On Friday, August 14, Daniel Wozniak went to court, again.
I wasn’t there.
I had planned to be there. I prepared in advance to be there. Nothing specific happened to interfere with me being there.
So why wasn’t I there?
That’s a good question. That’s what I kept asking myself as I dilly-dallied around my house until it was too late to go.
I was mad about it. Mad at myself. And the self-bashing escalated when I found out that Steve Herr, the father of murder victim Samuel Herr, spoke in court that day. My understanding is that he essentially asked the judge to get on with it.
Rightfully so. His son was murdered five years ago, as was Sam’s friend, Julie Kibuishi, whom Mr. Herr was the first to find.
There are some people (quite passionate writers, I might add) who have suggested that, because I am admittedly Daniel Wozniak’s friend, I am completely oblivious to the feelings of the victims’ families. That’s not true.
However: do I know what they are going through? Of course not. It would be ridiculous for me, or anyone not in their unenviable shoes, to comprehend their pain.
So I had a chance to personally hear Steve Herr speak in court, and I missed it. It was the opportunity to listen to this grieving father’s own words.
I am writing a blog about my friendship with his son’s accused murderer. How can I be an honest writer without acknowledging his pain?
Clearly, I can’t.
One might ask why I haven’t tried to communicate with the Herr and Kibuishi families. I want to tell a balanced story and show both sides, right?
Of course. However, I suspect that, at this moment, they have enough on their plates to bother with a blogger who is just fleshing out a possible-someday-maybe book. I definitely plan on approaching the loved ones of Sam and Julie in the future. If any relatives or friends of the victims agree to speak with me, I will be honored.
Back to court though: You might be wondering if I was afraid to see Mr. Herr speak. Would hearing the pain in his voice make it difficult to rationalize being friends with Daniel?
Nope. It’s quite the opposite, actually. I didn’t know he was going to speak that day. Had I known, I would have mustered my courage and made it to court. I want to be reminded of the victims and how there lives and Daniel’s will forever be intertwined.
Steven Herr was not the reason I avoided court. I think I didn’t go because I hadn’t sifted out the answers to some legitimate questions. Yet.
For the past couple of weeks, a number of people posted comments on this site’s Facebook page making accusations and assumptions about my motivation for writing this blog. Some commenters were quite vocal about their dislike of this blog, and of me for writing it. Fans of mine or not, some valid questions were raised amidst the insults .
- Why did you write to this murderer, especially since you hardly knew him before this all happened? Are you trying to get famous?
- What kind of sick person would be interested in a murderer in the first place?
- Why have you chosen his side instead of keeping an open mind?
- Are you being played and manipulated by a murdering sociopath?
I had my own internal answers for all of these questions, but I didn’t feel like I had a way of verbalizing them.
“What does this have to do with not going to court?” You might ask. “Are you sure this isn’t all an excuse because you don’t like getting up early in the morning?” and “Did you think that the Facebook commenters were going to show up at the OC Court House to yell at you?”
No, I didn’t think that.
But I did start to wonder, “What if the bailiff or the court reporter happens to ask you who you are, or why you’re there?” Hence, this post topic. I didn’t want to miss court again.
Relevant To My Interests
Let’s start with why I wrote to a “murderer” in the first place.
As I’ve said in other posts, I’ve had a fervent interest in the topic of True Crime since long before I’d ever even heard the name Daniel Wozniak. I’m a admitted True Crime junkie.
I think it’s hereditary! My biological mother is the same way. My seventeen year old watches everything from Dateline to Homicide Hunter with me. We call it “watching crime” in my house.
The genre might not be for everyone, but you can’t deny it’s popularity. If I am sick for having this interest, well, I’m not alone.
I can remember watching the TV movie Helter Skelter in 1976. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Vincent Bugliosi, about the investigation and trial of the Tate-LaBianca murders that were orchestrated and directed by Charles Manson.
Side note: On Facebook, I was accused of being a “Manson girl.” For the record, that comparison is not entirely accurate, since it was actually the “Manson Girls” (Leslie Van Houten, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian), and two male followers of Manson, who committed the murders. I am just writing about a murder case. I didn’t murder anyone.
In 1986, I was glued to the two-part TV movie series The Deliberate Stranger, starring Mark Harmon as convicted serial killer Ted Bundy. I wasn’t the only one tuning in to get a glimpse into the mind a psychopath. Like many, I was fascinated by Bundy. How could this seemingly intelligent, charming man commit numerous horrific murders? More important – why?
