing back out the same way I first came in. Along the way I finally got to see and have a deeper appreciation for the “Dungeon” (the very first building constructed at San Quentin). We kept walking and made it all the way down to the R+R Building.

MON 07/12 cont.

They finally opened all our doors and we were escorted out single file and brought out to the bus. Before boarding they asked up to convirm our CDCR# and then placed us in these ‘specialized’ cuffs with hinges in lieu of chains. The bus was divided into 3 different sections and 4 ‘TOTAL SEP’ caged seates (for ‘ACTIVES’). The 1st area consisted of a bench on the left (which sat 3). The 2nd section was on the right & had 3 rows of 2 individual seats (side-by-side). Then the 3rd zone in the very back of the bus contained 8 double person seats (4 on each side) This is where I sat and since there were only 7 of us left each of us goat an entire bench to ourselves. Hence, it was a very comfortable ride the entire way (to our still unknown destination).

Day to Day Life at Salinas Valley State Prison

I’ve gotten eight fat letters from Daniel, and we’ve been talking regularly on the telephone. It definitely seems like day-to-day life for the inmates at SVSP (at least in his unit) is a big step up for the nineteen men who transferred from San Quentin and death row.

His telephone usage has become a bit more of a free-for all. At San Quentin, Daniel would sign up for a specific time period and a guard would bring a telephone to his cell. He would call me and call his mom. The calls were fifteen minutes each, and he could call two times.

At SVSP, telephone time looks like it does on TV and in the movies. There are two telephones in the unit’s day room. Daniel has to wait in line and return to the back of the line after each call.

The Day Room

A Salinas Valley State Prison Day Room (sketch by Daniel Wozniak) – Click or tap to make bigger

He’s on a tier with about fifty other inmates. They all have access to the day room at some point every day.

The day room isn’t just for phone calls. It also has six single-man shower units, two televisions, and there are tables where inmates visit and play cards, eat, and whatnot.

Daniel is currently living alone in a two-person cell because the prison is still operating under some COVID-19 restrictions and there is currently no need to double up.

Inmates can actually be out of their cells from 9:00 am – 3:30 pm on weekdays. In order to leave their cell, an inmate flicks their light switch, a signal to the guard to press a button that opens the cell door.


As far as food is concerned, the inmates at SVSP get hot and, according to Daniel, pretty delicious food which is either served in a cafeteria setting. Alternately, hot food is brought to the cells.

At about 6:30 I looked out to see a work crew assemble a little min-serving station table and began to distribute the hot portions into these solid trays in assembly line unison. When the trays reached the end workers/runners began bringing each tray to every cell one by one until everyone was fed. It’s been awhile since having a hot breakfast

  • Scrambled Eggs, Hash Browns, Cinnamon Oatmeal, 2 bananas & milk.

Like the night before, when finished they came back around to collect the trays & trash from everyone. The worker who collected mine paused

The Yard

The Salinas Valley State Prison Yard (sketch by Daniel Wozniak) – Click or tap to make bigger

There are many activities available on the large and well-stocked yard. There’s a basketball court, and a soccer field. They have weights available to them in the prison gym.

However, I personally think there would be only four reasons to spend time on the yard: Their names are Kevin (a mocha-colored lab mix), Paloma (who Daniel describes as a “terrieresque furball,”) an aptly-named black lab, Chocolate, and Trixie, the tiny yet terrifying chihuahua. They all have training time out in the yard. Some of the dogs who go through the program are there to learn how to be ESAs (emotional support animals) and others are there to help make them more adoptable.

And since I wrote this – I’m happy to report that Trixie has graduated from the program and has probably gone on to be someone’s emotional support animal.


Seven days a week, inmates have a wide variety of support groups and informative classes they can attend. The list Daniel sent me included drumming, mariachi, meditation and an improv class. There were also AA and NA groups conducted in English and Spanish, and a group that works to help inmates understand the grief their victims have suffered because of their actions. The prison also offers various vocational training courses since many of these inmates are not serving life sentences and hope to find “honest” work when they are released.

There is no doubt that Daniel is more comfortable and has more freedom now. It’s a big improvement from San Quentin. No one can deny that.

