Theory and opinions of how the murders of Sam and Julie were planned

Photo by Daniel Jensen on Unsplash

What follows are my analysis and opinions of information that I culled since 2013 from online media, news, transcripts, the book Killing for You by Keith Elliott Greenberg, Sleuth hosted by Linda Sawyer, the blog Daniel Wozniak is My Friend by Glendele Way-Agle with Matthew Wayne Selznick, various other media, and social media friends. None of the information here is properly cited and some of it may not be true but it is what people have said over the years. Not all facts are available or provided. Much of the information is glossed over or provided in sketchy summaries. The opinions and theories here are based on facts, speculations, inferences, and pseudo-facts. Allegations here should not be considered unequivocal facts, as they are opinions and theories based on what people have said over the years.

The content of this page will be updated as new information arises and for various writing and editing.

Wozniak and his family

Dan is the youngest of the three Wozniak boys, each are several years apart in age. The eldest is Mike, and then there is Tim, followed by Dan. Tim and Dan both developed alcohol and methamphetamine abuse issues. The father of Dan’s former girlfriend remembers that Dan once left a party and returned drunk.

Around 2007, Dan met Rachel and around 2008 the two got engaged. They planned to get married May 29, 2010. Dan’s family was Catholic and Rachel’s family was their own form of Christian. Dan’s mother got him into a prestigious school, although he was not a good student. Rachel was home-schooled and in 1996 her father protested Seal Beach’s new daytime youth curfew law, arguing that his children were often outside during regular school hours.

Dan and Rachel performed in community theater where they did not earn money and neither earned much money from working. Dan lost his jobs because he stole and his parents would not let him back home because he stole from them. Tim often needed help from his parents because he had a problem keeping a job and he spent his money on drugs and alcohol. Around this time, the Wozniak parents began withholding aid from Tim and Tim started living in homeless camps and tent cities.

A Murder plot begins

Christmastime 2009, the Wozniak sons sent their parents, Daryl and Mary Ann, on a cruise. At some point, the sons decided they wanted to kill their parents for an inheritance. During the Christmas cruise, the sons stayed at their parents’ house and partied. Daryl had a gun and Tim had gone out with his dad to shoot the gun on previous occasions. He was likely the only son to know where the gun was kept. Allegations from the podcast, Sleuth, are that the sons conspired to steal the gun with Tim’s help.

When discussing the murders that his son committed the following May, Daryl said that he had not heard from Dan for about six months and he didn’t know why. One speculation is that the Wozniaks did not want Dan around because he stole from them. Other stories are that the Wozniaks did not want Dan to marry Rachel and he chose her over them. The plan to murder his parents may have also been a factor in Dan not talking to his parents.

February 2010, Dan and Rachel were living with Rachel’s brother Noah in Noah’s apartment, a converted studio. Dan would stay gone during the day so that Rachel’s parents would not know that he was living with Rachel, as her parents did not approve of Dan.

The owner of the Liberty Theater where Sam was killed said that he found cigarette butts (or was it cigars?) and empty bottles of Gentleman Jack, a brand of whisky, with cans of Coca Cola on the catwalk above the stage. Male costumes were stolen from the theater. Speculation is that it was Dan on the catwalk and he stole the costumes because he had access to the theater and that Tim was also there because he drank Gentleman Jack. Tim and Dan may have used the theater as a sort of flophouse because they both needed somewhere to go during the day.

Sometime before the murders, Dan, Rachel, Noah, and maybe other people, discussed ways to kill people and get away with murder. Noah described that he, Rachel, and Dan would “play a game” where they would talk about ways to kill people without getting caught. A theater acquaintance of Rachel’s testified in Dan’s trial that Rachel asked her something to the effect, “If you could kill someone and get away with it, would you?” The witness said she would not and Rachel said, “I would.” Dan had a reputation for avoiding confrontation and for being friendly, while Rachel was described as cold, aloof, and very odd.

Rachel and Dan move in together

Mid-February 2010, Dan and Rachel moved to the Camden Martinique Apartments. Dan put his dad’s gun in the safe of his new apartment along with a sex tape he made of his former girlfriend who was dating someone else. He told Rachel the sex tape was for extorting money from the former girlfriend. Rachel never questioned the gun being in the safe.

