'Why Did You Kill Me?': New Netflix documentary tracks how a mom, teen used MySpace to try to catch killer
If you're a fan of the MTV Catfish series there is a new Netflix documentary called "Why Did You Kill Me?". (Released April 14th) tells the ultimate catfishing story about a mother who used MySpace to track down the person who killed her daughter, Crystal Theobald.
The documentation begins with images of a Microsoft Windows XP computer starting up and the launch of the MySpace site in the web browser with a banner for watching a Brooke Hogan music video. This will take you back to the MySpace era of the internet very quickly while trying to wrap your head around a family trying to catch a killer on a social networking platform.
"Why did you kill me?" (Netflix)
What happened to Crystal Theobald?
Back in 2006, Theobald, 24, was killed in a shootout in Riverside, California, in connection with a gang that followed a chase with a white Ford expedition. Someone got out of the car and shot Theobald, who was sitting in the passenger seat of another vehicle.
Mother Belinda Lane initially had in mind that her daughter's death had been linked to the local 5150 gang, a group reputed to be particularly violent in the area. Why she had this thought is not fully explained, but the investigation begins in that direction.
Lane wasn't particularly comfortable working with the police to find her daughter's killer. She admits that she did not necessarily provide all of the information she had right away and was not impressed by officials who "threatened" her sons.
This initially hidden information included the fact that her son Robert Theobald was in one of the vehicles involved in the chase. This led Det. Rick Wheeler of the Riverside Homicide Unit to do some research on the family, which revealed a history of several previous arrests. Lane also had problems with drugs, including using and selling meth.
"I took a lot of drugs on the streets," Lane admits in the documentary.
Jaimie McIntyre and Crystal Theobald in "Why Did You Kill Me?" (Netflix)
How did you use MySpace to find Crystal Theobald's killer?
Theobald's cousin Jaimie McIntyre, then 14, had a very close relationship with her deceased cousin before her death. Theobald's brother Nick told McIntyre that he believes 5,150 gang members were involved in his sister's death and they were on MySpace. At that moment, McIntyre turned to her aunt for information for the family.
McIntyre opened a fake MySpace account for a girl named Rebecca to attract members of the local 5150 gang. She texted them regularly, trying to get to know them and whether or how they were involved in her cousin's death.
In the documentary, it becomes clear that McIntyre took her role really seriously in trying to find Theobald's killer. When she was a young girl, she really had a system of telling her aunt to "play it off" before jumping in with more aggressive questions.
McIntyre realized things got more complicated when Lane hit on the idea of creating a MySpace account with her late daughter's picture, but under the name Angel. Lane said the plan was to get men to fall in love with her. A disturbing thought, definitely, but it ultimately led to significant steps in this case.
McIntyre was chatting on Angel's account with 5150 gang member William "Jokes" Sotelo on MySpace. As we see in every catfish case, the idea of a personal meeting finally comes up. Then McIntyre and Lane discover that Sotelo is driving a white Ford Expedition, the same car that was involved in Theobald's death.
Sotelo eventually admitted to police that he was involved but said his car was shot at. Sotelo said Julio "Lil Huero" Heredia got out of the vehicle while someone was shooting at his car. Police found nothing to substantiate claims that Sotelo's car was the target.
McIntyre continued to text Sotelo on MySpace, but it all got too much for the teenager eventually.
"Making someone fall in love with someone who is dead is not a good feeling," she says in the film.
"It felt like I was pretending I was her and she wasn't here anymore and it was hard to look into her face every day."
Lane then took control of the account and then things really turned a corner.
Theobald's mother was far more aggressive in her approach, including finding addresses of 5150 gang members and notifying them that rival gang members were about to pick them up. She even planned to throw a party for Angel's MySpace links to shoot her suspect.
Lane's sons eventually helped her realize this wasn't a great idea, but she was talking to Sotelo again on MySpace as Angel. Lane starts to break down and asks, "Why did you kill me?"
Belinda Lane in "Why Did You Kill Me?" (Netflix)
The death penalty is an option
While it is heartbreaking to hear Lane talk about her daughter's death at first, the final 30 minutes of the documentary focus more on the young people who are part of 5150, how they joined the gang, and their fears during the investigation.
After Sotelo disappeared after this chat, Det. Wheeler was trying to find other people who were sitting in his car on the night of Theobald's death.
Heredia was found in Mexico and later arrested in California, and investigators' discussions shifted to whether or not the death penalty should be used in these circumstances.
Heredia's sister Amalia shares his personal experience of how difficult it was to live with her mother, who abused drugs, alcohol and had no food to eat when she was growing up. She said her brother had family to look after and that he was her only father figure.
Heredia started hanging out with older men who gave him drugs and his cousin tells the story of a time when Heredia was stabbed with a kitchen knife and then he was "no longer the same".
It is then revealed that Lane's son Nick became part of a rival gang by 5150, leading his mother to fear that her son might be killed in gang violence or even kill someone herself while she also grapples with the guilt of whom Day to be high that she's daughter was killed.
Lane called this her "wake up call" and she asked the police to remove the death penalty from the table.
Heredia was sentenced to life without parole. Sotelo was also found after getting more help from Lane's internet investigation and was sentenced to 22 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.
'Why did you kill me?' will be on Netflix on April 14th
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