How a podcaster helped police in the cold case killing of Kristin Smart

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FILE – This undated photo released by the FBI shows Kristin Smart, the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo student who disappeared in 1996. (FBI via AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — The man accused of killing Kristin Smart, the California college student 25 years ago appeared in court Monday to try and get his bail reduced.

Prosecutors say Paul Flores killed Smart in 1996 while trying to rape her in his college dorm room.

A true crime podcast host is credited with helping police crack the case.

Chris Lambert spoke one-on-one with NewsNation’s Nichole Berlie on Monday’s Early Edition. Watch the conversation in the player above.

A billboard on the side of the road on California’s Central Coast led Lambert on a detour three years ago from his career as a singer-songwriter and recording engineer. He created a podcast about the 1996 disappearance of the college freshman and it’s taken over his life.

“I can’t step away from it for more than a few days,” Lambert said. “I just get sucked right back in because I want to be resolving things.”

Last week, as San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson announced arrests, he credited Lambert with helping draw worldwide attention to the case and bringing forward several key witnesses.

This photo provided by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office shows suspect Paul Flores who was arrested Tuesday, April 13, 2021, for the murder of Kristin Smart. (San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

The longtime suspect, Paul Flores, and Smart were fellow freshmen at the California Polytechnic State University campus in San Luis Obispo. Now 44, Flores was charged with murder in the killing of the 19-year-old while trying to rape her in his dorm room, prosecutors said.

His father, Ruben Flores, 80, was charged as an accessory after authorities said he helped hide the body, which has never been located.

Paul Flores’ lawyer has declined to comment on the criminal charge. A lawyer for Ruben Flores said his client is innocent.

Lambert has been thrust into the spotlight with the arrests. His eight-part series, “Your Own Backyard,” hit 7.5 million downloads Thursday and it was the No. 2 podcast on iTunes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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