It’s still a prison, though. When an alarm sounds (which happens a couple times every day) he’d better sit down immediately and not move until he’s instructed. Daniel still has no real control over his present life, and he doesn’t have much control over his future. I don’t envy his life, but at least he’s living in a place that is somewhat less terrible. I am personally happy that he’s “being treated humanely,” to quote one of my close friends.

Reactions to the Move

When I learned Daniel had been moved out of San Quentin and wrote the previous blog post, I contacted Steve Herr, Sam Herr’s father, before I posted it. I have great respect for Steve and Raquel Herr, and I try my best to be conscious of their feelings regarding my blog, my yet-to-be-published book, and my friendship with Daniel.

Steve returned the favor by letting me know about an Orange County Register story about Daniel’s move a day before it had been published. Steve was quoted in the article, which you can read here.

Daniel learned about the article from his family, who learned about it from his attorney. As Daniel told it, no one thought it was a particularly good idea to make his change of location public. He asked me to send him a copy of the story, and I did.

Coming Soon: Direct Word from Daniel Wozniak

After reading it, he decided he wanted to clearly explain to my readers why he was moved to another prison. He asked if I’d be willing to post something from him directly without editing it. I agreed, sight unseen. I’m writing a blog and a book about this person, so, in for a penny, in for a pound. I’ll post Daniel’s letter once it arrives, and I’m sure he’ll get some reply comments.

Oh and Hey Also the Book…

I had a commenter recently ask me about my book because I didn’t mention it in the last post. I just figured you were all probably getting tired of hearing me say things like “I had no idea this book would take so long to write” or “I could write a book about what’s it has been like to write this book.”

But don’t worry everyone, I’m plugging away. Thank you for reading the blog

Daniel Wozniak Has Left San Quentin

Daniel Wozniak has left San Quentin. He is no longer housed in California’s only death row prison.

You probably already figured out that Daniel did not “leave” in the same way a Texas death row inmate might leave.

The Pilot Program

Almost a year ago, Daniel signed up for a pilot transfer program to move death row inmates to prisons where they can get prison jobs. He was quickly approved.

This does not change his status as a condemned prisoner. It also doesn’t change the fact that he gets an appeal lawyer / process paid for by the taxpayers.

Death row inmates are being moved to make space for new condemned prisoners. Even though there is a moratorium against executions in California, prosecutors are still pursuing the death penalty and juries continue to choose the ultimate punishment.

Immediately after being accepted to the pilot program, Daniel spent a week going through the majority of his property so he could organize and pack it for easy transfer. For months, he and I were both ready for him to be shipped out any day. If he missed a scheduled phone call or was even an hour late, I was sure he was on that bus, and I was happy for him.

After many months of that… I basically forgot about the whole thing.

Moving Day

But last week, Daniel got the official go-ahead to prepare to leave San Quentin. He was told to pack up his property (it still was) and prepare to turn it over so it could be taken away for inspection.

Daniel was only one of about fifteen other DR inmates being prepared for transfer. None of the prisoners were told their destination, and would not find out where they were going until they were on the bus (a logical safety protocol, because there is always the chance somebody might plan an ambush of the bus in an attempt to escape).

Still, there was a consensus among the prisoners that Monday, July 12th, 2021 would be moving day because it would take a couple of days for all their property to be inspected, and transfers rarely happen on the weekends. Another big clue was that those prisoners were all given COVID-19 tests on Sunday morning.

By the time our scheduled Tuesday phone call came and went without hearing from Daniel, I knew he was on his way someplace.

Daniel Wozniak’s New Location

Three days later, I got my first letter from Daniel in his new “home.” It was a short letter to let me know where he ended up: Salinas Valley State Prison in northern California. This is still a six-hour drive for me, and no longer very close to my friends in San Francisco, but I will visit him there when all the pandemic protocols allow it.

They had indeed traveled on Monday the 12th, and weren’t told they were going to Salinas until the bus started to move. Daniel was glad the trip was only three hours instead of the ten to get to Donovan. He did, however, really enjoy looking out the window during the drive. He hasn’t seen the real world in five years. He told me it was an even more important experience for his buddy “Scooter,” who has been on death row for the past thirty years.

