Crime Diaries: The Celebrity Stylist is a Spanish Netflix thriller based on the true story of one of the most notorious murder cases in Colombia. If you’re Spanish, you are probably familiar with the case involving the murder of Colombia’s Mauricio Leal. On the fateful night of November 21, 2021, Leal was murdered at his home along with his mother, Marleny Hernandez, whose dead body was found lying beside him. The case soon gained huge media attention. Even though initially the scene looked like a murder-suicide case, the investigators uncovered something more sinister to it.
Who Was Mauricio Leal?
Mauricio Leal was a celebrity hairstylist, famous all over Colombia. Starting from actresses to Miss Universe, he used to style famous people all over the country. He had a personal salon in Bogotá, where he used to work with his brother, Jhonier, who was also a stylist. However, Jhonier didn’t have the same luck as Mauricio. He considered himself a loser because he couldn’t end up as successful as his younger brother, Mauricio. Jhonier had his own salon, but it was not as famous as Mauricio’s, which ultimately ignited the feeling of jealousy in Jhonier’s mind. Jhonier and Mauricio’s mother, Marleny Hernandez, was a caring and loving mother who prioritized her children equally, but she was seemingly more fond of her younger son, Mauricio, than Jhonier, making him feel excluded in his own family.
What Was The True Story Behind Leal’s Death?
Mauricio Leal had an out-of-control drug habit, but he was not suicidal at all. His colleagues at the salon, as well as the people who used to work for him in his house, confirmed that he never showed any signs of trying to harm himself. But Jhonier, from the very beginning, maintained that Mauricio was an addict, which might be a reason for him to kill himself. After the two dead bodies were found in Mauricio’s house, it looked like a murder-suicide case. It seemed Mauricio had killed his mother by stabbing her to death and then killed himself with the knife.
During the investigation, the presence of a suicide note containing Mauricio’s handwriting made it almost clear that he killed his mother first and then committed suicide. The suicide letter mentioned that his love for his mother was so strong that he decided to be with her in heaven. But the investigators knew from the start that something was off in this case. Two months later, they concluded that this was not suicide but rather a double homicide case. As they dug deeper into Jhonier Leal’s background, they found enough motives for him to kill his entire family.
Moreover, it was Jhonier who always believed in the suicide theory and emphasized that his brother could do it even though the other people whom Mauricio worked with couldn’t even contemplate such a thing. Jhonier automatically became a prime suspect. Their suspicion grew even further when they found Jhonier’s hand had an injury. Jhonier messed up his alibi while trying to explain away this injury, which thickened the suspicion. Finally, the police arrested Jhonier from his home and found that Jhonier was actually after the property that he was supposed to acquire after the death of his family. However, Mauricio Leal was no saint. Further investigation found that Mauricio had affiliations with several drug trafficking gangs. It was revealed that he was also associated with money laundering, which brought him so much wealth in such a short period of time. During the investigation, all the assets of Mauricio Leal were seized by the police.
Is The True Story Different?
The major protagonist of the Netflix adaptation Crime Diaries: The Celebrity Stylist is the detective Soto, who doesn’t exist in reality. She is probably an amalgamation of all the detectives who have worked on this case. The makers took creative liberties and added some depth and drama to this narrative by introducing Detective Soto into the story. As we look into Soto’s life, we see she was not content with it. She was a mother and an underappreciated investigator. Her husband, who was just jealous of her success, tried to unleash his frustration and wrath upon her, while all she wanted was for someone to accept her and understand her. This addition made this murder mystery a compelling one and helped us connect with the struggle of this character. She was the one who solved the case in the film, but in the end, she was asked to leave the case just because she was a mother who “was supposed to” take care of her child. In the concluding moments of the film, we see her accepting her fate and trying to move on from the case, but her inability to stay till the end of the case somehow creates an obsession in her mind. She became attached to the case more and more because even though she had her different journey, she was unintentionally empathetic to Jhonier, because just like him, she felt very excluded from her family all the time, and it was taking a toll on her mental health.
One thing I love about Crime Diaries: The Celebrity Stylist film is that it doesn’t spoon-feed the storyline to its audience. From the very beginning, it was an open-and-shut case, but the Netflix film wanted to show more than just a murder mystery. It built a very relevant character who suits this narrative, making it even more engaging. But why Soto’s boss dismissed her from the case remained a mystery. To answer that, we can say that probably Soto’s husband tried to contact her boss and explained that due to her work pressure, she couldn’t properly take care of her child. That’s why her boss didn’t want her family issues to disrupt the seriousness of the case and eventually asked her to take some time off, which is indeed a very painful ending for the character, but it was a tragic reality.
What Happened To Jhonier Leal? Where Is He Now?
Jhonier Leal, who was arrested on January 14th, 2022, for the double homicide of his mother and brother, confessed his crime following his arrest. He was surely a jealous person, for whom achieving success was a difficult path, but he had never actually planned to kill his family to achieve that. He acted in an impulsive rage, and he was sure that he would have to face severe consequences for the action. Therefore, after his arrest, he initially confessed to his crime. However, the man had a change of heart soon after his arrest and tried to claim his innocence before the law. Currently, Jhonier remains behind bars but has appealed for house arrest, which has been denied by the court without any further discussion. He even claimed to have the right to his brother’s assets and has been waiting for the conclusion of his trial. Until the very end, Jhonier maintained his defensive stance and continued to say that he confessed out of pressure. He was given a sentence of 60 years in prison and is now serving his sentence in the prison cell of La Picota.