It happened in 1996 — a Cal Poly freshman went missing. Her investigation has been ongoing for the past 23 years. To this day, it is unknown what happened to Kristin Smart.
Orcutt resident Chris Lambert has lived on the Central Coast his entire life. His interest in Smart’s case was sparked at a young age.
“I was eight years old when Kristin disappeared,” Lambert said. “I knew at the time she went missing, [it] kind of scared me as a little kid to hear that somebody locally had disappeared and they didn’t know what happened to her.”
The Smart case has been in and out of the news since she disappeared. The most recent lead was in Fall 2016 when the San Luis Obispo Sheriff found remains at the hillside near the “P.” However, the remains were not related to Smart’s case.
“I realized, wow, a lot of people don’t know this ever happened, and it’s probably because there was no resolution,” Lambert said. “It was never conclusively solved and they never found her body, and so, as a result, I don’t think it gets talked about much anymore.”
Lambert found an article from the Los Angeles Times that went into great detail on the case, inspiring Lambert to want to tell Smart’s story.
Lambert started a podcast based on Smart’s case, starting back from the night she disappeared.
“There’s no documentaries on the case, there’s no podcasts on the case, so I thought I’d give it a shot,” Lambert said.
Set to release this summer, “Your Own Backyard” features five episodes depicting different chapters of the case, from who Smart was as a person, what her life was like and the incidents leading up to her disappearance.
“I’m calling the podcast ‘Your Own Backyard’ because there are so many missing people, and taken in total it can make you feel sort of helpless,” Lambert said. “When it happens in your own backyard I guess there’s a slightly better chance that you might actually be able to do something.”
Lambert said he talked to people who attended the party Smart was at the night of her disappearance. Lambert said he has also talked to many people who knew the main suspect of the case, several women admitting they had creepy experiences with him, prior to Smart disappearing.
“Whether he was the one who did something to Kristin or not, he was certainly at the wrong place at the wrong time and he had a history of being inappropriate towards women,” Lambert said.
Through all of this, Lambert has developed his own insight in to the case and the mystery of Smart’s missing body.
“I think Kristin was killed the night that she disappeared,” Lambert said. “I think she died the night she disappeared, and I think that between the time that she died and the morning hours of that same day, she was buried somewhere, and I have a couple pretty good ideas of where that could have been.”
At the end of the day, Lambert said his biggest goal is to gain as much public attention to Smart’s case as possible, with his number one goal being someone coming forward with information about where her body is.
“I would be happy if the police solved it,” he said. “I would much rather they solve it, than me tell a great story,” Lambert said.