Daniel ended the letter saying he’ll call me (after he calls him mom) as soon as he is processed. He also promised that he’s been taking copious notes and will write and tell me all about his new life ASAP.

He ended with “You’re not going to believe this place!”

I took this to mean Salinas is an improvement to being on death row in San Quentin. He had already expected that because he had been doing research on it and on Donovan for a while. When I know more information, I will give you readers the 411 on Daniel’s new digs.

No Housewarmings

I hope my friend will be happy in his new home.

Still, it’s no condo, and I won’t be bringing a houseplant to his housewarming.

Because… Daniel Wozniak is a murderer.

Sam Herr and Julie Kibuishi are dead because of Daniel. Neither of these young people will ever move into a new home, or get to come home at all. There won’t be any housewarmings.

That’s a reality that must be unbearable for all the people who loved Sam and Julie, and I’m pretty sure it will be made worse when they learn this killer won’t even be suffering the punishment of living in a tiny cold cell on death row.

~ To be continued ~

Rhyme or the Crime

The holidays are over and I’m back to work on my upcoming book on Daniel Wozniak and the murders of Sam Herr and Julie Kibuishi. I don’t release blog posts often these days, but when something particularly interesting happens in Daniel’s life, I feel the need to post.

Something Particularly Interesting Happened

I talk to Daniel on the telephone at least four or five times a week. I haven’t been able to see him since the pandemic caused San Quentin to cancel all in-person visits. However, the prison recently started video visits with the inmates. I was scheduled twice, but there were technical issues both times.

While I had Daniel on the phone one day in December, I decided to check my email and see if there was any information about scheduling.

Instead, I noticed a Google Alert letting me know Daniel Wozniak’s name had popped up online again.

During Daniel’s trial, his name appeared regularly, but since then, I’ve learned he isn’t the only person on the internet with the name Daniel Wozniak.

This time, though, when I clicked on the email, there was another name alongside Daniel’s that caught my attention. Google had found the name Daniel Wozniak in the lyrics of a new song from rapper Eminem!

I clicked on the link and skimmed through the lyrics while Daniel was talking about having a good supply of peanut butter.

“Oh my!” I must have sounded like I’d just heard some pretty startling news.

He tentatively asked, “What’s up?”

“I just checked my email, and you know how I get those Google alerts for your name on the net?”

“Yup. Oh, goody. What’s being said about me now?”

“Eminem just released a new album.”

Daniel is used to me jumping from topic to topic during our conversations.

“OK. Is it good? My buddy Rajah is a big fan…”

“It’s called Music to be Murdered By, Side B,” I interrupted, “And there is this song on it called ‘Killer,’ and your name is in that song.”

“Sorry, what? That’s a joke?”

“Nope. I’m pretty damn sure Eminem is talking about you.” I started reading to him.

But for all you know I probably act like I’m Daniel Wozniak

I’m a psycho-chopathic killer

“It sure sounds like he’s referring to you, the Daniel Wozniak who’s a former community theatre actor and on death row for double murder.”


“Are you positive?”

I continued reading the lyrics to him, and eventually he accepted this reality.

I pointed out that his name is used in a really entertaining rhyme sequence:

You almost had a heart attack when you met Cardiac

You ran inside, told your boyfriend like, “I’ll be back”

But for all you know I probably act like I’m Daniel Wozniak

“Do you think Eminem found your name by searching for killers whose names rhyme with cardiac and heart attack?”

“No idea.”

“I guess he could be a Dateline fan. I’m trying to picture Eminem watching the ID network. Maybe he scanned the names of all the death row inmates around the country and there you were. Rhyming gold.”

Then Daniel mumbled, “I always wanted a theme song when I was a kid, bud-ump-bump.”

When I asked him if this was something he’d “brag about on the yard,” he said he wouldn’t. He’d tell Rajah, but other than that, he felt no need to draw attention to himself with the rest of the row. He went back to talking about peanut butter.

I told a number of my friends and family members about the Eminem song, and each person asked me if Daniel liked this extra bout with notoriety. I said he seemed rather indifferent about it. It’s another bizarre twist in the never boring life of Daniel Wozniak.

