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Dave Kroupa thought he had found a great match – until the Omaha, Nebraska mechanic soon found himself in a real life “Fatal Attraction” situation more bizarre than any movie.
It began in the fall of 2012 when Kroupa was struck by a “gorgeous” woman who came to the counter at his auto repair shop to get her SUV fixed. There were sparks between the pair, but Kroupa was at work, representing his company, and didn’t feel like he could make a move.
But weeks later, when he stumbled upon the same woman on a dating site, he reached out her and learned her name was Cari Farver. When Farver returned to his auto repair shop soon after, the pair exchanged numbers and made plans to grab dinner.
“We were very, I would say, enthralled with each other,” Kroupa recalled to “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered,” airing Wednesdays at 8/7c on Oxygen, of their first date together.
They agreed to go back to his apartment, but just after they arrived, Kroupa’s ex-girlfriend Liz showed up to collect some of her stuff.
While it made for an awkward few moments, Kroupa said that Farver didn’t seem fazed. She told him it was “not a big deal" and just told him to call when he had everything sorted out.
When Kroupa called her later, she invited him to her place. But before the romance turned physical, Farver cautioned that she wasn’t looking for a serious relationship.
Kroupa felt as though he had “hit the Powerball” because he had felt the exact same way.
“As a man, I’m always looking for companionship so I’m always looking for a girlfriend, but never a committed relationship,” he explained to "Dateline" correspondent Keith Morrison.
Feeling now as though he had met a kindred spirit, the romance between Farver, a single mom, and Kroupa started to grow.
“She was extremely intelligent, she was much smarter than I am,” Kroupa recalled.
Farver worked close to Kroupa’s apartment as a computer programmer at West Corporation, and the pair began to regularly meet up at his place. A few weeks into the relationship, she told Kroupa she had a big project at work and asked to stay at his place for a few days rather than drive an hour back to her place each night in the country.
The romance was going so well, Kroupa began to reconsider his no-commitment rule.
“With Cari, there was potential of that long term. It might have been different,” he said.
But just hours after leaving her at his apartment in early November 2012, he was surprised to get a text from Farver asking whether he thought they should move in together.
When Kroupa shot down the suggestion, the tone of the relationship quickly shifted.
“As soon as I text her back, I get a text back that says, ‘Fine, I don’t ever want to see you again, go away, I’m dating somebody else, I hate you,’ on and on and on,” Kroupa said.
He initially believed that was the end of it but in the days and weeks — and then years — that would follow, Kroupa began receiving a series of bizarre and threatening texts and emails from accounts linked to Farver. Some even focused on the ex-girlfriend of his, Shanna “Liz” Golyar.
“She’s a whore you shouldnt be with someone like that,” one read.
Farver seemed to be watching Kroupa and sent eerie messages telling him that she still had a spare key to his apartment and often let herself in when he wasn’t home.
The harassment seemingly extended to Golyar as well, who told police she discovered the words “whore from dave” painted on the wall of her garage. It seemed that Farver even created a fake obituary for Golyar.
Farver’s family was also concerned. Farver had initially told her mom, Nancy Raney, and teenage son, Max, that she was going to spend a few days in Omaha with a man named Dave so that she could be closer to work. Yet, just days later, Raney got her own set of bizarre messages from Farver, saying that she had quit her job and was suddenly moving from her home in Macedonia, Iowa to Kansas.
“It was totally off the wall,” Raney recalled to “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered.”
Raney knew her daughter struggled with bipolar disorder, but she had been taking medication and doing well.
“She was in a very good place. I mean, she had been for a very long time,” she said.
As the months slipped by, Farver failed to show up to family events, including her father’s funeral, or call any of her family members, despite their pleas, choosing instead to only communicate — on occasion — through electronic means.
“I wasn’t sure what was going on but I just knew something was wrong,” her son Max said.