Dan and Rachel met Sam Herr who lived two floors above them. Sam had many friends and one friend was Julie Kibuishi. Early in May, Dan borrowed $2,000 from Chris Williams to help pay his rent because he and Rachel were facing eviction. Also in May, Dan and Rachel were performing in the play Nine together. Sam agreed to loan Dan $100 and Dan went with Sam to an ATM. Dan saw Sam enter his PIN and he also saw Sam’s account balance of about $50,000.

Dan got a DUI and needed money to pay for costs of that that included his bail. Rachel, Noah, and Dan’s friends asked people for money to help bail Dan out of jail because he was the only male actor who could play the part of Guido in the play. Sam refused to pay anything for Dan’s DUI costs. Noah commented to someone that Sam should pay because “he has more money than any of us.” The group raised money with online crowdfunding, and without Sams help, so Dan was able to perform in the play.

Dan told his friends what it was like being in jail for a short time and how hard it was. Sam commented that what Dan experienced was nothing because Sam had been in jail for two years before being acquitted of murder. The fact of Sam’s innocence in the previous murder trial became a factor for Dan’s defense attorney, Scott Sanders, who argued that Sam’s acquittal and innocence should be admitted as evidence rebut the prosecution’s argument during sentencing that Sam was a nice person.

When Sam was 18, he had friends that were in gangs or associated with gangs but Sam was not in any gang. One of his friends was Byron Benito. One gang wanted retaliation against another gang and talked Sam into driving Byron to an industrial park on the premise of smoking weed. Sam and another person staged a fight as a distraction. Gang members took Byron to an area with many gang members and began beating and stabbing him. Sam tried to break up the fight and got injured. In the end, Byron was murdered and 18 people were charged with murder, including Sam. The case was separated into three cases with six defendants each. Defendants in the first and second trials were convicted and received serious sentences. Sam was in the third trial and all defendants in that trial were acquitted.

A mutual friend of Dan and Rachel’s at the apartment complex was Dave Barnhart. Dave was interested in Rachel. Rachel had a reputation for being promiscuous and for having sex with men who were in relationships but she rejected Dave’s advances, although she was noted for liking and wanting Dave’s attention. Dave and Julie were friends. A day or so before Sam was murdered Julie and Dave are said to have consummated their friendship. Suggestions are that Rachel was angered by the news of the affection between Julie and Dave.

When Dan confessed to the murders, he told many stories that could not have been thought up in a brief moment or in the few days before his arrest. These were complicated stories. Rachel has a demonstrated history of theft, trickery, and guile. Dan has a demonstrated history of lying and theft. Dan has not given the impression that he can write the script that he tried to follow during his confession. Rachel is not smart enough to write a story either but she is cunning enough to find a bad story line to follow or to help Dan find a bad story line. Some of the stories that are reflected in the murder plot and in the stories in Dan’s confession are Pulp Fiction because Dan came out of the bathroom to shoot Julie and the murders were fueled by drug use, Double Indemnity for the villainous vixen and $50,000 insurance scam based on a true story, also with $50K times two, and a psychotic hodge-podge of Alfred Hitchcock thrillers that include Strangers on a Train, Dial M for murder, and Psycho.

Rachel is a Mean Girl

I have been criticized for making the comparisons that follow but they are hard for me to miss.

Rachel’s life had been scripted by her parents and family. She was a “good girl” with good girl faith and the epitome of innocence according to that script. She was home-schooled and naïve about social dynamics. Rachel’s arrest photos bear a striking resemblance to those of Lindsay Lohan. Rachel’s attitude and reputation suggest she was an aspiring “mean girl.” Rachel’s life and social choices resemble the script of the movie Mean Girls.

Lindsay and RachelMean Girls stars Lindsay Lohan as a home-schooled girl entering public high school for the first time. The movie centers on the social dynamics of high school and high school cliques. In high school, according to the movie that is inspired by a book, there are “Queen Bees,” called “plastics,” in Mean Girls, “wannabes,” and other groups of people. Plastics are conceited girls who are bullies that are mean to everyone and to each other but they are the girls every other girl emulates. They have arbitrary rules and use people to get revenge on other people. Wannabes are awkward girls who want to be plastics. Rachel was home-schooled and is described in terms that suggest a conceited wannabe who bullies people like the plastics do.

