It seems as though not a week goes by without a new true-crime documentary that has everyone talking.
From The Serpent to Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer to Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel we just can’t get enough of peering into the darkest annals of the minds of people who commit unspeakable acts.
The latest documentary that has everyone captivated is Netflix’s Why Did You Kill Me? — a deeply human tale of one mother’s mission to find her daughter’s killer.
What is Why Did You Kill Me? about?
The story follows Belinda Lane, whose daughter Crystal Theobald was killed in a shooting on February 24, 2006.
24-year-old Crystal was in a car with her brother and boyfriend, driving through their neighbourhood of Riverside, California when bullets were fired into the vehicle, striking her in the back of the head and killing her. Her mother was in the car behind them and witnessed the entire thing.
Crystal lost her life in a tragic case of mistaken identity to a gang named 5150, and her death sent Belinda on a remarkable quest for justice that involved a Myspace account, blurring the lines of legality and an unwavering desire for closure.
What exactly did Belinda do?
Due to her family’s past, which included the use and sale of drugs, Belinda was hesitant at first to fully co-operate with police — despite having her own hunch that her daughter had been murdered by a gang called 5150.
After the case went cold, Belinda sought help from her young niece Jaimie who created a fake Myspace account in an attempt to make contact with members of the gang.
Posing as 17-year-old “Rebecca”, Jaimie had some success in connecting with a few of the members but they soon lost interest in her when she was unable to meet up in real life. Unable to give up, Belinda created her own Myspace page — under the name “Angel” but using Crystal’s photo — in order to infiltrate the group she was sure was responsible for her daughter’s death.
Who did she make contact with?
Belinda soon was in contact with a 5150 gang member named “Jokes V.5150×3.SSR”, real name William Sotelo.
William soon began opening up to “Angel” as Belinda probed him for information about who he knew that owned a white Ford Expedition — the vehicle she had witnessed at the scene of her daughter’s death.
As it turned out, he owned that exact car.
So, what happened next?
After discovering who “Angel” actually was, William Sotelo — who was the getaway driver on the night Crystal was killed — fled to Mexico where he was able to hide for ten years.
He got married, had four children and found work as a chilli farmer before being captured and sentenced to 22 years in prison, having pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, as well as gang and firearm allegations in January 2020.
But, who actually pulled the trigger?
The gun that killed Crystal Theobald was fired by then 17-year-old 5150 member Julio “Lil Huero” Heredia.
In the documentary, Julio’s sister recounts the tough childhood she and her brother experienced as a result of their mother’s dependency on drugs and alcohol. It was this uneasy home life that attracted Julio to the 5150 gang as these types of organisations often provide the familial structures and financial opportunities missing from their member’s lives.
On the night of Crystal’s death, Julio and some fellow gang members were seeking revenge on a rival gang, killing Crystal instead.
Julio was charged with first-degree murder in addition to other criminal offences and was facing the death penalty until Belinda requested that it be taken off the table. He was instead sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 138 years to life in prison for the other crimes.
Where is Belinda Lane now?
Belinda still resides in Riverside, California and now runs a Facebook group dedicated to unsolved murders in the area.
Tragically, Belinda’s brother Kendall was killed in a separate unsolved homicide in 2008 so the group is dedicated to both his memory and Crystal’s.
Why Did You Kill Me? is now streaming on Netflix.
For more true-crime documentary recommendations, read: Fancy Yourself as a Sleuth? Here Are the Crime Documentaries for You