I’m a big on asking “Why?”
When I’m directing plays, I ask “why.” Why do characters act the way they do?
Working on a modernized version of the Greek tragedy Medea (the story of a woman who murders her own children), I spent months researching women like Susan Smith and Andrea Yates. It wasn’t enough to just tell the story. I wanted to show the human being behind the story. The audience wasn’t necessarily going to like Medea, but I was going to make them think about her.
I was still working regularly at the Hunger Artists Theatre Company in 2010 when Sam Herr and Julie Kibuishi were murdered.
Like everyone else, I believed exactly what the newspapers said about Daniel Wozniak being the savage murderer of these two innocent victims. Since I had actually just met Daniel Wozniak, spent time with him, joked with him, asked him to audition for my play… well, I won’t deny it: I was enthralled.
I wanted to know more.
I wanted to understand why!
Coming To Writing
Even though my public creative focus was on directing, I’ve always liked writing as well. The thing is, you don’t always have the time to do everything you want to do.
Hunger Artists eventually closed its doors. My kids got bigger and more independent. I found myself with time to write, and so, I did.
I wrote about my life. I wrote about Mary Magdalen. I wrote about anything I found interesting.
A guy I’d met four years earlier was accused of and had confessed to double murder, and yet he still hadn’t been sentenced. That, I found very interesting!
I realized maybe I could write a true crime book. It was close friends who kept telling me that it would be more interesting to write about my own involvement with Daniel. Anyone could report, but I had a connection.
Did I think this would lead to me becoming the JK Rowling of the genre? No. Did I hope that other people would be want to read what I write?
Of course. Just like I wanted people to see the plays I directed.
That is why I wrote the first letter to Daniel and hoped that our brief meeting years earlier would be enough to entice him to write me back.
The purpose of the blog was to have a place to write, and think, and question, and prepare, for a possible future book.
My Own Assumptions
The thing is, I already assumed Daniel Wozniak was completely guilty. The police and the newspapers said he confessed. There. Done. So let’s see if I could find out what kind of person would do these horrible acts?
I am not proud of determining anyone’s guilt solely from what I’d read in the paper.
That wasn’t fair. Innocent until proven guilty, I kept telling myself.
Was I a witness to this crime. No.
Have I ever read or heard a recording of the confession? No.
Do I have any information about physical evidence? No.
Have I seen pictures of the crime scenes? No.
That’s not the kind of person I am. I don’t blindly accept without proof, but that’s what I was doing, and I was going to stop.
Like the judge in Miracle on 34th Street, I was going to wait and see. Keep an open mind.
That is what I’m doing.
Do I think Daniel is a completely innocent man who is unfairly incarcerated?
No. I’m guessing that he had something to do with… something. That’s my hunch, but I do not know if he is a murderer. The trial will hopefully answer some of those questions.
Does having questions mean I’m being manipulated by Daniel Wozniak?
I don’t think my blog accomplishes anything for him, although he does like the idea of it. Not that he has any way to read it.
Maybe he’s a narcissist. He might just like that someone isn’t calling him a monster, for once.
You Might Not Like It, But…
Here is the part where some of you are going to get cranky.
I don’t think he is a monster… at least, I don’t think that of the person I now know.
I like Daniel. He writes a great letter. He makes me laugh. He tells the cheesiest jokes. We talk about life, religion, politics and cartoons. I enjoy our conversations on the phone, and I like visiting him.
I’m not alone in that. Daniel has close friends and supporters in and out of jail.
There are even those who believe he’s not a murderer.
And hey… what if he isn’t?
4 thoughts on “Fear and Loathing of…Me?”
Ok, so it’s pretty interesting to me that you should bring up the Manson case. Do you know the story of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald?
I watched a movie about the murders he was accused of committing when I was a kid, and even then, I thought it was a load of crock. It was during the weeks of the Manson murders when his family was killed…and he described the Manson people, or the mansonesque people rather well for not knowing anything about them.
But they pinned the murders on him. And off to prison for eternity he went.
The movie was called “fatal Vision”, I think.
I met a guy in India once…he was a Canadian CSIS agent…but don’t tell anyone I told you that. He knew Dr. MacDonald…he had spent time in prison with him…he said they had a great time. Doctor MacDonald was a doctor and he knew how to make mind altering drugs using very basic chemistry…which he and my pal apparently did as much as they could…I forget the story, but it was pretty good you know.
Anyway, he told me that he didn’t think MacDonald did it.
