Lifetime’s October 2022 film The Disappearance of Cari Farver is a ‘ripped from the headlines production’, but the story it chronicles is so bizarre that it seems like a work of fiction. The production tells the story of Cari Farver’s sudden disappearance and the shocking circumstances that led to the discovery of her murder.
Cari Farver’s story is less about her and more about a jealous lover who wasn’t content with killing Cari – she wanted to soil her reputation; to portray Farver as a selfish, obsessive stalker with evil intentions.
Following a delayed investigation, Cari Farver’s killer was brought to justice.
Cari Farver had an instant connection with mechanic Dave Kroupa
Cari Farver met Dave Kroupa at an auto shop where he worked. As Dave inspected Cari’s Ford Explorer, he found a connection with Cari. “She’s showing me something inside the vehicle and we’re standing there, and we’re very close… and there was some tension,” Kroupa told ABC News.
According to family and friends, one couldn’t resist feeling attracted to Cari. “She had a smile,” said her friend, Amy Long. “She lit up a room… You couldn’t help but notice her. You were drawn to her.”
After the couple’s first date, Dave invited Farver back to his apartment. The pair, both single parents, agreed they didn’t want a serious relationship. “I felt like I hit the jackpot with that,” Kroupa said.
As Cari left Dave’s residence, she bumped into Shanna ‘Liz’ Golyar, a woman Dave was previously involved with. Golyar had come to the apartment to pick up things she said she’d left there.
Several days later, Cari moved in with Dave as she tackled a demanding work project. Kroupa’s apartment was just around the block from Cari’s office, where she worked as a computer programmer.
On 13th November 2022, Farver kissed Kroupa as she left for work and told Dave she would see him later. It was the last time Kroupa would ever see Farver.
Several hours later, Dave received a text from Farver stating she wanted to move in with him permanently. The correspondence struck him as odd as the pair had agreed they weren’t moving in together. Kroupa politely replied that he wasn’t interested in living with Cari.
Farver’s reply was anything but polite. “Lots of profanity,” Kroupa described Farver’s texts. “I didn’t know what to think. I was blown away.” Dave didn’t find Farver’s things when he returned home, so he assumed she’d left.
As the crude messages from Farver continued streaming in, Dave opined that he’d dodged a bullet.
Farver disappeared out of the blue and said she’d started a new life
Cari Farver also sent disturbing messages to her mother, Nancy Raney. The texts struck Nancy as strange, as Cari was in such a good place in her life – she was thriving at work, she’d overcome her bipolar disorder diagnosis, and her son, Max, was flourishing in school.
Farver said she’d taken a new job in Kansas and had started a new life. Cari refused to call back, despite insistent pleas from Raney. Nancy reported Farver missing after her daughter failed to attend her half-brother’s wedding.
Raney said that Farver’s bipolar disorder diagnosis affected the police’s investigation into Cari’s disappearance. Leslie Rule, the author of A Tangled Web, a book about the case, told ABC News:
“The police jumped on that and said, ‘Well, this kind of thing happens all the time. When somebody who’s bipolar stops taking their meds, sometimes … they can start some really erratic behavior.’”
Kroupa continued receiving disturbing texts from Cari, as did Liz Golyar, the woman Cari bumped into while leaving Kroupa’s apartment.
Farver continued missing important events, including her birthday, Max’s 15th birthday, and her father’s funeral. Raney continued receiving texts from Cari, but Farver refused to pick up her calls. Farver said she would return to pick Max up but never showed up.
Nancy noted the texts from Farver contained numerous errors, which she considered odd: Farver was ‘a stickler for punctuation and spelling.’
Cari, or someone impersonating her, stepped up the harassment
Farver, or someone pretending to be Farver, stepped up her harassment by adding stalking to her arsenal. Kroupa explained:
“On one specific occasion, I was sitting in my La-Z-Boy with my feet up, watching TV, trying to relax, and it’s nighttime and I get a text saying, ‘I see you. You’re sitting in your chair with your feet propped up, wearing a blue shirt.’ And those things were true.”
In January 2013, Dave saw Cari’s vehicle parked near his home. A search by Omaha police uncovered one fingerprint, which didn’t match anyone in the database, including Cari.
Max participated in the search for his mother by messaging her on Facebook. Someone replied, but Max felt skeptical about the correspondence. Therefore, he asked Cari three personal questions to prove it was her. Cari didn’t respond, suggesting someone else was operating her Facebook account.
Kroupa and Golyar would often receive hostile messages while together. Kroupa said: “It was actually extremely common for us to be… hanging out on a couch, watching TV or something and both of our phones would start blowing up with text messages and emails from Cari.”
Dave alleged that Farver sent him an email threatening to kill Golyar and a link to a fake obituary for Liz. In August 2013, an inferno engulfed Golyar’s house, killing her pets, including a snake, a cat, and two dogs. Liz told police that she suspected Farver was the arsonist.
Kroupa believed he was in danger and bought a 9mm pistol for protection. Dave had cause for concern, as, on top of the crude emails and messages, someone vandalized the auto shop where he worked and threw a brick through his window.
Dave’s ex-girlfriend and mother of his two children, Amy Flora, also started receiving threatening messages from Cari. Jenn Carpenter, the host of So Dead, a podcast that followed the case, said: “It wasn’t just Dave and Liz. It was anyone in Dave’s life, it seemed, Cari headed out for.”
