The death of Crystal Theobald took place on February 24, 2006 and her mother Belinda Lane was on the hunt for the killer (Picture: NETFLIX)
**Warning: This article contains spoilers for Why Did You Kill Me? Read at your own risk.**
Why Did You Kill Me? is the nail-biting new true crime series to drop on Netflix today, following the case of Crystal Theobald, who was shot dead while in a car with her brother (Justin Theobald) and her boyfriend (Juan Patlan) in California in 2006.
The 24-year-old became entangled in a gang retaliation after one of their own vehicles was shot at, even though she had no involvement with organised crime.
The fateful event took place on February 24, 2006. The trio were planning on driving up to 7/11, which was only a few blocks away.
They never made it past the end of their street.
Peppered with family videos and photos, Why Did You Kill Me? weaves a strong story that shows you who Crystal really was.
Belinda was determined to hunt down her daughter’s killer (Picture: Netflix)
From the outset of the documentary, it becomes clear that her mother, Belinda Lane, was determined to track down her daughter’s killers. Through word of mouth, she found out that the local 5150 gang was involved in her death.
This revelation leads Belinda to create fake Myspace accounts with the help of her niece, Jaimie McIntyre. They worked hard to make one suspect fall in love with their online alias before grilling him for information.
‘I was obsessed with it. I knew how to make it look like this girl on MySpace is real. It looked like I belonged. My typing was acting,’ Jaimie revealed.
They found out what vehicles they drove and where they lived, and Belinda even drove past their houses to photograph their cars.
‘When we think of our family and the good times, it’s like, there’s a line drawn. Before crystal and after Crystal. She was just my pride and joy,’ Belinda said to interviewers.
Timeline of the murder and trials
‘They tried to establish themselves and made some inroads into being a particularly violent and confrontational gang, graduating to assaults, to shootings, and then murdering three people within the city in two and a half to three years,’ detective Rick Wheeler told interviewers.
5150 gang members Julio ‘Lil Huero’ Heredia, William ‘Jokes’ Sotelo, William ‘Lil Rascal’ Lemus, and Manuel ‘Tripper’ Lemus are driving around a neighbourhood in California in a white SVU Expedition.
Jumping out of another vehicle, a man claims that MD members (a rival gang) were driving in a large SUV and tried to shoot him while his daughter was in the car.
According to Manuel, Julio was ‘determined to do something’.
Although they didn’t know who the Theobalds were, they saw Robert Theobald (another one of Crystal’s brothers) driving in his own SUV and they were looking to retaliate.
Robert had been parked near his parents’ house talking to a friend. At this point in time, the gang had no connection to the Theobald’s.
‘I pulled up to his house and my buddy came out. He’s just in the passenger window talking to me and my girlfriend, she kind of had a look on her face. And there was an Expedition behind us and I looked at my buddy and he was getting spooked and backpedalling back up to the house,’ Robert said during the documentary.
‘I did have an eerie feeling. Like, I don’t know these people I don’t have these problems in life … I just gunned it. I thought I’d hit them or the curb like something was bound to go wrong and I slid around the corner and they immediately start chasing me.’
The gang members eventually lose sight of Robert.
Crystal and Justin are parked at an intersection near their home, with their mother in the car behind them.
Belinda recounted that she sees a man standing at a stop sign next to her children’s car and sees the white Ford Expedition go screeching past.
Julio is seen getting out of the SVU into the middle of the road and within seconds is firing at them.
‘Right as I look over, there’s a man with a hooded sweater with a gun probably a foot and a half away from me’ Justin said.
‘I see the gun and he’s moving his mouth trying to work his way up to it,’ Belinda added.
Next they hear four loud gunshots. Justin looks over to see his sister had been shot.
Minute’s later, security camera footage shows Justin and Crystal arriving at a grocery store.
The tear-inducing video shows Justin cradling his sister’s lifeless body on the floor by the car.
‘God says ask and you shall receive. I did. So where was he? He also says everything is according to his plan. What kind of f*cked up plan is that? Where’s the loving God in my life? And I don’t get it. I just want to know why,’ Justin said, choking back tears.
Determined to find out who killed Crystal, her cousin Jaimie sets up a fake Myspace account with the encouragement of Belinda. She pretends to be a young woman named Angel but uses photos of Crystal.
Soon enough Jaimie and Belinda manage to befriend William, who quickly becomes smitten with her.
‘I had to show him she [Crystal] was a beautiful person. She was hard not to fall in love with … Her personality her smile, it was hard not for that guy to fall in love with her,’ Jaimie explained.
When William invited Angel to a party and offered to pick her up, the duo knew that this was the perfect opportunity to ask what car to look for. Sure enough, it was a white Ford Expedition.
Belinda notified the detectives that were on the case that it was William who was driving the car.
Belinda decides to message a variety of 5150 gang members saying she is holding an ‘end of the world party’ on May 6, 2006.
She hoped they would all arrive to a secluded location where gun shots couldn’t be heard.
‘I made a plan to go murder people. You’re suicidal, you’re homicidal, you don’t care but you care too much. I wanted him to hurt like we were hurting,’ Belinda said.
Belinda talks to William and is frustrated by the fact that he isn’t even aware that the photo she’s using is of the person they killed.
She eventually reveals to William that she is trying to hunt him down. He disappears and stops all communication.
Belinda decides to hand over the Myspace login details to detectives to keep herself in check.
After Manuel and his brother William, who were present in the SUV during the shooting, come forward with information regarding the events of that night, the police are able to do a large gang sweep. In the morning of August 8, 25-30 houses were hit at the same time.
Julio had managed to escape to Mexico but a day later he was brought back to LA and charged with Crystal’s murder.
It was Belinda’s involvement on social media as well as the two gang members coming forward that provided the police with the information that they needed to make arrests.
Julio is given the death penalty but Belinda asked for it to be removed.
After the death penalty is taken away, Julio’s case goes to trial. It’s been five years since Crystal’s death. He is sentenced to life in prison without parole.
William remains at large and Belinda tells the interviewer that she wasn’t going to rest until he was in custody.
Two weeks later, William is arrested in Mexico. He was married with four children and was working as a chili farmer. Belinda received a tip on Facebook that led to his arrest.
William is sentenced to 22 years for voluntary manslaughter.
Belinda said that her daughter’s death and the fall out that followed was the wake up call she needed.
The mother-of-five revealed to interviewers that on the day Crystal was murdered she was high on meth. This was the last time she ever used.
‘That’s all Crystal wanted from me “mum, just get sober” and I couldn’t do it for her, I couldn’t do it for her in life. I have to learn to forgive myself. That’s harder than forgiving Julio Heredia, it really is,’ she explained.
The mother-of-five said that every day on the news there’s another gang-related victim. She wanted her life to change and move away from the woman she had become.
‘That was really the reason we asked him to take the death penalty off the table. I did the right thing for the first time in my life. I did the right thing,’ she said.
You can stream Why Did You Kill Me? on Netflix.
Credit: Original article published here.