The true story behind Why Did You Kill Me? the catfish case
Netflix has another true-crime hit on their hands in the form of Why Did You Kill Me?, the story of the 24-year-old mother of two Crystal Theobald, who was killed in 2006 in a gang shooting that she had nothing to do with. The hook of the film is that, when the police investigation ran dry, Crystal’s family took matters into their own hands, setting up dummy MySpace accounts to catfish the killers. For those interested, here’s the true story behind Why Did You Kill Me?
Crystal was one of three victims who were shot at that night. The others were her boyfriend, Juan Patlan, and her older brother Justin. None of them had anything to do with organized crime in general or that gang in particular, but all three paid a heavy price regardless – Crystal was shot and killed, Juan took a bullet in the gut, and Justin was unharmed but had to reckon with the loss of a loved one and the trauma of being present.
Taking matters into her own hands, Crystal’s mother Belinda and her niece Jaimie set up fake MySpace accounts using Crytal’s pictures but the alias “Angel”, striking up conversations with potential suspects. The film’s title is taken from one of these interactions between “Angel” and someone believed to be William “Jokes” Sotelo, a member of the gang who did the shooting. When Sotelo says he loves Angel, she responds, “Then why did you kill me?”
Sotelo was the driver of the car from which the gang shot at the Theobalds, and the last to face charges for his involvement after fleeing to Mexico following a voluntary interview that scared up some other names. Among them were Manuel “Tripper” Lemus, who revealed the attack was retaliatory in nature, and subsequently Julio “Lil Huero” Heredia, the actual trigger man. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2011.
It took much longer than that to apprehend Sotelo. It wasn’t until January last year that he was sentenced to 22 years after a guilty plea of voluntary manslaughter. He was the last of ten people who were involved in the case, all of whom pled guilty. Belinda’s efforts were instrumental in the capture of them all.