I won’t deny I found the entire situation oddly amusing. I’m writing a book about my friend and his name just showed up in an Eminem song!

Fifteenth of a Second of Fame

Then, as always happens, I’m hit with thoughts of Sam Herr’s and Julie Kibuishi’s loved ones. If they don’t already have their own Google alerts about Daniel, they might be learning about this song through my blog. I can at least say this is not a song about Daniel Wozniak. It’s definitely not his theme song. He’s a throw-away mention. At most.

Hello to New Readers!

If you’re new to my blog, hello! After you finish with this post, please go to the beginning so you can understand how I ended up writing about Daniel in the first place.

More importantly, you can learn about Sam Herr and Julie Kibuishi and how Daniel Wozniak is responsible for the tragic murders of these two innocent college students.

New readers often come up with some really useful comments and questions that I plan to answer in the book I’m writing about Daniel as well.

My blog readers are smart, and I do appreciate your “armchair quarterbacking” blog comments. You guys ask the exact same questions I have.

Admittedly, even though my book partially tells Daniel’s version of what “really happened” when Sam and Julie were killed, there are parts of his story that really don’t make a lot of sense to me. There are claims he’s made that have been disputed by trustworthy sources, but when the book is finally finished, you can all decide for yourselves how a middle-class kid from Long Beach can end up a murderer whose name is in an Eminem song.

Answers To Your Comments

Hello readers!

I’ve been getting some really insightful questions from commenters who listened to the Sword and Scale podcast. Margie W and Liz G brought up some interesting points, and each asked great questions that often overlapped.

I’m going to answer some of the questions now… but some will have to wait for the book.

Q: Did Noah and Nate (Rachel’s older brothers) know Dan had borrowed tools from their apartment?

At the time of Sam Herr’s and Julie Kibuishi’s murders, there were five Buffett family members living in that converted office space. It’s likely someone saw Dan borrowing the saw and ax, especially since he didn’t try to hide the fact. Dan has said Noah was present when the tools were returned, and Noah learned at some point how the tools had been used.

Q: The day Sam Herr was murdered, Dan Wozniak firmly believed Sam and Rachel had an affair. He learned this information from Rachel one week earlier. Was jealousy a contributing factor to both Sam’s and Julie’s murders?


Q: Was there jealousy toward Julie Kibuishi from Rachel Buffett?


I’m going to quote reader Liz G:

“Dan’s downfall was very likely the fact that Julie got murdered.”

In other words, he may never have been caught if Sam had been the only victim.

I have my own opinions on that:

I think she felt she had to wait out a couple of months just to make sure Dan wasn’t going to tell the police anything about her own involvement in the murders. It looked to me like she jumped ship when she felt secure in Dan’s decision to continue to protect her. However, Dan has his own opinion, and it’s more entertaining. He suggested Rachel may have found a sex tape that Dan made with his ex-girlfriend while engaged to Rachel.

Side Note For Rachel Buffett…

Happy belated birthday! I’m guessing it was much more enjoyable than the one you spent behind bars. I apologize for being one month off when I sent you the birthday card at the OC Jail.

Rachel, if you are at all interested in giving me your side of the story, and you believe Dan is being untruthful, please allow me to interview you.

Q: Why did you make the title of the blog a question?

I added the “?” on the title because a close friend kept begging me to change the name. She was worried about some of the meaner comments I’ve received over the years.

I am aware that calling Daniel Wozniak my friend has caused a lot of anger.

I did not expect people to wish for my death.

Still, I originally chose the title because I knew it would grab people’s attention when they searched the case of Sam’s and Julie’s murders. It has.

But after thinking it over, I realized my friend was right about the blog’s title possibly upsetting people so much they don’t actually read the blog. I’m hopeful the “?” shows that I am asking important questions.

I’ve debated with myself on the title of the book. Same as the blog’s name? With or without a “?”

Q: When will the book be released?

I’m just not sure. I work on the book like it’s a full-time job, but a lot depends on my next panic attack (regarding my own anxiety about putting out the best book possible). Also, my kids are home all the time because of the pandemic, so my writing does get interrupted often.

