Costa Mesa is a beautiful city in Orange County, California, fondly known as “city of the arts.” Originally considered to be a semi-rural farming community, Costa Mesa has exploded into a dynamic city, with great entertainment and activities for everyone to enjoy. It’s no wonder why young families with kids, young professionals and older retirees alike love calling Costa Mesa home. One major event that draws over 1 million people to Costa Mesa every July is the Orange County fair, which spans over 23 days and includes thrill rides and food stands. Costa Mesa is also home to the Pacifica Amphitheater, which has seen major stars and singers perform to thousands of adoring fans. 

As of the 2010 census, Costa Mesa had a population of 109,960, making it one of the most populous areas in the city. Costa Mesa is expected to become home for even more residents in the coming years, especially as the cost of living in cities like nearby Los Angeles becomes too high. Usually as cities grow, there tends to be a corresponding uptick in crime rates. Costa Mesa is a safe area, but crime still does occur. And, in September 2016, a major crime rocked the community of Costa Mesa and sent shockwaves throughout the entire United States.

Daniel Wozniak

Daniel Wozniak was living in Costa Mesa when he murdered two people: his neighbor and friend Sam Herr, and Herr’s friend Julie Kibushi. Wozniak committed the crime out of a need for money, as he was deeply in debt and needed finances to fund his upcoming wedding. After evading capture for several months, Wozniak was eventually tried for two counts of first-degree murder. He was found guilty and sentenced to death in 2016, but is still incarcerated in San Quentin State Prison. Wozniak made an extensive effort to stage a crime scene to frame Herr, and initially police believed Herr was responsible for Kibushi’s death. 

What is a crime scene?

Crime scenes are all different and many people have certain beliefs based on what is portrayed on screen. But, according to the extent of the violence or brutality of the crime, crime scenes aren’t always confined to one certain area or square footage. Usually, a crime scene refers to a tangible location where some kind of criminal activity has taken place. Crime scenes can be found anywhere, such as someone’s home, office or commercial space, or even in an outdoor area like a park. Crime scenes can be so far removed from the public eye that it takes months or even years to discover or be taken care of. Once a crime scene is discovered, two steps will immediately take place: law enforcement will take over the area and also seal it off to the public. Though loved ones may want to see the scene for themselves, a full seal-off is done to preserve the scene so that the sheriff’s office and coroner can collect every piece of evidence and ensure that the scene isn’t contaminated by human interference or other external forces, like weather. Even if a full investigation of the scene does delay cleaning by a few weeks, it is still crucial for law enforcement to get an accurate picture of what occurred so that they can begin solving the actual crime. Once cleanup is complete, the area will be turned back over to the landowner or government agency. 

Crime Scene Cleanup

Because crime scenes are very complex and often hard to follow, family members may be at a loss in understanding what happened to their loved one, adding on to an already traumatic experience. Once law enforcement finishes crime scene investigation, family members must begin the long healing process while the case is being solved. A key aspect of moving forward for all involved cleaning up the crime scene and returning the space to its original state. Unfortunately, there is no law requiring law enforcement or the county clean up, sanitize and restore a crime scene. Still, this is a necessary process. It is not advised for this difficult responsibility to be undertaken by residents or family members, as many people are not well-prepared to clean biohazard materials and other pathogens present at a crime scene. This responsibility should only be undertaken by a professional crime scene cleanup company with the right experience and tools to get the job done correctly. 

A professional company will begin the cleanup process with a series of four steps: cleaning, sanitization, deodorization and restoration. All cleaners will wear the right personal protective equipment, including gloves, goggles and skin covering, to treat and eliminate bacteria. Next, the company will chemically sanitize the area to eliminate pathogenic material that may be lurking on the surface and invisible to the eye. The company will deodorize the crime scene if a body had remained at that scene for an extended period of time. The company will finish by restoring the scene to a livable area. Throughout the entire cleanup process, the company will remain sensitive to the family members’ needs and proceed with care.