Crime Diaries: The Celebrity Stylist – The True Story Behind the Real-Life Investigation

By Louie Fecou
Published: November 24, 2023
Is Crime Diaries: The Celebrity Stylist based on a true story?
Crime Diaries: The Celebrity Stylist | Image via Netflix

The Netflix Spanish-language movie Crime Diaries: The Celebrity Stylist is a harrowing retelling of the murder of Mauricio Leal. The film is inspired by the true crime case detailing the murder of the celebrity stylist and stars Diana Belmonte, Ernesto Benjumea, and Nelson Camayo. However, as is often the case with these sort of films, there is always a need to make the narrative as attractive as possible to viewers, and sometimes that can lead to creative decisions being made that subverts the story behind the film. With such serious subjects as murder, it can be a tightrope for filmmakers, and Crime Diaries: The Celebrity Stylist has drawn some attention over its content.

Is Crime Diaries: The Celebrity Stylist based on a true story?

Yes, Crime Diaries: The Celebrity Stylist is inspired by a true event. Directed by Jacques Toulemonde, the movie follows a young police detective who is given just twenty days to investigate what appears to be a double murder. The victims, a mother and son, are found dead together in a bed, and speculation arises about the exact circumstances behind the murders. Mauricio Leal was a famous Columbian stylist to many celebrities, as well as his mother Marleny Hernandez, so the case was very high profile, and the pressure to reach a solution was on.

What happened to Mauricio Leal?

Mauricio Leal, subject of Crime Diaries: The Celebrity Stylist

Mauricio Leal | Image via Instagram

Mauricio was found dead at the age of 47 in 2021. He was hugely successful and seemed to have a lot of work scheduled before he was found dead. The bodies of Mauricio and his mother were found in his mansion in La Calera, and the first assumption made was that he had murdered his mother, then himself. A note recovered at the scene read, “I love you, forgive me, I can’t go on. I leave everything to my siblings and cousins. All my love, forgive me, mother.”

However, there were some discrepancies surrounding the case. The knife found in Mauricio’s hand was embedded in his stomach too, but it was soon revealed that he had suffered from multiple wounds implying he did not kill himself. It seemed more likely they had been murdered, and as there were no signs of a break-in, it appears he may have known the murderer.

What happened after the murders?

Suspiciously, Mauricio’s brother Jhonier was captured removing money from the family bank accounts after the murders, making him a suspect in the investigation.

Jhonier had an alibi that was soon disproved when security camera footage showed him entering the house where the murders took place. A blood-stained towel further implicated Jhonier and settled the case for the prosecution. Stab wounds, that appeared to have been made by a left-handed attacker, also confirmed suspicions, and it was alleged that Jhonier had killed his mother, attacked his brother, and forced him to write the note, before also killing him.

Financial motivation seemed to be behind the killings, and Jhonier would eventually admit he had committed the crime, before retracting his statement, saying he was pressured into making it. He would continue to plead his innocence and the case was consistently delayed.

Crime Diaries: The Celebrity Stylist True Story

Crime Diaries: The Celebrity Stylist | Image via Netflix

Is there another suspect?

An article on a Columbian news site would report that another suspect may be involved in the case. Francisca Teresa Munoz, who is reported to be a friend of the family, would make a statement to the police saying that another member of the family, Carlos Andres Garcia, was behind the crime. Munoz would report that Garcia was also motivated by money, and the crime was planned as his mother and brother did not support him when he was in jail.

An article in The Herald of Columbia also reports that Garcia is currently being held in the Jumandi prison in Valle del Causa while facing charges related to the murders.

This testimony further muddies the water in the investigation.

What is the current status of the case?

The latest news about the case states that the trial was postponed on August 31st, 2023 as Ana Julieth Vasquez, Jhonier’s defense lawyer, had health problems. The prosecution would request the court to assign an expert to evaluate her condition so the case could continue, and in September 2023 Vasquez would resign.

With Jhonier and Garcia still imprisoned, the trial has still to conclude.

We want to hear your thoughts on the shocking true story behind Crime Diaries: The Celebrity Stylist. Share your opinion in the comments below.

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