A 10-year-old social media campaign by a dedicated and watchful mother, Belinda Lane, led to the arrest of William Sotelo, 28. William was the last remaining suspect in the 2006 killing of her daughter, Crystal Theobald. According to reports, Crystal was killed because she was mistaken for a rival gang member.
According to Fox News, William Sotelo was driving the vehicle in Riverside, California, when his fellow gang members opened fire on another car, killing the 24-year-old mother of two. Crystal Theobald’s boyfriend and brother were also in the vehicle. Authorities said Crystal’s boyfriend received a nonfatal wound to the stomach and her brother was unharmed.
Belinda Lane said she made a promise to her daughter that she would not rest until she found those who took her away. “I told her, baby girl, I promise you if it takes my last breath, I will get them, I promise you, you will have justice,” she said.
Lane embarked on a relentless search for her daughter’s killers, creating phony social media profiles and reaching out to men with gang affiliations.
SkyNews: Mum Tracks Down Suspect In Daughter’s Death – Top left: Crystal Theobald: bottom left: William Sotelo;… https://t.co/c9PK2wwYSd
— Cleddau Radio (@CleddauRadio) May 11, 2016
Crystal’s mother eventually identified Sotelo as one of the men responsible for her daughter’s brutal death. To secure a confession, she set up a social media account posing as a woman named “Angel.” Belinda said William Sotelo fell in love with her phony persona and admitted his part in Crystal’s death.
Belinda Lane immediately informed authorities. Although they brought the suspect in for questioning, they could not detain him because they simply did not have enough evidence. After William Sotelo was released, he disappeared almost immediately, knowing he was a suspect in Crystal’s death.
Despite leaving the United States, the known gang member continued to communicate with his online love “Angel,” who he was still unaware was Crystal Theobald’s mother.
Amid numerous conversations, Lane learned Sotelo fled to Mexico. As a result, the FBI worked hand in hand with Mexican law enforcement to track him down. Lt. Christian Dinco, describing Lane’s persistence, said “the extent to which her efforts to bring this person to justice, is impressive. It goes to show the love she has for her daughter.”
Sotelo was arrested on Friday in central Mexico and was later extradited back to the United States. He is currently incarcerated in Riverside jail pending his initial court appearance.
— Victor Hugo (@perfildehugo) May 11, 2016
Following his arrest, Sotelo admitted he and other gang members were driving around in two vehicles looking to avenge a gang shooting that happened earlier in the day. He said he and his friends mistook Crystal Theobald’s car for a rival gang member’s vehicle.
Belinda Lane heaved a sigh of relief when she found out the decade-long fugitive was apprehended. Sotelo, who was 17 when the atrocious act was committed, will be charged as an adult on multiple counts including murder and attempted murder.
A decade after her daughter lost her life, Belinda Lane kept her word and helped facilitate the arrest of William Sotelo, the last of a six-man gang responsible for the fatal drive-by shooting.
In 2011, trigger man Julio Heredia was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The other four gang members have been arrested and are currently undergoing trial or in prison. William Sotelo was the last man standing.
Belinda Lane said Mother’s Day was the best Mother’s Day she experienced in over 10 years. She said she could now forgive those who murdered her daughter because all six were brought to justice. She said her sister gave her a mother-child statue on Mother’s Day, which left her overwhelmed and happy she was able to fulfill a promise she made a decade ago.
[Photo by Riverside Police Department via AP Images]