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‘Lover, Stalker, Killer’: Disturbing love triangle turned deadly hits Netflix

Click to play video: '‘Lover, Stalker, Killer’ true crime series trailer'
‘Lover, Stalker, Killer’ true crime series trailer
WATCH: Dave Kroupa was recently out of a long-term relationship and eager to restart his romantic life, so he did what most people do: He tried online dating. Liz Golyar and Cari Farver were two of his most promising connections. 'Lover, Stalker, Killer' explores how things went so horribly wrong. – Feb 19, 2024

For years, Dave Kroupa was victim to a relentless and terrifying stalker — always believing it was a woman he had dated for two weeks and attempted to let down gently when she suggested they move in together.

Now, he’s opening up about the harrowing ordeal he survived in Netflix‘s latest true crime offering, Lover, Stalker, Killer, which details the nearly half decade of twisted stalking, arson and murder that was the result of a love triangle gone terribly wrong.

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Kroupa, a single dad, had followed his ex-partner to Nebraska in 2012 to co-parent and be close to his young kids, getting a job as a mechanic and wading into online dating in his spare time.

He began casually dating two women shortly after he arrived in Omaha: Cari Farver and Liz Golyar. He had told both women he wasn’t looking for something serious, and thought that everyone was on the same page.

However, after just two weeks of dating Farver, she went missing the same day he told her via text message that he wasn’t interested in her suggestion that they move in together.

Shortly after, Kroupa and Golyar started to receive an endless stream of threatening text messages from Farver. And while the messages were scary, there was an additional level of confusion and mystery: no one could seem to find Farver. It was as though she had vanished from the real world and existed only in the digital realm.

It didn’t take long for the text threats to escalate into something more dangerous. Eventually, Kroupa’s ex-partner and her children became the target of Farver’s messages and Golyar’s house burned to the ground with her pets inside.

But, still, no trace of Farver. She was nowhere to be found.

Read on to find out more about this mind-boggling case and what happened to Dave Kroupa, Liz Golyar and Cari Farver. (A warning — spoilers below!)

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Dave Kroupa’s backstory

Dave Kroupa and his longtime partner, Amy Flora, met in 2000 while working together and went on to have two children.

After 12 years, they began to grow apart and decided to split. Their relationship was mostly amicable and Kroupa followed his family to Flora’s hometown of Omaha in 2012 to be close to his kids.

Dave Kroupa and ex-partner Amy Flora are pictured with their children. Netflix Still

“I was starting over as a single person,” Kroupa said in Lover, Stalker, Killer of his decision to try online dating.

The connection with Liz Golyar

Shortly after he signed up on Plenty of Fish, Kroupa connected with Shanna (Liz) Golyar.

They went on a few dates and Kroupa described her as “very smiley, very energetic, very full of life.”

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The two shared interests in motorcycles and heavy metal and they both had two children from previous relationships.

“It was exactly the right mix: I had my personal space, but there was someone around if I wanted to chat or hang out,” Kroupa said. “It was exactly what I needed at that part of my life.”

Dave Kroupa appears in a production still from ‘Lover, Stalker, Killer.’. Netflix

The two began dating semi-regularly.

Cari Farver enters the picture

As Kroupa was establishing himself in Omaha, enjoying his work as a mechanic, spending time with his kids and continuing to date Golyar, Farver came into his life.

She showed up at his auto shop one day, looking to have her car fixed, and Kroupa instantly felt a connection. When he saw her profile on the dating site a few weeks later, he reached out and they went on their first date.

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The date was so successful that Kroupa invited Farver back to his apartment that night. Golyar showed up later to retrieve some of her stuff and Kroupa awkwardly explained to Farver the situation. As she left, she passed by Golyar on her way out of the building, exchanging a short glance of only a few seconds.

Cari Farver and Dave Kroupa shared a quick connection, but it only lasted for two weeks. The Cari Farver Memorial Scholarship / Facebook

It was a seconds-long encounter that would set the stage for the next four horrific years.

The harassment begins

Kroupa and Farver saw a lot of each other over the next two weeks. Farver worked just a few blocks from Kroupa’s apartment and spent the night with him several times.

One morning, Kroupa got up for work, giving Farver a kiss goodbye as he left. A few hours later, she texted him, asking if they should move in together.

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“I thought we talked about this,” he replied, recalling that they had agreed to keep things casual.

The rejection triggered a nasty response from Farver, who sent a barrage of hurtful and angry texts Kroupa’s way.