No worries though; I am motivated! I am lucky that, unlike so many people during this pandemic, I’m not having any financial issue to keep me from writing.

It means a lot to me when readers tell me they are excited about reading my book. I also really appreciate compliments about my writing (more than you know.)

I’m so glad I started with the blog first. It has taken some time, and numerous experiments, to figure out just how to tell you all Daniel’s version of the events leading to the murders, but still show that I’m questioning and analyzing his words like we True Crime lovers do.

You readers and I are going to delve into his story together. I honestly find a lot of credibility in what he’s told me. But it’s all very complicated.

A good example is what Dan has told me about Chris Williams.

If you recall, Chris was an extremely important witness in both Dan’s and Rachel’s trials. He was Rachel’s alibi for Sam Herr’s murder.

According to Daniel, the money borrowed from Chris Williams was for the purpose of buying ecstasy and Oxicontin, and Chris was waiting around all afternoon because he wanted to pick up a purchase. That’s how Daniel tells it.

Daniel also claims Rachel didn’t tell the Costa Mesa Police about her own alibi because she didn’t want to admit to a drug deal. This is just one extra branch on the tree of Daniel’s story that wasn’t brought up in trial at all.

So… how much of the story Daniel has told me will you guys choose to believe once you’ve heard everything?

Side note for Chris Williams…

It would be amazing if you’d let me interview you. Don’t worry, you don’t come off as a bad guy in Dan’s story at all, but he does have you included in drug using and purchasing.

Q: Is the blog and the book you’re working on a collaboration with Daniel Wozniak?

The book is in no way a collaboration with Daniel. I don’t share my work in progress with him at all.

There are places in the book when I’m recreating conversations Daniel told me he had with Rachel, Julie, and Sam. I have occasionally sent him early drafts of those pieces to confirm that I’d grasped the gist of what happened.

However, we both agreed early on that he would answer my questions, but have no involvement in what I write. He has absolutely no editorial or “veto” power.

There are numerous quotes included. I believe readers will appreciate the opportunity to hear some of this story in his own words.

I do actually feel like Daniel is a real friend to me. Even a good friend. I also believe this person isn’t the same man he was in 2010.

I’m not saying, “Oh he’s changed. He deserves to be free.” That wouldn’t be fair. It wouldn’t be justice. I’m sure some of you will doubt my sanity, but without Rachel Buffett in Dan’s life, I don’t believe he is dangerous in any way.

I don’t feel like I can say the same about Rachel Buffett. She could probably find any man to help her be dangerous.

Q: Why did Rachel ask, “Did you kill them?”

Yes, Rachel Buffett did ask Dan Wozniak if he killed “them” when she spoke to him on a recorded telephone conversation from the Orange County Jail. This was before Dan confessed, and before he dropped the bombshell that Sam Herr had also been murdered. Rachel found out about Sam’s killing as soon as Dan arrived back at their apartment, and Chris Williams had left.


There has been a surprising amount of interest in my hair color change. I actually find it kind of funny for a number of reasons.

  1. I’m a natural blonde. My real hair color is slightly redder than the current color, but when my roots show, it’s difficult to see much of a difference.
  2. I lived as a blonde for many years before Rachel Buffett was even born.
  3. My hairstylist is my really close friend. Going back to blonde was completely her idea. I took some convincing actually. I was worried that I’d look like a member of the Malfoy family. She now thinks it’s hilarious that my hair color has sparked such interest.
  4. My husband and my kids really like the blonde.

I really haven’t taken this “criticism” with much offense, but it’s nice that some readers were worried about my feelings.

Here is a groovy picture of me and my older brother that was obviously taken before Rachel Buffett was born in 1987.

Hopefully, that will put an end to all the silly rumors.


A Recommendation

Have any of you watched the HBO docuseries I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, about Michelle McNamara’s book on the Golden State Killer?

McNamara’s book is so beautifully written, but she didn’t live to see it published.

I find this story so heartbreaking, especially for her young daughter and her husband, comedian Patton Oswalt. The whole situation resonates with me in a way. She was writing a book about terrible crimes, but in the telling, she was also part of the story.