Lindsay and RachelLindsay Lohan’s character, Cady, makes friends with two kids, Janis Ian and Damian, who are bullied and humiliated by the plastics. These kids want revenge on the plastics, so they talk Cady into joining the plastics. With Cady’s help, the outcast kids play tricks on the plastics before Cady gets caught. The lead plastic kept a “Burn Book” that is a scrapbook full of nasty gossip about people and she takes her revenge on Cady by tossing hundreds of copies of pages of the book around school and blaming Cady. The entire school hates Cady but Cady apologizes and the entire school adores her. Rachel liked to be mean to people and humiliate them.

Franzese and WozniakThe character Damien was played by Daniel Franzese. Damien had a dubious sexuality but he thought he was straight. The character Janis Ian made a comment that Damien was “too gay for his own good.” At the end of the film, Janis Ian and Damien, who were best friends, kissed while dancing and were repulsed from each other. Daniel Franzese later came out as gay and recently came out as a #MeToo bullying victim from when he still told people he was bisexual.

Daniel Wozniak’s headshot photos resemble the character of Damien. Daniel Franzese changed his look as he matured and grew a beard. Daniel Wozniak also changed his look and grew a beard, keeping both Daniels looking similar. People said Wozniak seemed gay. Rachel bullied Dan into kissing a man so she could laugh at him.

Franzese and Wozniak with beardsThe similarities between Rachel’s choice for a boyfriend, her social choices, her arrest photos, and her mean spirit suggest that she may have patterned her life after the movie Mean Girls, as she never shows an original thought.

Rachel is cold

Rachel seems to have expanded on whatever script she was following and developed a coldness. People commented online that she was “odd” and “cold.” After she was able to get out on her own, she learned that she could manipulate men with sex. She developed a reputation for engaging in oral sex with men, even when they were in a relationship. She told police during an interview that she had oral sex with a woman. Rachel is said to have had sex with married men. She uses sex to get what she wants. Rachel also used methamphetamine and said she liked how it made her feel numb.

Rachel was on Dr. Phil in 2012 after her arrest. She showed no emotion about the victims, Sam and Julie. When Dr. Phil commented to Rachel that she was an actress and “a good one,” Rachel showed her first emotion and smiled. Later, she is said to have beamed with pride, “They’re calling me an actress.” Throughout her interview with Dr. Phil, Rachel would slip her tongue between her teeth while talking when she seemed angry at Dr. Phil, giving her a serpentine quality that matched her cold disposition. When she mentioned the word, “murders,” she would smile.

Dan wants attention

Dan was known as being the life of the party and the center of attention. It seems he needed alcohol to maintain his jovial disposition. He enjoyed working in community theater. There were not many men who would perform for entire productions so Dan was often cast as the lead. Dan was not seen as being romantic or straight. He became drawn to Rachel and followed her around until she finally decided to date him.

Dan wanted to please Rachel. After he was in jail for confessing to murder, he started crying on the phone to Rachel, saying that he could not provide for her. A few months later, Rachel broke up with Dan. Dan was featured on a television show, Lock Up, that features life in jail and prison and has interviews with inmates. According to Glendele Way-Agle, who became “friends” with Dan four years after his arrest, Dan agreed to be on Lock Up because he wanted to win back Rachel.

Friends of Dan’s commented that Dan changed after he started dating Rachel. He used to be the life of the party but after their romance began, he followed Rachel, walking behind her like an obedient puppy, and he did what she told him to do. He used to have good hygiene but then he developed body odor and dirty hair. There are not many comments about the changes in Dan’s drug use, however his methamphetamine use seems to have increased, and he is said to have used ecstasy with Rachel, who was a regular drug user.

Change in murder target

The Wozniak boys want to murder their parents for money. Dan may be having second thoughts but he still has the gun. After Dan learns that Sam has about $50,000 in his bank account, Sam becomes the target for murder. Mike and Tim may favor Sam as a target over killing their own parents but nothing has been said of that.