I don’t think Dr. MacDonald did it either….if you examine the case, we have errors and bullshit written all over it. The lead prosecutor went to prison later in life for defrauding his clients…now, think again my friend, would any lead prosecutor ever do such a thing? Well, yes! He fucking did man! So, if he would do that in private practice, what would stop him from doing it when he was in public practice? I mean, a guy would have to stoop pretty low to jus totally destroy another man…but then, I am a victim of a shooting conducted by a professional killer who was sent by persons that worked for the government, so what the fuck?
I know, from my own experience that almost nobody cares at all today about much of anything…and cops and criminals hang out together and are in fact; “best friends”.
Do you know…well, I better not say.
By the way, I didn’t realize you were writing a book about the murders…it seems in my eyes to make you far more normal than a girl who writes to a killer…your looking for the dollar….it makes sense…I see you are a more proper person. I mean, not that there’s anything wrong with contacting people we read about in the paper or anything…it’s just the, well…some people have odd ideas about things you know.
I wrote a book too…all about my experiences and all that. I was in China teaching English when the American Embassy assisted my wife in kidnapping my son….
Kidnapping is a strong word, and without a court order, a parent actually cannot kidnap their own child…but, you might wonder what the stupid Americans were doing taking an embassy car with their personell 101 miles north of Bejing and grabbing my son. But they did…in violation of American law by the way…
Anyway, I wrote a book…since I couldn’t sleep and didn’t know what to do…I couldn’t sleep or do anything…I literally slept only one hour a night for 2 months straight…which explains the many grammar errors in the manuscript.
Anyway, I don’t , mean to rant, but what I want to say is that our civil society is based upon an agreement of the various groups and factions which make up society that says they all agree to certain rules and procedures…in lew of violence you know…but in our world today, all that’s simply tossed out the window by a bunch of third worldish XXXXXX goon types who think they can simply do as they please.
Do you know what I mean?
I got my son back and was a major fucking headache for my own enemies….especially when I got some big names of real people on board with me…
By the way, don’t let people talk shit to you to the point where their words affect you.
There is a fair chance that Wozniak didn’t actually commit the crimes you know…
I mean, of course, he probably did, and you know…but…the idea of a proper lawful society is one in which the people have the guarantee of the law. I value that, more than many things…not that I wouldn’t recommend that someone kill the killer of their kids…but, that’s a little different…that’s public to private you see.
The crimes are so outragous, it’s just hard to think that someone who presents himself as well as Wozniak does could have done them. Now, I think we ought to be realistic you know….I mean, toss out the “Rhoda” complex and get realistic…it just doesn’t happen.
What if Wozniak was part of a plot to steal Herr’s money? I think that would be possible…and he had an idea that he would get the money and Herr would escape with his life…but…instead, the other people killed Herr?
OK, what if, now…I’m just speculating here…what if it had nothing to do with money…but Wozniak found out Herr was dead, so he took the money?
What if they had some kind of a unusual sort of sex thing going on? What if Herr and Wozniak were into…well…I don’t know…but what if, the truth would require Wozniak to admit embarassing things?
I don’t believe any of that…I just am saying that we don’t know…which is why we use courts to decide you know?
Now, there was this gay guy out in Montana or Utah or Colorado or someplace who walked into the wrong cowboy pub late at night by himself…his name I think was Sheppard….anyway, he walks into a bar and starts talking to the local goofs…it was a hell of a dive bar from what I understand…and two guys start talking to him…and they see he’s a drunken fool on a mission to score some dope…and he also happens to be gay…so they play on it all, and in the end he’s dead. Murdered for being a gay in a bar? No, not according to the defendants statement from a couple of years back when after getting so much slack for murdering some stupid kid on the wrong place just because he was gay, the guy came clean and said he did it because it was just a robbery…they fucking lured the guy out for drugs…and killed him because he fought back to hard as I understand…a brutal robbery made so much worse when you get pissed off.
Anyway, I’m sorry, I do tend to rant…but I think it’s all a bit relevant no?
Hi, I have no idea where I can write you to ask you this question but I hope maybe you will see this. I have been follwing this case and was trying to write about it for a project. I can not find out any where how Daniel got the pin number for Sam’s bank card. Do you know how? I have searched everywhere and found nothing. Thanks for your time and great site!
The story is that Sam loaned Dan and Rachel $100. When he went to the ATM to withdraw that money, Dan looked over his shoulder, watched him enter his PIN, and saw Sam’s balance. That’s when Dan, apparently, changed his mind about murdering his parents for money and decided to get Sam’s money.