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How Netflix's Why Did You Kill Me? explores Crystal Theobald's murder - true story behind the doc

Everything you need to know about Crystal Theobald - who is the focus of Netflix's latest documentary.

Why Did You Kill Me
Published: Thursday, 15th April 2021 at 9:03 am

Why Did You Kill Me? is Netflix's new true crime documentary about the death of Crystal Theobald.


In 2006, 24-year-old Crystal was shot dead while in a car with her brother (Justin Theobald) and her boyfriend (Juan Patlan) in California.

The one-off film, which arrived on the streaming site on April 14th, shows how her mother used the social networking site MySpace to investigate the people she believed were responsible, resulting in reverberations for multiple families.

So, who is Crystal Theobald? And what exactly happened to her?

Here's everything you need to know.

Who is Crystal Theobald?

Crystal Theobald was born in 1982.

At the time of her death she was 24-years-old and was living at home with her family in Riverside, California.

She had two children from a previous relationship, after which she started dating 20-year-old Juan Patlan.

What happened to Crystal Theobald?

On February 24th 2006, Crystal was killed while in a car with her brother and boyfriend. Juan was driving and Crystal's mother Belinda Lane was in another car ahead of them.

Who killed Crystal Theobald?

Crystal was killed by members of a local gang who were looking for their rivals in a car similar to the one she was driving in.

Crystal had no connection to organised crime, and she was planning on driving up to a 7/11 store, which was only a few blocks away from where she lived.

Apparently, a local gang named 5150 had heard that their rival group, who go by the name of MD, were trying to kill some of their members so decided to go after them following behind their car.

However, they lost their car and spotted the Theobald family car which looked very similar to the one they believed to be carrying MD members.

Manuel Lemus, a member of the 5150 gang, says in the Netflix documentary that having heard what had happened earlier in the day, another member of the gang, Julio “Lil Huero” Heredia, was determined to “take out” whoever was responsible.

At around 8:40pm, the car which Crystal was in was shot at multiple times by someone who got out of a white SUV. This person was Heredia.

Crystal was rushed to hospital and died two days later.

According to NBC, it was found that William Sotelo was driving the car and prosecutors said that Sotelo and Heredia did the shooting. It is thought that Julio Heredia’s shots killed Crystal.

Crystal Theobald case timeline

2003 - The gang 5150 comes into existence.

24th February 2006 – Crystal Theobald is shot dead. CCTV footage shows her brother Justin cradling her body.

20th April 2006 – Belinda, Crystal’s mother, messages a variety of 5150 members saying she is holding an 'end of the world party'. "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," she said.

26 April 2006 - Crystal's cousin Jamie sets up fake MySpace account to catch the killer.

5 May 2006 - Belinda confronts William Sotelo and is frustrated by the fact that he isn’t even aware that the photo she’s using is of the person they killed.

8 August 2007 – Julio Heredia is charged with Crystal's murder.

2011 - Heredia goes to trial.

2016 – Sotelo is arrested in Mexico.

2020 – Sotelo is sentenced to 22 years for voluntary manslaughter.

What happens in Why Did You Kill Me?

Why Did You Kill Me

The Netflix documentary shows how Crystal's mum Belinda created fake Myspace accounts with the help of her niece, Jaimie McIntyre, to try and find out who killed her daughter.

Together they worked hard to make one suspect fall in love with their online alias, before getting information out of him.

‘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.

Belinda and Jamie found out what vehicles the gang drove and where they lived, with Belinda even passing by their homes to take photos of 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.


Why Did You Kill Me? is available to stream on Netflix. Check out our lists of the best series on Netflix and the best movies on Netflix, or see what else is on with our TV Guide. Also visit our dedicated Documentaries hub for more news.


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