The podcast, "Your Own Backyard," brought the Kristin Smart case back into the national spotlight after the Cal Poly freshman had been missing for more than 20 years.
The eight-part series has hit more than 10 million downloads since the first episode aired in September 2019.
Chris Lambert of Orcutt re-examines the disappearance of Smart, conducting dozens and dozens of interviews including the lead detective on the case. He’s interviewed more than 200 people. And though he thought the podcast would remain local, it blew up and from the beginning, he wanted to get enough people talking about the case to get a resolution.
“It isn't going to go away because we've started the conversation all over again and this time, the puzzle pieces are all in one place,” Lambert said in Episode 8 of "Your Own Backyard" in November 2020.
Since that episode, Paul Flores has been arrested and charged with the murder of Kristin Smart. His father was arrested, too, and charged with accessory to murder after the fact.
“A few times it's hit me all of a sudden, like, woah,” Lambert said. “When I started telling this story, I thought a resolution is so far in the distance it just doesn't seem like it's ever going to happen or maybe the ball has been dropped so many times that it can't be picked back up.”
Since he started his research in May of 2018, his mission has been justice for Kristin after seeing her face on a billboard for years.
“It's hard to feel a sense of relief when Kristin hasn't been recovered. It feels like that's the ultimate goal and the arrests are just one step towards that,” Lambert said.
On the day of the arrests, Sheriff Ian Parkinson credited Lambert with finding new witnesses and bringing renewed attention to the case.
“I think what Chris did with the podcast was truly put it out nationally to bring in new information so we did produce some information that I believe was valuable,” Sheriff Parkinson said.
Lambert says the podcast is not over and he hasn’t stopped interviewing people. He tells me he’s taking his time on the next episode.
“There are large parts of the stories that haven't been told that I want to tell now. Now that there's an arrest that's been made, I feel like I don't have to tiptoe as much and there's things that I can reveal that I’ve been sitting on,” he said.
Lambert says he’s had movie deals and book offers but he says they don’t feel immediately necessary to accept because he’s still trying to tell the story in real-time.
He adds the first time he met the Smarts was on Kristin’s birthday, unexpectedly, at her memorial in Shell Beach before starting the podcast.