Liz Golyar emerged as a person of interest in the case
Nancy Raney’s efforts to get authorities to investigate Cari’s disappearance paid off in the spring of 2015. Detectives Ryan Avis and Jim Doty volunteered to get to the bottom of Cari Farver’s disappearance. Avis found no evidence that Cari was alive. He told ABC News:
“It’s not normal for adults to just up and leave and literally spend no money. No one’s seen them and no one’s heard their voice… It just didn’t make sense. She had good income, a good house… I had come to the conclusion that I could not prove she was actually alive.”
Doty and Avis found it odd that Golyar was a victim of Cari’s harassment, yet they didn’t know each other before Cari’s disappearance. “She definitely was a person of interest,” Doty said.
With the help of Anthony Kava, a digital forensic administrator at the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office, the detectives combed through content downloaded from Kroupa and Golyar’s phones in 2013. Kava said Farver sent over 50,000 texts and 15,000 emails to Dave in three years. Kava added:
“Whoever was pretending to be Cari … got more and more sophisticated in what they were doing to try to hide their IP address, to try to hide their real identity.”
The police found evidence showing Liz knew where Cari’s vehicle was before investigators did. They also found photos in Liz’s phone that had been sent to Kroupa by Farver or uploaded to the internet under Farver’s name.
Investigators continued finding connections between Farver and Golyar; they matched the fingerprint found in Cari’s car to Golyar. “Granted, [that] didn’t give us any answers on what had happened to Cari, but we knew [that] Liz knew more than she was telling us,” Doty said.
Investigators got Liz to divulge details about Cari Farver’s murder
Perhaps feeling concerned that investigators were closing in, Liz gave them another person to look into: Amy Flora, Dave’s ex. Golyar said she suspected Amy was behind the harassment, not Cari. Surprisingly, Liz agreed to have the contents of her phone downloaded.
Golyar also told police that Dave’s gun, a 9mm Smith and Wesson, was missing. The following day, Liz called 911, claiming someone had shot her as she walked alone in Big Lake Park. Golyar said she suspected Flora was the shooter. Avis said:
“I found it highly suspicious that the day before she felt the need to tell me that Dave Kroupa’s gun had been stolen … and less than 24 hours later, she is shot. It was pretty quickly determined that most likely Liz Golyar had shot herself.”
Golyar’s phone contained a trove of information regarding the harassment operation she’d orchestrated for years. Kava uncovered fake email addresses with some variation of Farver’s name. The investigator also found an app that Golyar used to schedule messages.
It explained how she and Dave would simultaneously receive messages from ‘Cari.’ “She was able to send messages pretending to be Cari, and they would arrive while she was sitting on the couch next to Dave,” Kava said. Kava suspected Golyar spent 40 to 50 hours weekly impersonating Cari.
During an interview two weeks after the shooting, Doty and Avis asked Golyar to question Flora about Cari’s disappearance. The detectives knew Flora had nothing to do with Cari’s vanishing or the harassment.
Golyar fell for the trap: she forwarded messages, which were reportedly from Flora, detailing Farver’s fatal stabbing. “The details were… bone chilling because they were graphic,” Doty said. Liz provided information that only the killer could now – she inadvertently confessed to killing Cari Farver.
Photos of Cari’s dismembered body sealed Liz Golyar’s conviction
Through Golyar’s emails, the police concluded that Cari’s vehicle was a crime scene. After pulling the fabric off the passenger’s seat, they found a stain of blood belonging to Farver.
In late December 2016, Liz Golyar was charged with first-degree murder. Douglas County attorney Brenda Beadle talked to ABC News about the challenge of prosecuting such a bizarre case:
“Most homicides are dark. This one was … bizarre to the point where it would take some convincing to make somebody believe that it actually happened. There’s no way that someone would let their dog die in a fire that they started. There’s no way that someone would shoot themselves in the femur.”
Liz’s attorney, James Martin Davis, hoped the case would crumble as it was principally based on circumstantial evidence. “We waived the jury trial to move it up so I could try this case hopefully before they’d find a body,” Davis said.
Investigators established Liz’s direct connection to the murder by analyzing a memory card she used around the time Cari disappeared. They found it in a tablet Dave had in storage.
Kava recovered the card’s deleted images, including a photo of a human foot with a tattoo. Farver had a similar tattoo on her foot. “It was shocking,” Kava said. “It made me realize that… Liz Golyar killed Cari Farver and she’s taking photos of her body.”
The photo sealed Liz Golyar’s conviction. Judge Timothy Burns found her guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced her to life. He said: “Cari Farver did not voluntarily disappear and drop off the face of the earth. Very sadly, she was murdered.”
Nancy Raney, Cari’s mom, said: “Cari was only 37 when she died. If I could talk to Cari right now, I’d say ‘I love you. I’m so glad that you are in my life. You have a beautiful son who’s got a wonderful life coming, and I miss you terribly.’”
The Disappearance of Cari Farver sheds some light on Liz’s motivation for murder. “At the heart of this movie is Liz’s psychosis,” Executive Producer Linda Berman told Distractify. “I wish we had more time to delve into what kind of mental illness Liz had to perpetrate her actions!”