On February 24, 2006, Crystal Theobald was shot and killed in a tragic case of mistaken identity in Riverside, CA. That night, members of the 5150 gang cornered her family's SUV at an intersection and fired directly into the car, ending Theobald's life and injuring her brother.
When the investigation into Theobald's homicide came to a standstill, her mother Belinda Lane began a yearslong personal investigation of the 5150 gang with her cousin Jaimie. The two created Myspace accounts to catfish the members of the group and track down exactly who pulled the trigger.
The information they learned during their private sting operation helped bring Theobald's killers to justice. Their story is laid out in full in the Netflix documentary Why Did You Kill Me? It's an enthralling tale of revenge in the digital age.
On February 24, 2006, Crystal Theobald Was Shot By A 5150 Gang Member In A White Ford Expedition
Crystal Theobald was only 24 years old when she was shot in the head while sitting in a car with her family at an intersection in Riverside, CA. Theobald's mother, brother, and boyfriend were all in or around the car with her and witnessed the unprovoked attack.
On the night of February 24, 2006, Theobald's car was stopped at an intersection by 5150 gang members, who were under the impression that her car belonged to a rival group. A single gang member exited a white Expedition and unloaded a handgun into Theobald's car before getting back into the SUV and taking off.
Theobald's brother Justin drove to a nearby convenience store, where he cradled his injured sister in his arms until help arrived. She didn't survive the shot to her head.
Theobald’s Mother, Belinda Lane, Complicated The Case Early On By Withholding Information And Wrongly Accusing One Suspect
Theobald's mother was understandably furious and hurt that her daughter was gunned down in cold blood. But Lane was iffy about working with the police to help catch the killer. She and the rest of her family withheld some information because they worried that their drug use would be turned against them somehow.
Despite her hesitation about working with the police, Lane was confident she could ID the man behind the gun. However, she wrongly accused a young man who had nothing to do with the case. His interrogation is shown in the documentary, and it's genuinely hard to watch him realize he is close to losing his freedom even though he had nothing to do with the case.
Theobald’s Brother, Robbie, Was Also Driving A White Ford Expedition At The Scene Of The Crime, Confusing Police Officers
Much of the confusion surrounding the case's early stages is due to the fact that Theobald's brother, Robbie, was driving the same kind of vehicle the perpetrators were at the time of the shooting. Earlier in the evening, Robbie was driving through his neighborhood when he passed members of 5150, also driving a white Expedition.
The members of 5150 confused Robbie's vehicle for that of a rival gang who had performed a hit earlier in the day and gave chase. Robbie lost the gang members after a few minutes, but the damage was already done. The gang members were certain that Robbie belonged to the rival gang, and once they saw him again, another chase ensued. This time around, it ended in Theobald's death.
This case of mistaken identity and twin vehicles only served to twist up the narrative and confuse members of law enforcement.
Theobald's 14-Year-Old Cousin, Jaimie, Launched A Fake Myspace Account Using Theobald’s Picture And Friended Gang Members, Searching For Clues
Unhappy with the lack of forward motion by Riverside's law enforcement, Belinda Lane enlisted Theobald's cousin, Jaimie, to conduct their own investigation. Jaimie suggested using a fake Myspace account to catfish members of the 5150 gang and get as much information out of the young gang members as possible as a way to locate the shooter.
Initially, Jaimie created an account for "Rebecca," a teenage girl whose account said she liked to party hard. "Rebecca" was able to get some information out of the 5150 members, but after she declined to attend a party, she was ignored. After getting a taste of success with this early catfishing attempt, Lane and Jaimie created a second account named "Angel" with photos of Theobald that drew a ton of responses from young men across the Riverside area.
The two women realized how dangerous their decision was but, at the same time, felt like it was the only way to get to the bottom of Theobald's death.