The HBO series focuses a fair amount on Michelle’s anxiety and stress about her writing the best book she could write. I feel rather connected to her overall story. I actually got to meet Patton Oswalt before his show at the Irvine Improv, because he likes my husband’s art. He was extremely friendly and welcoming. He also blew my mind when he did a bit onstage about his True Crime-obsessed wife. I remember feeling very simpatico with their lives.

Murderer Musings on the Sword and Scale Podcast

The Sword and Scale Podcast recently profiled the murders of Sam Herr and Julie Kibuishi. I was interviewed for the episode (via telephone) in May, and it’s now available here, or wherever you listen to podcasts. 

I think the story is covered decently, especially considering all the bizarre twists and turns in the case. They spend the first fifteen minutes or so examining how one of the victims, Sam Herr, was originally considered the prime suspect in the murder of Julie Kibuishi.

The story of Sam’s previous brush with the law has been touched on by the majority of media covering the murders. I wrote about it myself in the early days of this blog.

However, out of respect for Steve and Raquel Herr, Sam Herr’s parents, I wanted to go into a little more detail than provided in the excerpts of my interview used for the podcast. If you’ve come here as a Sword and Scale listener, this might be enlightening and interesting.

More to the Story

Julie Kibuishi’s body was found in Sam’s apartment.   Authorities thought the Army veteran had possibly snapped, murdering his friend.

It was a logical interpretation of a crime scene in which Julie’s clothing was torn and the words “all yours fuck you” were scrawled on the back of her sweater.

In fact, this was Daniel Wozniak’s intention in staging the scene Steve Herr discovered.

Dan had been aware of a dark time in Sam Herr’s life. He knew that when Sam Herr had spent some time in the Los Angeles jail.

When Sam was a teenager, he and a group of other young men had been arrested on a murder charge. So Dan figured the Costa Mesa Police would suspect Sam even more than they already did once they looked into his past.

Sam Herr had been completely acquitted of that original crime. After that, he got away from a bad crowd, joined the Army, and became a highly decorated veteran.

He did everything right. The future stolen from him would likely have been filled with success, family, and happiness.

I hope that extra context adds to your experience of the episode.

Thanks again to The Sword and Scale Podcast for having me on.

‘Rona on the Row – An Update on Daniel Wozniak and COVID-19 at San Quentin Prison

The tests came back, Daniel Wozniak, along with at least 159 other death row inmates, is infected with COVID-19. 

Daniel is, so far, completely asymptomatic. He took the actual test more than five days ago, so it’s unlikely he will end up experiencing any symptoms from the virus. 

Soon after the results came back, a guard with a large roll of red tape walked up and down the tiers, marking the cells of the infected inmates. A friend of Daniel’s who was being walked to the showers commented on seeing that tape on every tier.

Now a nurse comes to his cell twice a day to check his temperature and ask if he’s having any symptoms.

Nurses, guards, and all other non-inmates staff at San Quentin are now dressed in full protective gear at all times.

“They look like Dustin Hoffman in the movie Outbreak,” Daniel remarked.

Daniel hears alarms going off almost hourly. He’s been hearing calls of “man down” from areas throughout the building, but he has no idea if inmates are being removed from their cells. He’s not sure where they would be taken, anyway, since the prison’s hospital is full. 

Daniel did see a stretcher being carried out on a recent Wednesday night. He learned from me that this was probably Richard Eugene Stitely, a 71 year old who had died, but whether or not Stitely was infected is to be determined.

It’s impossible to say how many inmates at San Quentin are actually infected with COVID-19. Daniel Wozniak has no idea of the circumstances on the prison’s mainline. Clearly there are hundreds of positive cases, and overcrowding has to be exacerbating the problem of keeping the healthy separated from the sick. 

Perhaps some readers have trouble sympathizing for men who have been condemned to die, but this prison is filled with so many more people than the 740 or so who are on death row. There are almost 50 sick guards, and the ones that are still healthy are working double and triple shifts to cover for guards who can’t come to work. 

This situation is terrible for everyone in and out of that prison.

Read my previous post on COVID-19 at San Quentin.