The Victims

Since I am no longer using a pseudonym for Daniel, I feel that it’s only appropriate to stop using pseudonyms for the victims.

Daniel Wozniak is accused of the cold and calculated murders of two college students.

In my early posts, I used pseudonyms for Daniel and for his alleged victims. I called them “The Vet” and “Tutor Girl.”

“The Vet”

Daniel and “The Vet” were neighbors. They lived in the same apartment complex in Costa Mesa, California. The police believe that Daniel murdered “The Vet” in order to clean out his bank account.  Daniel is also accused of murdering a young woman who was a friend and tutor of “The Vet” in order to throw off the police.

“The Vet” was Samuel E. Herr. He was 26. He was an only child. 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.

Samuel Herr and Juri Kibuishi

“Tutor Girl”

“Tutor Girl” was Juri (Julie) Kibuishi. She was 23. She was a graduate of OSCA (the Orange County School of the Arts). 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 a the kind of person who would do anything for a friend.

Close To Home

My child is a student at OSCA. I went to Orange Coast College.  I once lived in an apartment complex in Costa Mesa.  It’s all so familiar.

I don’t know if my blog will ever be read by friends or family members of Sam and Julie. The idea of it makes me nervous. I think about them a lot. My heart breaks for their families.

I try to “put myself in their shoes.” It’s impossible. Truthfully, I don’t want to think about losing a loved one… especially a child.

I see photographs of Sam’s and Julie’s parents, and the agony on their faces is plain to see.

I’ve read that Julie’s father, Masa Kibuishi, has cancer. His daughter was murdered five years ago and he wants to live long enough to see justice done.

Steve Herr, Sam’s father, has actually visited Daniel in jail a couple of times. He says he wants to know what happened to his son. He wants to understand.

Both families have said that they want Daniel Wozniak to get the death penalty.

I’m guessing they wouldn’t like me very much. Not that I would blame them. I am his friend. I try to show a human side to Daniel. I question if he’s even a murderer.

Does that make me crazy?  Naïve?

No matter what Daniel Wozniak may have done, I don’t believe he should die for it.

I understand why the families of the victims do, though.

What Do You Guys Think?

Let me know by leaving a comment… and keep reading the blog to see me question myself regularly…

Daniel Wozniak Answers My Questions: Part Two

It is a beautiful day in Southern California. On top of that, I’m lucky. I live in a nice quiet neighborhood. My dog, just picked up from the groomers, is napping next to me.

Pretty mundane, really. The thing is, my appreciation for the mundane has increased a ton since I became friends with Daniel.

Most of us have wondered: What is it really like in jail?

Every Discovery ID fan out there has watched an On The Case With Paula Zahn about some unfortunate soul who spent 27 years behind behind bars and was later found innocent through DNA.

We’ve all imagined being in that person’s shoes.

Mental Note: When questioned by the police, always ask for a lawyer.

I ask Daniel a lot of questions about his day-to-day life in the OC Jail. He’s been there 5 years, so he has the ins and outs of the place wired.

Just like Daniel, most of the detainees are awaiting trial. Unlike Daniel, the majority are not in for high profile crimes.

People come and go often. It’s a good thing that he makes friends fast.

There’s Ray Ray, Little Brother Alfredo, Jessy, Chubs, J-Cat Mark (not a friend, but he’s been the topic of many an interesting story), “Z,” and Cole (AKA Ashton Colby Sachs, who is accused of murdering his wealthy parents and paralyzing his little brother), to name a few.

Daniel does not have a celly right now, though.

Daniel on Having a Celly

excerpt of daniel wozniak's handwritter letter

“high hopes for the kid. Due to my classification, all my cellies need to be approved through the ‘higher ups.’ I’m very selective on who I chose (sic) to associate with, let alone live with, and as of now, I’m in no immediate rush to find a celly.”

I admit he sounds a little snooty there, but who can blame him for not wanting to spend twenty three hours a day with a possible J-Cat?

An inmate’s cell is his sanctuary.

Also, no one wants to be sitting on a toilet when someone else is sleeping in a bed right next to you!

You don’t want to be the person on the toilet or the person on the bed. It’s a lose-lose.

He and his last celly got along well though. They kept different schedules. Daniel is a night owl (as am I), so he finds his quiet and privacy late at night when most everyone else is sleeping.

I think that would be one of the ways that I’d survive being locked up. Not that I’m planning to go to prison in the future.

My Little Freedoms

Watching sports through the bars of his cell – one of the ways Daniel fills his time.
Watching sports through the bars of his cell – one of the ways Daniel fills his time.