“I’m going to destroy the things you care about,” one message read. “Your life will be ruined for ruining mine.”

She said she never wanted to see him again, and although Kroupa said he was “a little sad” things didn’t work out, he naively thought that was the end of the relationship.

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The beginning of a nightmare

Soon, Kroupa and Golyar both began receiving threatening texts from Farver’s phone.

Meanwhile, Farver’s mother, Nancy Raney, had no idea this was happening. She was, however, concerned that she hadn’t had much contact with her daughter, save for a text from Farver that said she was moving to Kansas for a new job and would be leaving her son, Max, with her mother.

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Raney soon filed a missing report for her daughter, which brought police into the fold.

Investigators, at first, attributed Farver’s disappearance to a “mental health crisis,” noting that she had previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression.

Meanwhile, Kroupa and Golyar had rekindled their romance, partly out of fear, and were leaning on each other as comfort. As they spent time together, they would receive harassing text messages and emails from Farver at the same time — often with specific details that led them to believe they were being watched.

Soon after, Golyar’s car was deeply keyed and she showed Kroupa a photo of the damage to the vehicle.

The threats escalate

It wasn’t long before Kroupa was receiving dozens of texts and hundreds of emails per day. He received an email that included photos from inside Golyar’s house, suggesting Farver was entering his girlfriend’s home when she wasn’t around. It reached a tipping point when he received a photo from inside Golyar’s garage, where the word “whore” had been spray-painted on the wall.

The promotional poster for Netflix documentary ‘Lover, Stalker, Killer.’. Netflix

Kroupa finally went to police in late November 2012.

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“I felt like Liz was being harassed because I dated this woman who’s now making her life hell too,” Kroupa said in Lover, Stalker, Killer. “I felt like she was the real victim in all of things and I wanted to try to protect her. We felt safe together and our relationship rekindled.”

Police try to locate Farver

As Farver’s harassment campaign escalated, police began digging into the case.

At this point, Farver had left her teen son in her mother’s care, refused to speak to anyone over the phone, had missed her brother’s wedding and father’s funeral and wasn’t heard from outside of the threats to Kroupa and Golyar.

Most peculiar, however, was that her bank accounts were going untouched.

In January 2013, Kroupa reported to police that he had seen Farver’s car in a parking lot. Around this time she had also started to harass Kroupa’s ex Flora and their children, and both Kroupa and Golyar reported more vandalism to their homes and vehicles.

After Kroupa reported that one of her home’s windows had been smashed and clothing strewn around her bedroom had been “stabbed and slashed with a knife, like murder-style,” detectives agreed that there was probable cause to arrest Farver for stalking, but they still couldn’t find her.

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“I was on the road to having a mental breakdown,” Kroupa explained in the documentary. “The paranoia is your life. You’re thinking about the ‘what-ifs’ all the time. It was hard to know sometimes what was real and what I was imagining.”

Golyar exits the picture

In August 2013, Golyar’s house burned to the ground, taking with it her pets and all her possessions. She and her kids were spared any injury, but Golyar left town and didn’t tell Kroupa where she was heading.

Kroupa, feeling more alone and desolate than ever, decided the safest thing to do was move. He changed his number, too.

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“I wanted to rebuild my life away from Cari, but in the back of my mind, I knew that she was still out there.”

While trying to rebuild his life, once again, he got back into online dating on a new platform. It didn’t take long for Farver to find him on there, and with access to his new phone number, the stalking continued.

A big break in the case

By 2015, Farver’s reign of terror was escalating, despite not having been seen for more than two years.

In Iowa, two Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office investigators, Ryan Avis and Jim Doty, took an interest in the case and began to dig.

Officers found it odd that Farver’s home remained intact and that her bank accounts had gone untouched for so long. They began to consider that perhaps Farver wasn’t alive.

“It’s not normal for adults to just up and leave and literally spend no money. No one’s seen them and no one’s heard their voice…. it just didn’t make sense,” Avis told ABC News. “I had come to the conclusion that I could not prove she was actually alive.”

A production still shows Polaroid photos of Cari Farver’s untouched home. Netflix

Turning to the help of an IT specialist, who painstakingly combed through IP addresses and metadata of the thousands of messages ever sent to Kroupa and Flora, they were able to track the bulk of the messages to a home in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

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The home’s owner, Todd Butterbaugh, told investigators that his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Liz Golyar, had moved in with him after her house burned down.

A pivot in the investigation

After the shocking revelation, Avis and Doty took what they had learned to Kroupa. They told him that Golyar had been impersonating Farver for years, going so far as to burn down her own house in an attempt to ruin Kroupa’s life.