Here is some speculation. Noah had taken part in a “game” of pretending how to get away the murder he says he played with Dan and Rachel. Noah also said that Sam “has more money than any of us.” It is possible that Noah helped decide on Sam as a target.

Tim has used a lot of methamphetamine, which is a poison that causes brain damage. Methamphetamine is misclassified as a drug in the law because it contains a decongestant that is a drug; but it also contains toxic ingredients, like swimming pool acid that cause brain damage. Part of the high of methamphetamine is the sensation of brain cells dying when methamphetamine destroys the parts of the brain that provide empathy and compassion. Rachel is remembered as saying that she like feeling numb from using methamphetamine. Before the murders, Tim, like Dan and Rachel, needed money. Tim is said to have wanted money to buy drugs and alcohol. Not much is said about Tim taking part in any plan to murder Sam.

Rachel said that she would get away with murder if she could. Rachel liked being mean to people. Rachel used methamphetamine and may have damage to the part of her brain that provides empathy and compassion. Rachel could have favored Sam as a target because the money would arrive faster than waiting for an inheritance and if the insurance scam, they could collect twice on the $50,000 they were stealing.

So, Dan, maybe his brothers, Rachel, and Noah may have decided together to kill Sam.

The Cover Story

What good is a murder plan without a cover story? Rachel needs a script to live by, so she certainly needs a script to kill by if she is involved in the planning. Dan told several stories about the murders after he was arrested. The first stories could have been designed to placate police and allow Dan to keep getting Sam’s money. Finding the script or scripts requires reviewing the stories Dan told, as well as the lies Rachel told to the police.

Credit Card Scheme

Dan in his confession said he helped Sam in a credit card scheme. The plan was that Dan would use Sam’s debit card and take money from the ATM, then Sam would report the card stolen and get all of his money back. View this in the light of a methamphetamine-addled mind and it could be the case, as Dan described, that Dan with his cohorts cooked up an idea to siphon money from Sam’s account and then attempt to file a fraud case online to siphon the account again. This would be consistent with the movie Double Indemnity based on the true story of double indemnity both featuring a murder concocted by a pair of lovers and insurance scam to collect twice on $50,000.


Adding Julie as a target for murder was a last minute idea so this plan is more complicated as it lacked a plan. After killing Sam, Dan began texting as Sam and texted Sam’s ex-girlfriend but she wouldn’t take part in whatever, she thought, Sam wanted. Dan needed to make Sam look alive to keep the debit card alive. Julie sent a text message to Sam and Dan responded as Sam. Dan texting as Sam said that he, Sam, was with Dan. Speculation is that when Dan responded to Julie, he put himself as the last person to see Sam alive. Dan later commented in a recorded call with Rachel, “Was I the last person with him?” One theory is that Rachel told Dan to kill Rachel because Dan posed as Sam and texted Julie that he, Sam, was helping Dan move some things.

Sam needed to be alive when Dan had an alibi. Playing the part of Guido in the play Nine is a great alibi because there are many witnesses. Dan and his helpers decided that they should frame Sam for killing Julie and that would make Julie the last person to see Sam alive and it would put Sam on the run. If Sam is on the run, Dan and company may have thought Sams debit card would be kept active, perhaps so that authorities could trace Sam’s movements.

Dan and Rachel decided to kill Julie. For Rachel, there were probably some thoughts of revenge. Julie represented everything Rachel would never be. Julie was beautiful, talented, well-liked, the natural center of attention but so humble everyone in her life were valued. Julie was a Queen Bee to Rachel’s Wannabe, although it was Rachel who was plastic and not Julie. Rachel would never be popular, well-liked, or loved by people outside of her tiny circle of family.

Julie needed to be killed by someone other than Dan because Dan needed his alibi. It was said in Sleuth that Dan and Rachel got Tim to agree to kill Julie during the Friday evening performance of Nine. Chris Williams said Rachel cried through the entire performance when she had never cried before in the play, not even during the crying scenes. Tim had difficulty carrying out the planned murder and broke a window getting into Dan’s apartment to get the gun but he failed in that terrible plan and did not kill Julie. It was said that Dan and Rachel that if Rachel got caught, then Dan and Rachel would tell police Tim was involved in the murders and he would go to prison. This is extortion and duress. If Tim is involved in a crime, then duress is a possible defense, except for homicide. As it is, Tim was never shown to be involved in either murder.