My cell is currently a 12×8 aquarium minus the water and cool toy treasure chests which spew out air bubbles… cheap bastards! :-) J/K The floors are concrete, but I installed carpeting (no joke). I have a small table and stool, a combination toilet and sink, a 7.5×3 single bed and a glass window that looks out into the dayroom area. I can see the TV (which is in the dayroom) from my cell, but I have difficulty hearing it. It’s mostly on Sports — I’m actually watching Notre Dame @ Florida State College Football Game now. I currently

I enjoy my little freedoms.

I have a door on my bathroom. My sink and my toilet are not a combined unit.

If I don’t like what’s on TV, I change the channel, or put on a DVD, or watch Netflix, or turn it off.

I listen to music. There aren’t any radios or music players allowed at the OC Jail. Imagine that the only time you can hear The Beatles is when someone sings a horrible cover of “Let it Be” on American Idol.

I can choose my own companions or I can choose to be alone (I do have two kids, so admittedly “alone time” is limited, but still…)

I can eat what I want, when I want (aside from the whole keeping thin and healthy business).

My vegetarian lifestyle is easily maintained. There are so many soy options available. I love smoothies. Fruit. Yogurt. Chia seeds. Protein powder. Sometimes I even add vodka.

I buy wine (and beer and vodka and tequila) at the store. I don’t have to make it in a toilet with contraband fruit.

I can binge on season three of Orange is the New Black and watch the characters make wine with contraband fruit.

I’m glad I’m not incarcerated.

Do I feel bad for Daniel? Do I feel sorry for him that he’s behind bars?

That’s a tough one.

I care about my friend and I want him to be happy.

But if Daniel was the cause of two people losing their lives, then it seems fair that he should lose his freedom.

What I Want to Know About Daniel Wozniak

I asked Daniel a lot of questions in my early letters.   I was super curious about his day to day living.
I’d stick to asking basic stuff.  Our correspondences are obviously not private and he still hasn’t had a trial, so what is the point in asking questions he can’t answer?
I wasn’t sure how he’d feel about me “interviewing” him, but clearly, that is what I was doing.

My Questions To Daniel

Here’s what I wrote to him in September (I also mentioned that I hope he has plenty of that yellow legal pad paper):
  • Did you study art at all?  I loved the card you made me and I was ridiculously impressed by your skill.  I’m limited to stick figures myself, ha ha.
  • What does your cell look like?  Do you always have a “celly?” (Yeah that’s right. I’m learning the lingo).
  • I’m reading the biography of Damien Echols (West Memphis Three) right now.  One thing that struck me was his feelings of anger and hatred toward the guards.  He says “it’s the guards and not the other prisoners that make being incarcerated so much harder…”  So, your take on this?
  • This might sound silly, but have you considered starting some kind of theatre group behind bars? Performance therapy?  You might be laughing at my prison naivety right now.   Maybe you could entertain the masses with Shakespearean monologues??
  • Do you have a lot of family and friends supporting you through the trial?  I’d be interested in attending it.  I want to know the “more to what happened” because I’ve always believed there had to be…
  • So why were you reconnecting with your parents?  Was it your drug use that caused a rift between you?
  • Do you think she (his now ex-fiancee) ended your relationship out of anger or fear because of the charges she’s facing herself?   Did you have a big wedding planned?
  • OK, here’s a big question.  I’m not sure if you can even answer this one.  You seem like it bothers you that people would believe you were motivated by money… You don’t want people to think you had major financial troubles. The thing is, Daniel, to me it seems like society would consider it a lesser evil to believe that a person might do certain things when facing a desperate financial situation.  If you didn’t have money problems then what would you want people to believe motivated you?
  • Is your lawyer a public defender?
  • You said you were visited a couple times by one of  your victims’ dads.  HE had written in his letter  “one of my victims,” so I was just going with his terminology. Which dad? Has he explained his  motivation for wanting to visit you?
  • Was “Lost” actually your favorite TV show?  I’d read that somewhere.  I was a huge fan of “Lost.”
  • I have to ask you how you are handling the possibility of getting the death penalty.  Are you afraid of this?

Answers For Daniel

The rest of my letter was answering his questions about me.  I called it a fair exchange of information.
  • No, I don’t consider myself to be a religious person.
  • I was adopted as a baby and my adopted mother is an undiagnosed bi-polar, self-proclaimed born-again Christian.  Years of her craziness has left me with a bad taste in my mouth for organized religions.  (I told Daniel that for simplification, I could be considered an Agnostic who leans toward spirituality.)
  • I told him about my adopted dad — who passed away 8 years ago — and that I loved him tremendously in spite of his unchecked alcoholism.
  • I shared that I now have good relationships with both my biological parents (I just found my biological father last year).
  • That I was reading the second Game of Thrones book (I didn’t want him to think that when it comes to reading materials, I’m all crime all the time).
Oh, and I also included a copy of a good review he got when he was acting in the play “Nine” (his last performance before the arrest).
I finished my letter by asking if I could maybe visit him at some point…I signed the letter with “your friend,” and I meant it.