Hours before he played the romantic lead in a play opposite his real-life fiancee, authorities allege Daniel Patrick Wozniak shot and killed his neighbor.
Not long after that performance, he slipped out of the Costa Mesa apartment he shared with his then-fiancée, Rachel Buffett, 25, and allegedly killed the first victim's tutor, according to police, prosecutors and Buffett's account of events.
Authorities say that when they questioned Buffett, she lied to protect Wozniak, 28. More than two years after the May 2010 crimes, she was charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact.
It is a charge she disputed in a recent jailhouse interview with the Daily Pilot.
"I'm innocent, and he's guilty, and he confessed to that," she said, explaining that Wozniak allegedly told her that he told police he killed the two victims.
She said she's always been straight with police and doesn't understand why she is facing felony charges and a possible three-year prison sentence.
"You go over it in your mind, 'How could I possibly give someone wrong information?'" she said. "I was trying to be helpful and give them every conception in my mind."
Police, however, say their investigation, which included interviews with Buffett and multiple witnesses, indicates she wasn't truthful.
"She told us a story we know not to be true," said Costa Mesa Police Sgt. Ed Everett.
Account of events
During a recent interview in Orange County Jail, Buffett gave the Pilot her account of the days of the crimes and the months following Wozniak's arrest on May 26, 2010.
Dressed in a navy jail jumpsuit, the 115-pound woman with blond hair and blue eyes recalled the last time she saw one of the victims.
Samuel Herr, 26, lived a few floors above the apartment she shared with Wozniak. She spoke with him on May 21, 2010.
Sitting with Herr on a patio, Buffett said she thanked him for lending Wozniak $500, promising to pay him back, if for some reason Wozniak could not.
"'If you can't, sweetie, that's totally OK,'" Buffett remembered Herr telling her. "'Think of it as a wedding present.'"
Wozniak and Herr then left. Buffett was under the impression they went to a bank to withdraw the money.
That afternoon, Wozniak and Herr headed to the military base in Los Alamitos under the pretense of moving furniture inside the base's theater, according to transcripts of court testimony reviewed by the Pilot.
As Herr bent over to move furniture, police testified to the Orange County Grand Jury that they believe Wozniak shot him once. Herr turned around, apparently thinking he had been electrocuted, and, according to the transcripts, was shot a second time and died.