Julie Kibuishi and Sam Herr Murders: How Did They Die? Who Killed Them?

Ever since its premiere back in 1978, ABC’s ’20/20′ has been exploring one true-crime tale after another in the most unbiased manner to shine a light upon the dark reality of human nature. Thus, of course, its season 41 episode 38, aptly entitled ‘The Final Act,’ chronicling the harrowing 2010 double homicide of Juri “Julie” Kibuishi and Samuel “Sam” Eliezer Herr, is no different. So now, if you wish to learn more about the same — including the details of their passing, its ensuing investigation, their vicious perpetrator, as well as its overall aftermath — we’ve got you covered.

How Did Julie Kibuishi and Sam Herr Die?

It was in the early hours of May 22, 2010, that 23-year-old Orange Coast College student and passionate dancer Juri “Julie” Kibuishi of Irvine lost her life by being shot twice in the head. Her cold remains were actually discovered in the lived-in Costa Mesa apartment of her classmate/close friend Samuel “Sam” Herr the same evening by his father, who immediately dialed 911. She was lying face down on his bed with some of her clothes hastily ripped off, making it appear as if the 26-year-old Afghanistan War veteran had also sexually assaulted her before fleeing the scene.

Image Credit: The Herr and Kibuishi Families/CBS News

There were no signs of struggle, yet the fact Sam was essentially missing and there were texts indicating he’d invited Julie over did lead the authorities to deem him the prime suspect at first. However, the truth is the decorated former military personnel had been slain as well — Julie’s death was actually a cover-up for his murder, which began coming to light four days after the fact. He was shot twice in the head (like his friend) in the attic of a Los Alamitos theater on May 21, 2010, only to later be mutilated and partly disposed of at the El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach.

Who Killed Julie Kibuishi and Sam Herr?

Local community theater actor Daniel Patrick Wozniak is the man responsible for the double homicide of Sam and Julie, with official records making it clear that his motive was purely financial. He didn’t have a full-time job, was in deep debt, and had his wedding coming up, so when he learned Sam had $62,000 saved from combat pay, he decided to acquire the same by killing him. The army veteran was not just Daniel’s neighbor in the apartment complex but also his friend, making it easier for the latter to lure him into the empty theatre space to begin executing his plan.

Once Daniel killed Sam, he admittedly went about his day as usual and even performed in a musical at the Liberty Theater before using his victim’s phone (at roughly 11 pm) to text Julie. Since she didn’t know her friend was already dead, she soon made her way to his place, just to be attacked, slain, and then deliberately staged to look like she’d been sexually assaulted. Daniel undoubtedly went to extreme lengths to ensure he wouldn’t be considered a suspect at any moment, but his plan failed when money started being withdrawn from Sam’s account.

Because it was still believed the vet was on the run following Juri’s murder, the police were closely monitoring all activity on his bank accounts in an attempt to figure out his whereabouts. Therefore, the cash withdrawal totaling up to $2,000 piqued their interest, only for them to find a 17-year-old in possession of Sam’s ATM cards — the teen ultimately pointed the finger at Daniel. That’s when the actor was brought into custody for questioning (from his bachelor party two days before his wedding), where his accounts essentially varied with each passing hour.

Daniel confessed to his offenses in detail after around 14 hours at the station, leading to the discovery of Sam’s dismembered remains as well as further evidence against him. He’d given the murder weapon to his brother for safekeeping, a bag containing his once friend’s clothes, phone, and wallet was left outside his parent’s home, and his internet searches included “how to hide a body” as well as “quick ways to kill people.”

As if that’s not enough, Daniel’s jailhouse phone conversation with his fiancée Rachel Mae Buffett following the first few hours of his interrogation was also incriminating. He was thus arrested, charged, and eventually convicted (2016) on two counts of first-degree murder, for which he was handed the death penalty. We should mention his fiancée was also convicted on two felony counts of accessory after the fact for lying to the authorities.

Read More: Where is Daniel Wozniak Now?