Review by Lila Funge
What begins as a grieving mother’s search for justice in her daughter’s murder case turns into a story that weaves together gang violence, cyclical poverty, and guilt in the fallout of trauma.
In 2006, Crystal Theobold was murdered – shot dead in her family’s car by the 5150 gang of Riverside, Southern California. Frederick Munk’s new documentary Why Did You Kill Me? explores the aftermath of Crystal’s murder, focusing predominantly on her grieving mother, Belinda. Sadly, gang-related violence is all too common in the area. However, what’s not so common was Belinda’s unique methods in seeking out revenge. She enables the help of her niece, Jaimie, to set up a fake MySpace page to gain information on the gang members she believes were involved. This was not just any MySpace page; they used images of Crystal for the profile and made some of the same gang members who killed her fall in love with her along the way.
Belinda and Jaimie wanted to show these men that Crystal was a beautiful person with goals and aspirations, and they had taken that away forever. Belinda doesn’t share her darker reasons for wanting to find these men; which she later has to come to terms with. Munk brings viewers into the world of the Theobold family with screen-recorded reenactments of MySpace messages Jaimie shared with these men. While this style feels cheesy at first, it soon becomes necessary to show the conversations between Jaimie and the gang members. She aims at building a relationship with them to show them that they had senselessly murdered an innocent woman. However, the plot to catfish these men into confession doesn’t go to plan. This documentary is unlike any other murder docs I have seen– where typically the family sits back to grieve while the detectives do the work. What makes this so much more gripping is that you get to tag along for the investigation, even if the investigation is a little unorthodox. Munk is able to spin the story just right – with each twist and turn you inch a little more towards the edge of your seat. Although this is definitely not a documentary for the faint of heart, it is worth the watch solely for how out of the box it is. With plenty of introspection and collateral damage along the way, Why Did You Kill Me? sums up the pain and madness that follows in the murders’ wake.