Dan and Rachel came home from the play around 11 PM. Dan continued texting Julie as Sam and Rachel replied to a Facebook post from Julie earlier in the day and Julie immediately replied. Rachel told a friend that Dan was standing behind her while she replied to Julie. Dan said that Rachel was laying on the sofa while he texted Julie. The text messages could have been from Dan or both Dan and Rachel.

Dan said in his confession that he let Julie in to Sam’s apartment around midnight, yet it is not likely Julie would enter any apartment at midnight with a man she barely knew. Julie was expecting to find Sam and not Dan. It is possible that Julie would enter the apartment with Rachel since they had just exchanged text messages on Facebook. When Julie entered the apartment, she texted her brother, Oh no, Sam’s crying. Sam was not crying because his dead body was laying in the theater attic.

Dan told police that he had been in Sam’s bathroom. If Julie saw Dan go in the bathroom, then she would know it was Dan who was crying and not Sam. Since Julie said it was Sam who was crying, so Dan must have been the person crying. Julie went to Sam’s bedroom. Dan said he led Julie to Sams bedroom but if Dan was in the bathroom, then Rachel must have led Julie to the bedroom. If Julie went in to the bedroom on her own without being led, then Dan would have said so, since there would be no point for him to say he led her there. Julie was shot in the back of her head, twice, and found on Sams bed.

The Byron Benito murder

Rachel mentioned the Byron Benito murder and told police they should look at that. Sam did not have a connection to a gang but it is possible that Dan and Rachel wanted police to think that he did. It could be that they wanted police to build their own story that Sam ran off with or was taken by a gang. It could be that they wanted police to think that the Benito murder set a pattern of behavior for Sam. Whatever they wanted police to think, the Benito murder was a red herring from Rachel.

Sam having family problems

Sam had a great relationship with his parents and he did not have family problems. If Sam did have family problems, he would not confide in two people he just met but say nothing to anyone else. Dan had family problems and he could improvise whatever story he wanted to say that Sam talked about family problems because Dan knew that Sam was dead. But why are family problems important?

If the original plan was not interrupted by a mishap with Julie, then what could have the story of family problems turned into? Dan would kill Sam and pose as Sam to tell people he was having family problems and that he, Sam, was going off on his own to do whatever Dan would say he was doing. This would keep Sam alive so the ATM card would stay alive and Dan could drain the account. Nobody would look for Sam. Dan said in his confession that Sam was never supposed to be found. If that disgusting murder plan had worked, then Dan and Rachel could drain Sams bank account, no one would look for him because he was an adult and can do what he wants, and Dan could steal Sams identity and do what he wanted with that.

But what do people in movies do when they sound as distraught as Dan was trying to make Sam sound?

There was a mention of Sam having PTSD. The story that Dan and Rachel may have cooked up could have been a suicide scheme for Sam. After Dan confessed, Rachel told the police that Sam had family problems. The purpose of this story could have been to bolster whatever story Dan and Rachel had come up with. But the knowledge of the story that Sam had family problems was only in text messages. Dan never (or is not reported to have ever) mentioned it to police and no one else mentioned the story of family problems. It seems that the story of Sam’s family problems are only known by Rachel.

Possible Story

The story Dan and Rachel were trying to write could go like this. Sam had PTSD from being in combat. He was distraught over the murder of Byron Benito. He had family problems. So, he was suicidal but he had all this money. Since he was having family problems, he didn’t want his parents to get his money. He also needed help with his suicide. He needed a gun, perhaps one that was not his own for some reason, and he needed help going through with a suicide.

There are cases of murder where the defendant claimed a bizarre assisted suicide scenario. One case in 2009 is the murder of Jeffrey Locker by Kenneth Minor. Locker was heavily in debt because of his investment in a $300 million Ponzi scheme run by Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync mastermind Lou Pearlman. He took out $14 million in life insurance to add to his $4 million and he hired Minor to kill him so that Locker’s family could get the money. Minor said he held the knife while Locker lunged in to it seven times. Minor was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20-years-to-life.

