Take a look around the world in the reports of true crime and repeatedly you will see cases of love rivals being murdered through a jealous rage. Love is a powerful emotion and when it comes to relationships, females can most definitely prove themselves to be just as deadly as males. A perceived threat from another woman can for some prompt predatory behaviour and in extreme cases murder by a female desperate to protect what she sees as hers.

According to Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas, Dr David Buss, “jealousy is possibly the most destructive emotion housed in the human brain,” he wrote in an article published in the LA Times in 2007. He highlights that while it would be nice to think that the murderous violent actions of those who kill a love rival are isolated events, every one of us is capable, with jealousy activating specific areas of our brains associated with both sexual and aggressive behaviour. Furthermore, he notes a study carried out with 5,000 individuals across six different cultures where up to 84% of women admitted to homicidal fantasies against sexual rivals.

On 15 August 2017, 42-year-old Shanna Golyar was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole in Nebraska after being found guilty of the murder of a ‘love rival’ in November 2012. A crime she covered up for over four years by pretending to be her victim on social media to convince her family and friends she was still alive.

Shanna Golyar

Shanna Golyar

In 2012 Cari Farver was 37-years-old and the mother of a young son. On the morning of 13 November 2012, she left the apartment complex of a man she had been dating for just a few weeks in Omaha, Iowa after staying the night to go to work. However, she never arrived and was reported missing two days later by her mother. She was listed as a missing person with few leads to tell investigators where she may have gone.

Two months after her disappearance her vehicle was found parked nearby her boyfriend’s apartment and her boyfriend continued to receive hundreds of emails from Farver, all claiming she had gone away and wouldn’t be coming back. Her social media accounts were updated regularly with messages suggesting she simply did not want to be found. For over four years her case went cold with investigators unsure if this was an adult female who had left on her own accord as her social media suggested, or if foul play was involved in her disappearance.

Cari Farver

Cari Farver

On 22 December 2016, Shanna Golyar was arrested at her home in Persia, Iowa for the murder of Cari Farver. Golyar was the ex-girlfriend of the man Cari Farver was in a relationship with and police had uncovered evidence to suggest not only was Cari Farver dead, but that she had been murdered by Golyar due to extreme jealously over their relationship.

Police believed Golyar watched Cari Farver leaving the home of her ex-boyfriend on the morning she went missing, attacking and stabbing her to death. Taking her mobile phone, Golyar was able to access Cari’s social media accounts and send a number of messages and status updates to convince everyone Cari was fine.

Golyar also created a fake Facebook account as Cari Farver and used it to post messages suggesting she had simply left the area and did not wish to return home. Cari Farver’s body has never been found. To further complicate the story, Shanna Golyar was convicted of second-degree arson relating to a fire police believe she set in her own home in August 2013, a year after the murder of Cari Farver, which she attempted to blame on Cari Farver, again as a ruse to convince people that Farver was alive and well.

In hearings on the run-up to her trial, it was heard that Shanna Golyar’s fingerprints were found inside the vehicle owned by Cari Farver. Furthermore, the emails received by her boyfriend and Golyar’s ex-lover supposedly from Farver had been traced back to Golyar, just as the access to Farver’s social media accounts had been, all suggestive that Shanna Golyar had purposely tried to cover up the fact she had murdered the woman she saw as a love rival.

Shanna Golyar during her trial for murder in May 2017.

Shanna Golyar during her trial for murder in May 2017.

In a case with no body and no murder weapon, it was clear how defense attorneys for Shanna Golyar would proceed. “There’s no confessions, no admissions, there’s no body, there’s no murder weapon, there’s no sufficient showing of blood that there was a death that even took place,” they told the court in a hearing in December 2016.

When her case came to trial in May 2017 without a jury after Golyar waived her right to trial by jury, Golyar pleaded not guilty to murder. Prosecuting attorney Jim Masteller told the court, “This was a well-planned, well-executed scheme of the defendant to intercept Cari Farver, murder her, and dispose of her body.” He brought into evidence photographs found in the possession of Shanna Golyar, one of which showed a decomposing foot and identifiable tattoos which matched those of Cari Farver. Her defense team counter-acted by saying “That doesn’t tell us the cause of death. It doesn’t say the manner of death…Those are what you need in a murder case,” according to reports by WOWT News. A further damning piece of evidence against Golyar were emails she received which she claimed were from Cari Farver’s killer detailing how the woman had been stabbed and then dumped, emails prosecutors have no doubt were sent by Shanna Golyar herself.

Despite no body, the circumstantial evidence against her was too strong and she was found guilty of first-degree murder, now to spend the rest of her life behind bars.

This case has been labelled as a murder born out of a ‘love triangle’ with the argument for motive always resting on the idea that Shanna Golyar could not cope with her ex-boyfriend’s new relationship, focusing all her anger on an innocent Cari Farver. The lengths she went to in order to cover the murder and keep Cari Farver’s loved ones in the belief that Cari was still alive were cold and callous with no concern for the family, simply a desire to protect herself and get away with murder. “In my three or four decades of practicing law, it’s one of the most powerful presentations of circumstantial evidence that I’ve ever seen,” her own attorney said after the guilty verdict. Summing up the case the team who prosecuted Golyar said, “This is a bizarre and twisted case of veiled attraction. It’s about an obsessive woman that would stop at nothing to get what she wanted.”