A STALKER-killer at the center of a new Netflix documentary possesses a Charles Manson-like ability to bend people to her will – and may have used her powers of influence to mastermind the murder of her infant son, the boy’s father alleges.
Thirteen years before she murdered Cari Farver in a jealous rage, Shanna “Liz” Golyar was one of the prime suspects in the death of her five-month-old son, Cody Golyar.
Cody was rushed to a hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, on January 29, 1999, after the mother of Golyar’s latest boyfriend Glenn Herr discovered the infant wasn’t breathing.
Tragically, efforts to revive the young boy came in vain and he was pronounced dead within hours.
A subsequent autopsy revealed the young boy had suffered a brain hemorrhage caused by violent shaking that likely lasted in excess of 20 seconds. His official cause of death was listed as shaken baby syndrome (SBS).
Golyar and Herr, then both 21, immediately became prime suspects in the case.
Herr, who has learning difficulties from a brain injury he suffered as a child, admitted to the authorities he occasionally tossed the boy into the air to make him laugh.
A stressed and sleep-deprived Herr was then quizzed for hours by investigators, first in the back of a patrol car. Eventually, he conceded he may have shaken the boy.
However, his family believes he was “badgered” into making the admission by cops and likely confused tossing Cody in the air for physically shaking him.
Herr was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
During his trial, it was alleged that Golyar called Herr at work the night before Cody’s death crying, telling him, “I dropped the baby! Get home!”
Herr’s attorney, Dan Buscher, pointed the finger of blame for Cody’s death at Golyar and claimed his client had attempted to cover for her.
“Society doesn’t believe a mother can do this to their own child,” said Buscher, per reports in the Battle Creek Enquirer. “But don’t put the blame on someone who didn’t do it.”
Golyar never faced any charges. But it was Golyar’s testimony against Herr that would seal his fate.
Golyar – who wore a disguise into the courtroom because she had outstanding warrants for her arrest in an unrelated car theft case – shared seven letters she claimed to have received from Herr while he was in jail in May 1999.
The letters, sometimes written in flowery and dramatic prose, included various damning passages purported to show Herr trying to convince Golyar to lie for him in court.
Everyone was sequestered out of the courtroom before Golyar shared the letters with the jury.
Golyar was the only person asked to certify whether the handwriting on the letters matched Herr’s, court records show.
A recess was called afterward and Herr entered a guilty plea. He was sentenced to eight and a half years for second-degree murder.
To this day, Herr’s family believes he was framed by Golyar and coerced into confessing to Cody’s murder. They also allege that Golyar likely forged the letters purported to have been written by Herr because he is “slow” and incapable of writing anything more than basic sentences.
Cody’s father, Raymond Strahan, has also long believed his ex-lover had something to do with his son’s death.
Speaking exclusively to The U.S. Sun, Strahan pointed to a parenting magazine that was found by police near where his son was found unresponsive as a partial cause of his suspicions.
“There was a parenting magazine found beside the bed where my so was found […] there was an article in there on shaken baby syndrome and the page was earmarked,” he said.
“The prosecuting attorney told me she didn’t go after Shanna and she didn’t pursue first-degree murder charges because all they had was circumstantial evidence. But that’s not circumstantial, she should’ve used it.
“But that [magazine] really made me think she was actually in on this and she was trying to get him to get rid of our son so that they could be together forever.
“A whole article on SBS, which is how he was murdered. That’s a glaring piece of evidence.”
SHADES OF MANSON
Golyar was briefly quizzed about the magazine on the stand during her testimony, transcripts from Herr’s trial show.
She told the courtroom the magazine was Herr’s, given to him by his mother, but admitted reading it.
Strahan likened Golyar to infamous cult leader Charles Manson and said he believes she may have coerced Herr into “getting rid” of Cody.
“I believe she influenced what happened […] I wouldn’t say that she framed him, but I want to say she manipulated him.
“After Glenn and I found out she was seeing us both at the same time, I can see her telling him, ‘If you get rid of mine and Ray’s son then you and I can be together forever.’
“I don’t want to say it’s a Charles Manson kind of case, but I do think it’s similar
“Charles Manson was just as manipulative as Shanna could be.
“They probably have the same psyche about them: an ability to manipulate people into doing exactly what they want.”
That [magazine] really made me think she was actually in on this and she was trying to get him to get rid of our son so that they could be together forever.
