Lover, Stalker, Killer is a polished, smart, and concisely written tale from the American heartland—one that focuses on individuals who witnessed the core crime rather than the perpetrator.
According to Kroupa, the first person he matched with was a woman called Liz Golyar. Despite their connection, he made it apparent that he was not interested in a committed relationship, according to Kroupa in one of Lover, Stalker, Killer’s many talking-head interviews. That unwillingness to be tied down persisted six months into the relationship, when Cari Farver stepped into his repair shop. Kroupa was instantly attracted to Farver and asked her out on the spot.
According to Kroupa, they returned to his house on their first date. However, when Farver left after their evening together, he claims she passed Golyar immediately outside Kroupa’s flat. Kroupa didn’t worry about the overlap because both women knew he intended to be a lone wolf. He maintained communication with both women. But two weeks later, he claims Farver texted him suggesting they move in together. He declined, to which she replied, “Fine.” I absolutely despise you. I am dating someone else. I do not want to see you anymore. “Go away.”
That was the first of tens of thousands of texts—many of them nasty, obscene, and cruel—sent in Farver’s name to Kroupa, Amy Flora, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his two children, and others in their orbit during the next few years. The messages also targeted Golyar, who over the next few years had her home broken into, vandalised, and burned down while her pets were inside. Farver admitted to doing it all in messages to Golyar and Kroupa, and she threatened Golyar’s and her children’s lives.
Police were unable to locate Farver, resulting in a “classic psychological thriller,” according to Hobkinson. Hobkinson and producer Dov Freedman had never heard of the Farver case until it was proposed to them as a potential production. However, with all of the events set out, they felt it might be presented as a film similar to Jane Fonda’s thriller Klute from 1971. “There might be criticism of that as a documentary,” said Hobkinson. “But I didn’t want to be apologetic about that.”
The film’s more dramatic components include visual references to Japanese horror films, a Brian De Palma-worthy score, and numerous reenactments, many of which include Kroupa as himself. The ethics of reenactments are hotly debated in the media industry, with many claiming that they are harmful to persons who have suffered murders. Hobkinson is well aware of that talk, stating that “as soon as we sat down with Dave, we understood that this is not somebody who is going to be traumatised by reliving this.”
Part of that resiliency stems from the passage of time. The texts began arriving in 2012, and by 2017, the saga had concluded. So by the time Lover, Stalker, Killer began filming, Kroupa had told his tale several times and had even been to some of the locations where the stalking and harassment occurred. “We filmed in the same apartment complex where he went through it all,” Hobkinson said. “That was something that we didn’t take particularly lightly.”
The film veers away from the standard thriller format once the true nature of the texts has been revealed. After detectives at a nearby sheriff’s department caught wind of the case, they enlisted a county worker with digital expertise. He was able to determine that the texts, emails, and other messages sent under Farver’s name weren’t from her at all. In fact, the expert surmised they’d been sent by someone who’d killed Farver—and told her mother, Nancy Raney, as much.
“At that point, our focus needed to shift back to restoring Cari and her character,” Freedman writes, saying that Raney and other members of Farver’s family were also tormented while rumours of threats against Golyar and Kroupa circulated.
It’s a twist that may appear abrupt or rushed to those who anticipate a true crime film to follow the usual arc, which shifts the focus from the victim to the perpetrator. The arrest and first-degree murder conviction of the individual police claim was also responsible for years of vandalism and harassment occurs in the documentary’s final few minutes, and we never learn their motivations or hear directly from them.
Hobkinson and Freedman claim they contacted the prison where Farver’s killer is being held, but were almost relieved when their request for an interview was denied. “You’re dealing with the memory of someone who has been perverted,” Hobkinson says of Farver. He intended the film’s last act to assist restore her reputation rather than focusing on the person who impersonated and killed her.