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Real-Life Fatal Attraction: Nebraska Love Triangle Turns Deadly

Dave Kroupa — who tells his story in the new Netflix documentary "Lover, Stalker, Killer" — never expected that a woman he met online would harass him for years

<p>Netflix; Nebraska Department of Correctional Services</p> From left, Cari Farver, Dave Kroupa and Liz Golyar

Netflix; Nebraska Department of Correctional Services

From left, Cari Farver, Dave Kroupa and Liz Golyar

Leaving for work around 6:30 a.m. on a chilly fall morning in 2012, Omaha auto repair shop manager Dave Kroupa said goodbye to Cari Farver, a single mother he had been dating for two weeks. Farver, who planned to head to work at a telecommunications company, had made it clear that she wasn’t looking for a serious relationship. So later that morning when Kroupa received a text message from her—“Do you want to move in together now?”—it came as a puzzling surprise.

“I was like, ‘What the hell?’ ” recalls Kroupa, 47, who was busy at work and wrote a dismissive reply. That apparently uncorked a well of anger in Farver, who replied: “I hate you.” “You ruined my life.” “I never want to see you again.”

“All morning my text messages were pinging, pinging, pinging, and it’s all this nasty stuff,” says Kroupa, who was annoyed but also relieved to have discovered so quickly that Farver—whom he would never see again—was not the woman for him. “I’m thinking, ‘Wow, I dodged a bullet.’ ”

But nothing could have been further from the truth. Over the next four years Kroupa became the target of a campaign of terror. He received more than 18,000 intimidating emails and some 50,000 texts from accounts associated with Farver. He also was deluged with phone calls and threats against his on-again, off-again lover Shanna “Liz” Golyar as well as his former partner Amy Flora and the two children they share.

The harassment resulted in vandalism, burglary, arson—and a murder. Kroupa moved out of state and changed his phone number and email address but could not escape his stalker until police made a shocking arrest in 2016. Now Kroupa is telling his story in the new Netflix documentary Lover, Stalker, Killer, premiering Feb. 9. “She ruined my life,” he tells PEOPLE, “as much as you can without actually killing me.”

***

In early 2012, Kroupa moved from Wisconsin to Nebraska after getting out of a long-term relationship and decided to give online dating a try.

Within days he met Golyar, a housekeeper who was also recently single and the mother of two children close in age to Kroupa’s. They dated on and off for about six months, Kroupa says, until Cari Farver, a customer at the garage where he worked, accepted his invitation to have a drink with him. “There was definitely a spark there,” says Kroupa. But the night of their first date, as Kroupa and Farver made their way back to his apartment after drinks, Farver passed Golyar, who had stopped by Kroupa’s place unexpectedly, as she was leaving the apartment.

Related: Upcoming Netflix Doc Lover Stalker Killer Goes In-Depth on Disturbing Story of Digital Love Triangle-Turned-Deadly

<p>Netflix</p> Dave Kroupa and Liz Golyar

Netflix

Dave Kroupa and Liz Golyar

That encounter would radically change the course of three lives. Farver was reported missing to police by her family, having vanished without a trace, leaving her bank accounts untouched and her teenage son Max in her mother’s care. But Farver’s harassment campaign against Kroupa continued—resulting in thousands of hang-up calls to his work and home.

Soon Golyar, whom Kroupa continued to date, was also receiving frightening messages. “We’d be hanging out on a Saturday, and both of our emails would start blowing up at the same time,” says Kroupa.

Eventually those threats of violence turned real. In late 2012 someone claiming to be Farver began vandalizing cars and property owned by Kroupa and Golyar, and in 2013 Golyar’s house was burned down, killing her pet dogs, a cat and a snake. Frightened for his safety, Kroupa, whose apartment had been mysteriously burgled that year, moved away for a fresh start in a new city, but after he posted his photo on a dating website, his tormentor found him, and the harassment continued.

Police were unable to pinpoint the source of the messages, despite the fact that the texts made it clear the person sending them was often within sight of Kroupa, Golyar, his former partner Flora and their two children. Kroupa believed the case had gone cold—but the dangerous behavior escalated.