Baby Cody’s death was unearthed by author Leslie Rule, daughter of the revered true crime writer Ann Rule, in her book, A Tangled Web, published in 2020.
Rule – pointing out that Golyar is now a known pathological liar who is adept at impersonating people and forging confessions to frame others for her crimes – said she believes Golyar should’ve been more rigorously investigated for any potential involvement in Cody’s death.
Following her rigorous investigation, Rule believes it’s possible that Golyar forged Herr’s letters to back him into a corner and encourage him to confess for a more lenient sentence.
Herr’s mom, Phyllis Herr, told The U.S. Sun there’s no doubt in her mind that Golyar set her son up for a fall.
“There’s no way he could’ve written those letters even now, let alone then,” said Phyllis.
“I don’t know why he confessed. But when he was in prison I asked him, and he told me it would be easier if he went to prison than Shanna.
“He had a family, he had friends, he had people who believed in him – and she had nobody.
“I think something happened the night before he passed away,” added Phyllis, referencing the night Golyar allegedly admitted to dropping Cody.
“I personally believe Shanna did it […] but my son was manipulated into taking the fall.”
A ‘FLASHBANG ROMANCE’
Strahan first met Golyar in the spring of 1997 while they were both working at a plastics factory in Battle Creek, Michigan.
Both in their early 20s, they were introduced by a mutual friend and immediately hit it off, embarking on what Strahan called a “flashbang romance.”
Their courtship hit a snag early on when Strahan introduced Golyar to both his mother and his stepmom but neither of the matriarchs warmed to his love interest, eventually outright telling him they didn’t like her at all.
Against his best instincts, Strahan ignored his family’s concerns but soon began noticing a series of red flags in Golyar’s behavior himself, namely extremely possessive and jealous tendencies, and an insatiable appetite for his attention.
“One thing she tended to want was attention for just about anything; good, bad, indifferent she didn’t care, all that mattered was that she got my attention,” he said.
“And if she didn’t get it, she’d give me this kind of s**ty look and glare right through me.”
Strahan claims that Golyar would sometimes cut herself when she didn’t get the attention she was seeking, though the wounds always appeared “superficial” and no serious damage was ever done.
He says she would also berate and interrogate him whenever she caught him speaking with a female colleague at work.
As their relations grew strained, Strahan became increasingly convinced that Golyar was cheating on him.
She’d often ask to borrow his car to go out and “help” one of her friends at all hours of the day, but all of the friends were male, and Golyar rarely specified what it was she was supposedly helping them with.
But the young couple was living together at Strahan’s dad’s home and breaking up with Golyar would leave her with nowhere to go.
Feeling responsible for the petite and hapless-seeming Golyar, Strahan persevered and assuaged his suspicions.
The pair were in a rocky place when, over lunch in early 1998, Golyar suddenly announced she was pregnant.
The news came as a shock to Strahan, who wasn’t entirely convinced the child was his.
Another shock came eight months later when a heavily pregnant Golyar told Strahan she was moving in to live with 21-year-old Glenn Herr, whom she assured was just a friend.
In reality, Golyar had been dating the two men at the same time for months and continued to do so even after she moved in with Herr.
ANOTHER LOVE TRIANGLE
It was only after Cody’s birth in August 1998 that Golyar’s affair was revealed.
Strahan refused to have anything to do with her anymore but was determined to stay in his son’s life.
But Golyar only permitted Strahan to see his son sparingly, and only a handful of times without her supervision.
I believe she influenced what happened […] I wouldn’t say that she framed him, but I want to say she manipulated him.
Cody was a fussy baby and often cried.
Strahan described Golyar as an “okay mother” who was fairly hands-off – but he never suspected she’d do anything to harm Cody.
That would change in January of the following year when Strahan received a call at his parents’ home from an emotionless Golyar who bluntly informed him, “Your son is in the hospital. You might want to get up here,” before abruptly hanging up.
“She was condescending and rude in the way she said it,” remembered Strahan.
“I could almost see that s**tty look on her face that she used to give me as she was talking.”
By the time Strahan arrived at the hospital, a lifeless little Cody was lying on a gurney strapped to a life support system.
The horrifying image left Strahan beside himself.
Golyar’s reaction was somewhat different, he claimed.
“At times she was doing what a normal mother would do, bawling her eyes out and all that stuff, but other times she was just strange,” he said.
