Chris Lambert released episode eight of his podcast “Your Own Backyard” which details the disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristen Smart in May of 1996.
Lambert said that the series was originally supposed to be only six episodes, but the two most recent episodes were released after new information was brought to light.
Episode eight was prompted by two things: search warrants being issued on each member of the Flores family’s home and notebooks he received from the Smart family, Lambert said.
Paul Flores is the main suspect in Smart’s disappearance, as he was the last person to be seen with her the night she disappeared. According to Lambert’s podcast, the Flores family may be somehow involved in or hiding information about Smart’s disappearance.
According to Lambert’s podcast, in February 2020 investigators issued search warrants on every member of the Flores family. The investigators were carrying boxes of communication devices including cell phones and laptops out of their homes.
Lambert said this may have been due to his podcast.
“I pieced together over time through people I spoke to that the Flores family were definitely paying attention to the podcast, and were discussing it very heavily amongst each other,” Lambert said. “So you can imagine what the sheriff’s department thought may or may not have ended up in their emails or texts.”
The Smart family mailed Lambert a collection of notebooks, which he said was the “catalyst” for the newest episode. These notebooks contained roughly every piece of information the Smart family had obtained about their daughter’s case since 1996.
In one of the notebooks, Lambert found records that an Australian exchange student at Cal Poly had claimed to see an aggressive struggle between a girl and a boy matching the descriptions of Flores and Smart right around the time that Smart was last seen. However, the police dismissed his claim as unrelated to the case, as the location of where he saw the altercation didn’t line up with their theory.
Lambert said this was another example of the mistakes that police made in the early stages of the case.
“The current Sheriff’s administration has also been pretty open that mistakes were made back then, and I think this is another one of them,” Lambert said. “To let go of a story like this based on the location not matching up to your theory is kind of closed-minded, and it limits what you’re able to investigate that way.”
Lambert’s podcast brought newfound interest to the case of Kristen Smart, which he said was one of his original goals.
“That was my goal in the beginning — to get people talking about this again,” Lambert said. “Slowly over the course of researching this, the goal has become ‘Can we just find her body for them? ‘Can we circumvent having to wait for an arrest or whatever the sheriff’s department is considering a priority?’”
While Lambert has been critical of the investigators of the Smart case in the past, he said that he believes the current detectives on the case want it resolved very badly. He also said that he believes his podcast impacted the newest developments.
“The two paths sort of collided in that the police were already working towards doing something more than they had done in the past, and at the same time, the podcast raised the profile. If the podcast had not raised the profile, who knows what would have gone on,” Lambert said.
Lambert said he has been cooperating with detectives to give them the information he receives, and he regularly calls for updates on the case.
“I am certainly cooperating with the current detectives, and they have been very generous in allowing me to communicate things with them and make sure that things are being followed up on,” Lambert said.
Lambert said he doesn’t have any concrete plans to release new episodes, but he said that doesn’t mean that there won’t be more episodes.
“This is an important case to me. This family is important to me. The resolution is important to me. Seeing the impact that the timing of the podcast and the new investigators combined has had makes me want to keep pushing,” Lambert said. “I don’t have any desire to just put out a new episode to put out a new episode but every time that I feel I have enough there, I’m planning to put out a new one that way.”