“It didn’t take me long, checking the boxes in my head, to figure out that Cari was probably dead,” Kroupa said in the documentary. “And that’s tough to swallow. That’s beyond tough.”

The story unravels

As the police were beginning to make real strides in their investigation, but before they had enough evidence to arrest Golyar, Kroupa returned home one night to find a gun he had acquired to keep his family safe had been stolen from the top shelf of his closet.

Golyar, meanwhile, was meeting with the investigators, claiming she was being harassed by Kroupa’s ex Flora. While attempting to file the complaint, she described Kroupa’s gun in detail and blamed Flora for stealing it.

A day later, Golyar called 911 to report that she had been shot in the leg at a park in Iowa.

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“I found it highly suspicious that the day before she felt the need to tell me that Dave Kroupa’s gun had been stolen … and less than 24 hours later, she is shot,” Avis told ABC News. “It was pretty quickly determined that most likely Liz Golyar had shot herself.”

Police, who had obtained permission from Golyar to search her phone, found a photo of Farver’s car, which was taken on Christmas Eve 2012. Searching her car, once again, they found one of Golyar’s fingerprints on a container of mints that had been in the car’s centre console. A tracker they had installed on Golyar’s car showed that she had been circling Flora’s home every day.

A production still images shows a recreation of investigators examining Cari Farver’s car. Netflix

Two weeks after the shooting, Avis and Doty brought Golyar in for more questioning, but changed tactics. They decided they would pretend to go along with Golyar’s story of the events in question, in the hope it would lead to more details about Farver’s disappearance.

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When Golyar pressed the police to do more to arrest Flora for the shooting, the officers told her they needed more proof that Flora was the one behind the harassment and shooting.

Golyar, believing the cops were on her side, fell for it. She began forwarding emails to the detectives that were purportedly from Flora and contained explicit details about Farver’s murder. The emails described Farver being stabbed to death, burned and tossed in a dumpster.

Turning once again to Farver’s car, police found a large pool of dried blood underneath the fabric of the passenger’s seat.

The blood, combined with Golyar’s fingerprint, was the evidence they needed. Golyar was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

One last piece of evidence

Because Farver’s body had never been located, investigators knew the trial would be a toss-up. Without human remains or a murder weapon, the verdict could go either way.

In a last-ditch effort to dig up more dirt on Golyar, they turned once again to Kroupa, asking him if there were any old electronics he had that might contain any kind of evidence.

Kroupa managed to fish an old tablet out of his storage locker and turned it over. On a micro SD card found in the tablet were 11,000 previously deleted photos, which included selfies Golyar had taken around the time Farver went missing.

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Most damning, however, was a photo of a foot of a dead body. A tattoo on the foot matched the Chinese character that Farver had.

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Girl missing for 6 years found after being recognized on ‘Unsolved Mysteries’

The case goes to trial

“We were all worried there was every possibility (Golyar) could walk out of there,” prosecutor Brenda Beadle shared in the documentary.

However, despite the lack of a murder weapon or body, the jury was convinced by the detectives’ digital and blood evidence and found Golyar guilty of first-degree murder.

On Dec. 16, 2016, she was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. The judge also handed her an additional sentence of 18 to 20 years for trying to frame Farver for burning down her home.

Liz Golyar poses for her mugshot.
Liz Golyar poses for her mugshot. Nebraska Correctional Center for Women

She now resides in the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women.

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Justice for Farver — and regrets for Kroupa

“Everyone’s perception of (Cari) has been completely distorted by the fact that somebody hijacked her identity,” director Sam Hobkinson says. “One of the things that I hope the film does is somehow cement her true identity.”

Kroupa is now trying to keep a low profile — he doesn’t give out his email address or phone number much anymore — and says he struggles with the guilt of Farver’s death, acknowledging that if they hadn’t met she would probably still be alive.

“I don’t feel blameless in all of this. A lot of bad things happened to good people, all because of a series of events that I’m at the centre of,” he explained in the documentary. “The woman that I dated had goals, and was smiley and wanted to do something. She was just trying to make her way in this world.”

“I’m very sorry for what happened,” he said. “If I hadn’t met Cari, she wouldn’t have met Liz and this all wouldn’t have happened. If I’d have known the choice was this craziness or tell Cari I’m not interested, I would’ve told Cari I’m not interested. But you don’t get that choice.”

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‘Lover, Stalker, Killer’ is available for streaming on Netflix Canada.

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