Beong Kwun Cho said Yeon Woo Lee, a childhood friend, had repeatedly prodded him over the course of about 18 months to help Lee commit surrogate suicide and that Lee devised a complicated scenario to make his death look like a robbery, or an accident, and he purchased a gun. On Jan. 24, 2011, Lee put his plan into motion. Lee told Cho that he raped Cho’s wife and he intended to rape Cho’s daughter. Then Cho killed him. Cho was sentenced to 10 years for manslaughter. An appeals court ruled that trial court could consider striking the firearm enhancement in the interests of justice and give Cho a reduced sentence.

If the first plan was supposed to be a staged suicide, then the plan went wrong when the gun jammed after Dan’s first shot into Sam’s head. People committing suicide do not shoot themselves twice in the head. If the murderous plan went right, then maybe Dan thought he could keep Sam’s body hidden long enough to get the money from Sam’s account. Since Dan shot Sam twice, perhaps he and Rachel discussed how they turn the murder into an assisted-suicide. Rachel talked to police over a week after Dan was in jail and had confessed. She said that Sam had family problems. Perhaps, Rachel was hoping that Dan could improvise a story that he helped Sam commit suicide and that Sam agreed to let Dan have his money.

Cover Story for the Money

Dan and Rachel expected to get a lot of money from Sam’s account. They didn’t know how much they could get each week but without jobs, they needed a cover story to explain the money. The day of the murders, Rachel was looking for topless waitress jobs where tips are higher than they are with regular waitress jobs. She is said to have thought that she would make great tips because she was a former Disneyland Princess. A waitress job with big tips could explain the cash that Dan and Rachel thought they would have coming in from Sam’s account. If they made $400 withdrawals every other day, then they would take in more than a $1,000 per week. Rachel was looking for these jobs before Sam was murdered when Chris was in her apartment and if this theory is true, then she is a part of the murder plan because she expected the money.

Proving Complicity in the Murders

Both the late Linda Sawyer and Glendele Way-Agle promised to provide information to prove others were involved in the murders. So far, Glen has shared a few of Dan’s comments that he did not act alone but she has not provided any real information. Linda has provided some information that further implicates Rachel and Tim as accessories after the fact for which they have already been tried. Neither Rachel nor Tim can be charged for accessory after the fact again without some new, compelling evidence and a very persuasive argument for why there should be another charge of the same crime they were convicted for.

Some of the facts that Linda discussed are that Rachel is a thief, she is promiscuous, she went to a neighbor’s apartment to see what they would see in Sam’s apartment, and she used methamphetamine. Facts concerning Tim are that he got the gun used in the murders, he went to Dan’s apartment with a plan to kill Julie, and he got blood on his shoes when Dan dismembered Sam.

To prove that someone is complicit in the murders requires evidence that they were involved in the planning or execution of the murders. This evidence must show acts that were performed before or during the murders. The things people did after the murders are not evidence for a charge of murder.

Rachel Before the Murders

Some of the facts raise questions about Rachel.

  • Rachel wanted to get away with murder.
  • She was jealous of Julie.
  • People have describe her as cold and without compassion.
  • Her friends said she used methamphetamine that numbed her emotions.
  • Rachel looking for a job with big tips possibly to provide a cover for getting Sam’s money.
  • Rachel told the lie of family problems to the police and she could only know that lie if she knew about the text messages to Julie.

Rachel after the murders...

  • Ignored the bloody evidence in her apartment.
  • Told stories and lied to people to cover for the murder.
  • Lied to the police.

Tim Before the Murders

  • Helped Dan steal their fathers gun.
  • May have helped plan Sam’s murder.
  • Agreed to kill Julie, but did not kill anyone.

Tim after the murders...

  • Helped to dismember Sam’s body.
  • Helped stage Julie's body to look like a rape.
  • Tried to use Sam’s ATM card.

Noah Before the Murders

  • Discussed ways to get away with murder.
  • Loaned Dan money and said that he would be happy if he was paid back $400 per day.

Noah after the murders...

  • Wore a black hat on Dr. Phil to cover for the lie Rachel told of seeing someone in a black hat.