‘Lover, Stalker, Killer’s Chilling True Story


The Big Picture

  • Netflix’s
    Lover, Stalker, Killer
    accurately depicts the disastrous love triangle involving David Kroupa, Cari Farver, and Liz Golyar.
  • Liz Golyar was convicted of first-degree murder and second-degree arson, denying guilt and causing Cari Farver’s reputation to suffer.
  • Efforts have been made to remember Cari Farver positively, including creating a scholarship in her memory, while David Kroupa continues to protect his privacy.

True-crime documentaries have always been good at showing us how passion can reach unhealthy heights of obsession, but there are few that are as chilling and disorienting as Netflix’s Lover, Stalker, Killer. The documentary is a very sensitive and accurate retelling of the tragic events that transpired between 2012 and 2017, but given the surreal nature of the story, it feels far too removed from the reality we know. Indeed, the twisted and macabre love triangle between David Kroupa, Cari Farver and Liz Golyar feels like it was conjured inside the mind of the very best crime-thriller writer. Except, it’s all real. Here’s the true story behind Netflix’s Lover, Stalker, Killer.

Netflix’s ‘Lover, Stalker, Killer’ Accurately Depicts a Disastrous Love Triangle

After getting over his long-term relationship, David Kroupa decided to get into the casual dating pool in 2012. He created a profile for the dating website Plenty of Fish and soon matched with Liz Golyar. The two hit it off instantly, but David stressed the fact that he didn’t want to be tied down, and Liz seemed to be okay with the arrangement. After some time, David matched with someone else, Cari Farver, and started dating her. David and Cari soon grew close, and she often stayed over at David’s apartment since it was near her workplace. One day, Liz showed up at Dave’s apartment to pick up her stuff and crossed paths with Cari. At first sight, it was an innocent, albeit awkward, encounter, where the two women made eye contact for a few seconds, but in hindsight, it’s now clear that it was the moment that would alter the lives of everyone involved.

A few weeks later, Cari texted Dave expressing her wish to move in together. When Dave reminded her of their non-exclusive condition, she grew hostile and started sending a barrage of threats, including “your life will be ruined.” Then, without a trace, Cari seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth. Though no one saw Cari physically, she kept interacting with the world virtually. She quit her job through an email and texted her mom that she was moving to Kansas for a better paying job. But most alarmingly, Cari had 40 different phone numbers and email IDs at her disposal, all of which she used to send menacing threats to Dave. And these weren’t just vague threats. Cari often texted Dave with the details of where he had been and whom he had met, letting him know that he was always being followed around. Cari also sent similar texts to Liz and Dave’s other ex-girlfriend, Amy. But gradually, the virtual threats started escaping into the real world. Amy’s window was smashed, Liz’s car was vandalized, and her whole house was burned down, killing her pets.

What Happened to Cari Farver?

Image via Netflix

Apart from the atmosphere of fear and paranoia, there was also a very disorienting element to the case, since, despite Cari’s near-omnipotent presence in Dave’s life, she was yet to be found. The case finally made some progress in 2015 when Sergeant James Doty decided to approach it from a dead person’s perspective instead of the missing person’s angle. The police had a hunch that Cari was, in fact, murdered and that someone else was using her identity to carry out the threats. With the help of an IT specialist, the police were able to pinpoint a particular IP address from where the majority of texts and emails were being dispatched. The address belonged to Todd Butterbaugh, who happened to be in an on-and-off relationship with Liz. She moved in with Todd after her house burned down. With this new information, all the puzzle pieces started fitting together.

It was Liz who had been impersonating Cari all this time, and she went as far as to burn her own house down to throw the case in the wrong direction. Still, without a body, a weapon, and a crime scene, the police could only prove that Liz was impersonating Cari, and that’s all. So, with a newfound enthusiasm to solve the case, another round of investigation was launched which yielded Cari’s blood stains and Liz’s fingerprints from Cari’s abandoned car. Around this time, Liz filed a police report claiming she was shot in the leg by Dave’s ex-girlfriend, Amy. But since Amy had a solid alibi, it was obvious that Liz had shot herself and was trying to frame Amy, and this helped the police establish a pattern of violent behavior. And finally, a picture of Cari’s foot was found inside Liz’s SD card. All of this combined was enough to build a circumstantial but solid case against Liz, and in 2016, she was finally arrested for stabbing Cari to death and disposing of her body.


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What Happened to Liz Golyar and David Kroupa?

In 2017, Liz was found guilty of first-degree murder and second-degree arson, and she was sentenced to life in prison without parole at Nebraska Correctional Center for Women. In 2018, she applied for a conviction, which was rejected by the court. Despite the definite nature of the sentence, Liz continues to maintain her innocence and insists that the real killer is still out there. Due to Liz’s unyielding stance, the whereabouts of Cari’s body still remains unknown. Liz’s deceitful actions not only robbed Cari of her life but also stained her reputation, falsely painting her as the villain in a twisted narrative. During the case’s early years, Cari was seen as a vindictive and cruel stalker who was mentally unstable. Since Cari was also suffering from Bipolar disorder, the sudden disappearance, the threats, and the acts of menace were seen as a byproduct of her disorder.

But after Cari’s innocence was proved, efforts were made to reestablish her reputation. Most notably, a scholarship fund was created in her memory to support students pursuing education in the IT sector, which was in line with Cari’s own profession as a program analyst. It is a praiseworthy effort that focuses on remembering the victim rather than the culprit. Meanwhile, Dave feels guilty for being at the center of events where “bad things happened to good people.”He now lives a very quiet life in Nebraska with his new partner, Margie Hover. His desire for privacy and a peaceful life is entirely understandable given the trauma he has endured. And while he feels more relaxed about the past as time moves on, Dave still closely protects his phone number and email address. Some scars can never heal.

Lover, Killer, Stalker
is available to stream on Netflix in the US.

Watch on Netflix


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