“The guy that was supposed to have killed our son was at the hospital with us and she was all over him, hugging him and stuff, it was just so strange.
“A CPS worker came to interview her, and that worker came up to me after 20-30 minutes of speaking with Shanna and said, ‘If your son survives this, you need to go to Mission Point, which has a behavioral health clinic, and get her some help.’
“This was the first time she’d met her […] I don’t know what specifically made her say that but she said she wasn’t acting right.”
GOLYAR ‘DIDN’T GIVE A S**T’
Baby Cody was pronounced dead at the Bronson Methodist Hospital after extensive efforts of resuscitation failed to revive the boy.
Strahan was devastated and took years to recover from the grief of losing his son.
A chipper Golyar, meanwhile, was reportedly spotted by Phyllis Herr shopping for a new wardrobe just two days after Cody’s death.
The supermarket encounter was first detailed by Rule in A Tangled Web.
The passage reads, “[…] Shanna didn’t behave like a typical grieving mother. Within a day or so of Cody’s death, [Phyllis] ran into her at Walmart and was shocked by her cheerful mood.
“Shanna was with an older couple, and the woman smiled at [Phyllis] and said, ‘We’re treating Shanna to a new wardrobe.'”
Recounting the same incident in an interview with The U.S. Sun, Phyllis Herr said, “Glenn was inconsolable and […] had he been my child I’d have been a basket case, but Shanna wasn’t.
“She had very little reaction and seemed just fine within days.
“I really don’t think she gave a s**t about that poor child.”
Strahan only saw Golyar a handful of times after Cody’s funeral and Herr’s trial.
He resented investigators for allowing her to escape any culpability in the boy’s death and beat himself up over the what-ifs leading up to that fateful day.
Golyar eventually moved back to her home state of Nebraska.
From time to time over the years, though still resentful, Strahan admitted to harboring feelings for Golyar and occasionally reminisced about the good times they shared.
Periodically he’d find himself looking her up on Facebook to see if she’d “spat out any more kids she didn’t deserve,” confessed Strahan.
It was during one such social media stalk in late 2016 that he typed her name into the search bar to find her mugshot plastered all over his timeline.
“I found out what she was accused of and it was just mind-blowing,” he said.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, this makes such much sense,’ even though it was hard to believe that such a small framed girl was capable of doing something so awful as killing a woman and making her body disappear.
“I immediately contacted detectives and told them about Cody, telling them they needed to come down here.”
Shanna Golyar was arrested in December 2016 and charged with the first-degree murder of Cari Farver.
She stabbed Farver to death inside her car in a jealous rage after learning a man she was dating, Dave Kroupa, was seeing them both at the same time.
It’s unknown where and how Golyar disposed of Farver’s remains.
To cover up the killing, Golyar impersonated Farver in messages and on social media for more than three years, sending more than 15,000 emails and 50,000 texts to Kroupa, herself, and Farver’s family members.
‘KARMA BIT HER ON THE A**’
When her web of deceit started to fray in 2015, Golyar shot herself in the leg and attempted to pin the shooting on another of Kroupa’s exes, Amy Flores.
Golyar also began impersonating Flores in emails to detectives and even attempted to frame her for Farver’s murder, writing in one message that she’d stabbed Farver “three to four times” and stuffed her body into a garbage bag.
When Golyar was eventually arrested, they found some of Farver’s belongings inside her home, including a camcorder.
She was found guilty the following year of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Today, she is incarcerated at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women where she continues to maintain her innocence.
After the release of her book, Rule received letters from Golyar, one of which read, “I will not stop fighting until I am set free and they find the right person.”
Strahan, meanwhile, said he was relieved when he learned Golyar had been locked away for good in 2017 but saddened that another innocent life had to be claimed before she was caged.
“She should’ve been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in 1999,” said Strahan.
“It was bittersweet when I heard she got arrested because it sucks that Carrie lost her life and her son lost his mom, but karma finally came around and bit her on the a** at least.
“It felt like, finally someone had caught her and is putting her in a locked cell, which is where the hell she belongs.
“It wasn’t quite foreclosure but it felt pretty damn close to it for my son.
“Justice finally came and gave Shanna what she deserved.”
Read more on the Scottish Sun
Golyar’s murder of Farver is featured in the new Netflix documentary, Lover, Stalker, Killer, which debuted on February 9.