Crime Scenes Field Trip

We’ve established that I watch a lot of crime shows, but there’s another side to my interest in true crime.  I like playing detective.  When I was a little girl, I read two Nancy Drew books a week (because that’s all we were allowed to take out of the school library).

Thanks to Nancy Drew, I’ve poured over everything I can get my hands on about the Daniel Wozniak case.  Since he hasn’t been to court, there aren’t any trial records.  The only information available to the public comes from the DA’s office, the Sheriff’s department, and the media’s coverage of them both.

If you’re thinking I’m about to tell you I have inside information from the “killer” himself, well, I’m sorry to disappoint you.  Everything he says is recorded and everything he writes is scrutinized (I’ll talk more about jail mail next week).

But, I actually do ask Daniel questions. It’s not that I think he can answer me, it’s that I want him to be aware that I have them. He’s told me that one day he’ll give me all the answers.

We’ll see…

Visiting Some Of the Scenes of the Crimes

From everything I’ve read, I know that there are three main crime scenes associated with this case:

  1. The Costa Mesa apartment complex where Julie Kibuishi was murdered and where Daniel, his fiancé and Sam Herr were neighbors.
  2. The Liberty Theatre on the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos.  This is where Daniel allegedly shot Sam twice and then left his body in this building overnight, returning the next day to decapitate him and cut off his arm and hand.  Sam’s torso was left in the theatre.
  3. The El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach.  This was where Sam’s body parts were disposed of.  From what I’ve read, it was during Daniel’s confession that the police obtained information on where to search for Sam’s head and hands.

My friend Matt lives close to the Nature Center.  It’s one of his favorite places,  so he volunteered to show me around when I decided to visit this “scene of the crime” myself.

The Nature Center

The place is big: over one hundred acres of animal and plant sanctuary in the middle of the city.   It’s beautiful.  It’s quiet and peaceful.  For the most part, people seem respectful of others and the surroundings.

We went on a weekday.  Matt says it’s busier on the weekends.  It would have been swarming with people on a beautiful Saturday, like the one on May 22nd, 2010.

The El Dorado Nature Center only has one entrance and exit, and there’s no one checking bags when you come in.  It’s a park.  Even though it has a fence surrounding the grounds, employees told us it has plenty of holes.

Would it be feasible to enter the El Dorado Nature Center from an area other than the main entrance?  Yes.  It wouldn’t be difficult for a person to sneak onto the grounds, hide body parts in any of the densely wooded areas and then exit, probably without being seen or noticed by anyone.

So yeah, that was the constant weird thought going through both our heads as we walked along the two mile path and snapped pictures of squirrels.  I also took shots of a couple areas that seemed particularly plausible dumping grounds.

a wooded section of el dorado park

We didn’t know exactly where Sam’s body parts were found, but we did learn from employees that his parents had visited specifically to be shown those locations.

Imagine being in this serene setting and only being able to feel despair.

When we left, I saw a sign at the exit that I hadn’t noticed when we arrived.

entryway sign at the el dorado nature center
“Welcome to the El Dorado Nature Center. Take only memories, leave only footprints. Enjoy your visit…”


The Joint Forces Training Base

Next, Matt and I headed over to the Joint Forces Training Base, and this is when we started taking some issue with the public story. It didn’t seem like the kind of place a civilian like Daniel could just drive into.

training base front gate
One does not simply drive onto the Joint Forces Training Base!

Maybe Army veteran Sam Herr was with him?  Trouble with that is, it was supposed to be Daniel who asked Sam to help him move some furniture in the theatre on Friday May 22nd.

Even if Daniel did have some kind of all-access pass to this training base, there is still the matter of explaining how two men entered this base, but only one man left.

In 2010, were there no security cameras placed around the base?

Also, not to be too graphic, but where was the blood?

We are supposed to believe that on the afternoon of Friday, May 21st, Daniel and Sam went on the base together, Daniel shot Sam inside a theatre building, and Daniel left by himself… and nobody noticed.

Then, the next day, Daniel allegedly returned, mutilated Sam’s body, and exited the base… taking the body parts with him.

Maybe a person could shoot someone twice, move their body around and manage to avoid getting any blood on themselves.   But would it be possible to cut off the head and arm and hand of a dead body without getting covered in blood?

I just don’t think so.

Maybe Daniel brought a change of clothes.  That would show some scary premeditation.

I’ll be curious to see if those questions get answered during the trial, and  I hope the jury wants to know those answers, too.

What’s that expression?

Oh right… the devil is in the details.