Raney had filed a missing person’s report with the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office, but initially authorities felt there was nothing they could do about a grown woman who had simply chosen to drop out of her life. To police in Omaha, Farver had become a disturbed stalker. But authorities in either state were still unable to physically speak with Farver, although she had texted a detective from Pottawattamie County asking to be left alone.
The harassment toward Kroupa was only intensifying. In one message, Farver claimed to have kidnapped Golyar, in another she said she was planning to move into a building in Kroupa’s same apartment complex.
Then that winter, Kroupa found Farver’s SUV abandoned in the parking lot of the apartment complex. Authorities impounded it and discovered the vehicle was mostly clean, except for a mint container in the cup holder with an unknown finger print.
On August 17, 2013, Golyar frantically called Kroupa to say her house had been set on fire and her pets, including two dogs, a cat, and pet snake, all perished in the blaze.
“I am not lying I set that nasty whores house on fire,” a message from an account linked to Farver read. “I hope the whore and her kids die in it.”
For a while, the harassment brought Kroupa and Golyar closer together and the pair rekindled their romance.
Kroupa repeatedly tried to change his phone number and moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa in February 2015 to try to escape the abuse. By then, the romance between Kroupa and Golyar was dying down and the harassment seemed to be tapering off — except Kroupa discovered one day that one of his guns had been stolen from his apartment.
Around the same time, in April 2015, Pottawattamie County Detective Ryan Avis and investigator Jim Doty became intrigued with the case and questioned whether Farver — who had continued to elude authorities and her family for years — was alive after all.
The pair decided to approach the investigation through a unique lens. While Avis would work the case as if Farver was alive until he came to a dead end, Avis would approach the case as if Farver was dead.
“There’s things that would lead us to both conclusions,” Doty explained. “You know, she’s still active, sending text messages and sending pictures so maybe she’s alive but she’s also missed so many significant events and hadn’t been physically seen by anybody.”
They started back at square one, diving into mountains of digital evidence and records.
Investigators would finally get the break they needed when Avis noticed Golyar in the station one day. She was filing a harassment report, but this time it wasn’t against Farver: It was against Kroupa’s ex-girlfriend and mother of his two children, Amy Flora.
Golyar claimed Flora had also been stalking her on Facebook and said she started to realize that maybe Farver had never been stalking her and Kroupa at all. She suggested the culprit had really been Flora, who disguised herself as Farver.
“Like I said, they only dated for two weeks and I don’t understand why a person would still be stalking him almost three years later,” Golyar said in an interview with Avis. “I would find it more reasonable to believe that his kids’ mom is the one.”
Just one day later, the case would take another stunning turn when Golyar placed a frantic 911 call, reporting that she had been shot in the leg at Big Lake Park. She suggested her attacker had been Flora, but investigators would reach any entirely different conclusion.
After diving into the evidence, investigators began to put the pieces together in the baffling case. They too determined that Farver had never been the one stalking Kroupa and believed that she had likely been killed by the real culprit back in 2012 while she was staying in Kroupa’s home.
They found evidence suggesting Golyar — not Flora — had been the one impersonating Farver all these years in a jealous attempt to win back Kroupa’s affection.
Investigators found Golyar’s fingerprint on that mint container in Farver’s abandoned car and were able to determine that the bizarre and threatening messages had originated from Golyar herself.
Golyar was arrested for Farver’s murder in December 2016.
“The best part of it was being able to go to Nancy and tell her we’ve arrested somebody for the murder of your daughter,” Doty said. ”That was what made working this whole case worth it.”
While the case was mostly circumstantial at that point, just before it ever went to trial investigators would uncover a memory card linked to Golyar that contained a disturbing photo. The photo appeared to show the foot of a dead body, with the same distinctive tattoo Farver had on her foot.
With the help of the new evidence, Golyar was convicted and sentenced to life behind bars.
“It was just a total relief to me and I just started crying,” Raney said of finally finding justice for her daughter.
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