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Shy podcaster helped California cops solve cold case killing

Missing Student Cold Case Podcast
Posted at 9:14 AM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 13:37:59-04

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police say a podcaster's efforts helped them track down a suspect in the killing of California college student Kristin Smart nearly a quarter-century ago.

Chris Lambert detoured from his musical career three years ago to create a podcast about Smart's 1996 disappearance.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson says Lambert's efforts helped bring forward witnesses that led this week to the arrest of Paul Flores and his father.

They appeared in court but didn't enter pleas.

During a press conference on Wednesday, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow said Paul killed Smart during an attempted rape, and his father helped him hide her body.

Dow added that they "do have evidence in this case that leads us to conclude that there very well may be additional victims in the southern California area."

Dow charged Paul Flores, 44, with first-degree murder during the commission of attempted rape. Dow added that the statute of limitation for rape has expired, but the allegations that rape was committed or the attempt of rape is the basis for filing a felony murder charge.

Dow said Ruben Flores, 88, is charged with accessory after the fact since he helped conceal the body of Smart after the murder.

The two were arrested Tuesday at their separate homes connected with the disappearance of 19-year-old Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart, who a witness last saw on campus on May 25, 1996.

According to a witness, Smart was last seen with Paul Flores leaving an off-campus fraternity party in San Luis Obispo and walking back to her dorm.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office was back at Ruben’s home on White Court in Arroyo Grande Wednesday morning, where crews the day prior appeared to be digging and dismantling the back deck area as part of a search warrant.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Parkinson said that while Kristin’s remains have not been found, he believes they are closer than ever finding her.

Parkinson added that law enforcement found physical evidence at two homes. He would not disclose what law enforcement found evidence or which two home law enforcement found the evidence.

Smart would have turned 44 in February.

Lambert says he never expected the results he achieved.

Meanwhile, his podcast, "Your Own Backyard," hit 7.5 million downloads Thursday.

It was the No. 2 podcast on iTunes.