Before TikTok, Snapchat, and Facebook, there was MySpace. I say it like that because many of you reading this now, especially those under 35, probably did not have a social profile listed on there.
In 2006, MySpace was at its peak popularity, with millions of profiles actively connecting online. One of these profiles was that of a beautiful girl who went by “Angel”. Her A/S/L (age, sex, location) was that of a twenty-something female, who was living near LA, California.
The only difference between Angel and the million other profiles is that her profile was created after she died, murdered on February 24, 2006.
Crystal Theobald was taken too soon. A beautiful woman, a mother of two, and barely 24-years-old, yet with an entrepreneurial spirit that was contagious. Crystal was going places and everyone knew it.
Unfortunately, on the night of February 24, 2006, Crystal was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The shooting on the 6600 block of Geranium Place happened quickly.Crystal was the passenger in a two-door Honda not made for the barrage of bullets that peppered its light frame.
A gunman shot crystal point blank in the head and she died several minutes later. Her boyfriend sitting next to Crystal in the driver’s seat, 20-year-old Juan Patlan, was shot once in the abdomen. Juan would survive.
Justin Theobald, Crystal’s brother and the oldest in the car at 28, was not hit at all. The gunmen’s bullets were aimed in the front cabin, not the backseats.
Up ahead was Crystal’s mother, Belinda Lane, who turned her car around in time to witness her daughter’s life snuffed out by two thugs with semi-automatic pistols.
It was the muzzle flashes, along with a little illumination from the corner’s street post that provided the desperate mother the seconds needed see two shooters speed off in a white Ford Expedition SUV.
From this night forth, Belinda Lane would do anything to find out who owned that car.
Gang-related shootings are not just something we see in movies and police dramas. Especially in some ‘barrios’ in California, gang incidents and crime often run rampant, enveloping fear in local neighborhoods and costing taxpayers millions to clean up.
Gangs infest neighborhoods like disease-ridden rats infest sewage pipes. These despicable human forms manifest themselves in thugs like Julio Caesar Heredia and William “Jokes” Sotelo; Crystal Theobald’s killers.
Heredia and Sotelo were a part of an LA Sierra-based gang who were pissed off because one of the rival gang members, also human trash, shot at their car earlier in the day.
Deciding they wanted to appear tough, the two knuckleheads drove around and try to spot the two-door Honda of the rival gang member. It was Sotelo’s white SUV that the Theobald family passed that evening, as the survivors recalled the gang members standing beside their cars.
William Sotelo, not knowing that not just gang-bangers drive Hondas, followed the Theobald’s car through Arlanza, a local neighborhood. Once they found the perfect opportunity, both Soleto and Julio Heredia approached the car, pulled out their pistols, and unloaded their clips.
One of these slugs would fatally lodge into Crystal Theobald’s brain, killing her within minutes.
Why Did You Murder Me?
Desperate for answers and justice, Belinda Lane took to the popular social media website MySpace where she created a fake profile using one of Crystal’s actual photos.
Calling herself “Angel”, and in one trial account “Rebecca”, Lane infiltrated the inner workings of the Arlanza-based Varrio 5150 street gang. Lane piqued the interest of anyone who may have information about Crystal’s murder.
Chillingly, doing this led Belinda not only to William “Jokes” Sotelo’s MySpace profile, but also his cell-phone number, which she then used to her advantage.
“hey what upp im new to myspace and i found ure myspacee. u look
hott we should chill sometime u would like me and my friends,”
“hey they call me jokes from varrio 5150×3 south side but my
real name is William,”
Belinda knew she had one of her daughter’s killers.Appealing to the party side of the men she was baiting for information, Belinda “Angel” started to advertise an “End of the World Party”, which would have plenty of strippers and booze.
However, do to her own safety, “Angel” let all interested parties know that in order to attend they would have to disclose personal information about themselves.
As the date of the party approached, June 6, 2006, Angel set up a meet-up with Soleto.Sensing that she may get herself in extreme danger dealing with a gang member, she wisely took all the information she gathered from MySpace and went to the police.
On June 5, 2006 ended a post from Angel saying “why did you murder me?” - also used for the title of the Netflix premier documenting this case.
As it turned out, these “so called thugs” would just as easily turn against their own gang and it’s members to save their own hides. And this is exactly what happened when Sotelo was questioned by police.
In the voluntary interview with William Soleto, we learn that both Caesar Heredia and himself shot at the two-door Honda the night of February 24, 2006.
He was the first one that gave us the clearest insight, and
then other pieces began falling into place,” Detective Rick Wheeler said. “He laid
out quite a bit of the shooting to us … others who testified.”
Sotelo’s ratting help the police, along with the District Attorney Paul Zellerbach, put Caesar Heredia in prison for the rest of his life.
Detectives also learned that Sotelo, 17 at the time of the murder, was the driver of the white Ford Expedition, a car that he owned.
At first Sotelo was facing first-degree murder charges, but the DA dropped those charges after he accepted a plea deal to implement his own partner in the crime, receiving a mere 22 years in prison on January 23, 2020.
Crystal’s mother Belinda during her victim impact statement berated the low-life calling him a “coward”, a “monster”, a “despicable” man and a “punk”.
She ended by telling Sotelo that she hoped gang members “snuff your life out”, which has a high possibility for any inmate who snitched on his own gang.
Good riddance, and good luck. You’ll need it.
The State of California convicted Heredia in 2011 of murder, attempted murder, and other charges. Sotelo also ratted-out other friends too, implementing at least ten of them, which eventually served minor prison sentences.
Fled to Mexico
William Sotelo fled the country soon after his interview with detectives and was arrested several years later on May 6, 2016, by Mexican State Police.
The Mexican Police also had no use for the murdering vermin, so they quickly extradited Soleto back to the United States.
A Change of Heart
In a remarkable conclusion, Belinda Lane had a change of heart and asked the DA Paul Zellerbach not to seek capital punishment charges on Haredia.
Accepting the mother’s wishes, Zellerbach charges and won the conviction of 138 years to life in prison on Heredia with no possibility of parole.
“Why didn’t that family support system keep him from joining one
of the most notorious, violent criminal street gangs in Riverside
County? … Mr. Heredia is not a good person, he is a violent,
cold-blooded murderer, and he is going to pay a price for what he
has done,” Thierbach said before imposing the sentences.
Saved Others in Death
Crystal Theobald is deceased, murdered, taken to soon, and there is nothing that can bring her back. However, in death, she is helping five other righteous people live longer lives after a donation of her heart, lungs, and both kidneys.
She is gone, but now others can live on.