In April 2015, Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Office detectives Ryan Avis and Jim Doty began looking into Farver’s disappearance and came to the devastating conclusion that she had most likely been dead since that fateful day in Nov. 2012, when the text messages to Kroupa began. 

<p>Netflix</p> Sgt. Jim Doty

Netflix

Sgt. Jim Doty

After coming to this conclusion, they began to look at the slew of emails and texts seemingly sent by Farver, and with the help of digital forensic specialist Anthony Kava, they traced thousands of the messages to a single IP address linked to a surprising source: Liz Golyar.

“This is a once-in-a-career type of case,” Doty, who is now a sergeant at the department, tells PEOPLE. “I think Liz was stone-cold. Anything she did to show kindness was an act and she had an ulterior motive to get something she wanted out of it. I think deep down, she's just evil and cold.” 

Although they knew Golyar was the culprit, detectives didn’t have enough evidence to arrest her immediately. But in Dec. 2015, Golyar unsuspectingly helped make the case against herself when she was shot in the leg and blamed Flora, who she claimed was now harassing her too. The officers quickly discovered that Golyar shot herself and was trying to frame Flora in the same way she framed Farver for years.

<p>Netflix; Pottawattomie County Sheriff's Office; Netflix (2)</p> Top left: Liz Golyar's house after it was set on fire. Top right: Dried blood found under Cari Farver's seat covers in her vehicle. Bottom right: Kroupa’s stalker left menacing messages scrawled on the walls of his home. Bottom right: Detectives recovered deleted photos from an SD card, including one of a decomposing foot with a tattoo like Farver had

For more on Dave Kroupa's story, subscribe now to PEOPLE, or pick up this week's issue, on newsstands Friday.

Armed with a slew of search warrants, investigators found communications software that allowed Golyar to mask her identity for years and to schedule texts and emails in advance in an effort to impersonate Farver. Even more troubling was the grisly evidence they unearthed pointing to Golyar’s involvement in the sudden disappearance—and murder—of Farver, her romantic rival. Detectives told Kroupa that Golyar was responsible for the years of harassment and for murdering Farver.

<p>RYAN SODERLIN/THE WORLD-HERALD</p> Liz Golya at the Douglas County courthouse in Omaha on May 10, 2017

RYAN SODERLIN/THE WORLD-HERALD

Liz Golya at the Douglas County courthouse in Omaha on May 10, 2017

Farver's body was never found, but authorities believe Farver was killed within days of the 2012 fateful encounter in Kroupa’s apartment building. “Up till then, every time Cari’s name came up I wanted to throw up,” says Kroupa. “Then to learn that she’s not only not at fault, but she’s been murdered? And Liz, the person who I leaned on, was responsible for killing Cari? It’s still hard to even process.”

<p>Nebraska Department of Correctional Services / PCSO</p> Liz Golyar's mug shot

Nebraska Department of Correctional Services / PCSO

Liz Golyar's mug shot

Golyar was convicted of first-degree murder and second-degree arson at trial in 2017 and sentenced to life without parole plus 20 years for arson.

“To us as detectives, it's a win because we have somebody behind bars, but at the same time, we're also telling a mother that her daughter has been killed,” Doty says. “It's a very sad outcome for [Cari's mother]. I'm sure there was a part of her that still had hope that maybe Cari would come back someday. It wasn't a joyous occasion by any means.”

<p>Netflix</p> Dave Kroupa

Netflix

Dave Kroupa

According to Kroupa’s current girlfriend Margie Hover, who lives with him in Nebraska, it was only on a trip to California that she noticed Kroupa was finally able to relax. “He said, ‘I don’t have to be looking over my shoulder,’ ” she tells PEOPLE.

Still, Kroupa closely guards his phone number and email address. “I don’t mind watching a movie with a terrible twist,” he says, “but I never want that in my life again."

Lover, Stalker, Killer premieres Friday, Feb. 9 on Netflix.

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