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A new episode of the podcast “Your Own Backyard” detailing allegations of a history of violence against women by Paul Flores, the suspect in the murder of Kristin Smart, has been released this week.
Paul Flores, 44, has always been the key suspect in the disappearance of Smart, who vanished after attending an off-campus party near California Polytechnic University in 1996. She was last seen being escorted back to her dorm by Flores, her classmate. Dan Dow, the San Luis Obispo County district attorney, said at a press conference earlier this year that investigators believe Flores killed Smart during a rape attempt in his dorm room.
Prosecutors have alleged in court documents that “dozens of women have recounted Paul Flores’ sexual assaults and predatory behavior that document his 25 years as a serial rapist.” Earlier this year, Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office released reports that showed investigators eyed him in 2012 when his DNA profile matched a sample collected from a Southern California woman who was sexually assaulted in 2007, NBC News reported.
A special two-part episode of “Your Own Backyard,” which dropped on Tuesday, looked into some of these claims and puts forth the idea that Flores has been violent towards women since he was a child. The podcast helped break the Smart case and has been credited for helping to provide evidence to investigators.
Through interviews with witnesses, alleged survivors, and commentary, podcast host Chris Lambert detailed Flores’ life. Lambert said that multiple people contacted him to recall an incident from Flores’ childhood in which he pushed a girl into a pool and wouldn’t let her up for air; he had to be dragged out of the pool, the individuals recalled. Then, as a pre-teen, Flores allegedly would stalk and harass various girls via phone. One of his high school classmates told Lambert in the new episode that Flores body slammed her in high school; she said she lost her vision during the attack.
More women detailed even more disturbing alleged interactions with Flores as he entered adulthood, which ranged from groping to assault to sexual assault.
“He was like a predator,” one woman, who wasn’t named by the host, said in 1995, a year before Smart vanished. She said that Flores tried to rape her in a bathroom.
Another woman told Lambert that she saw Flores put “eyedrops” into women’s drinks; he noted that it could have been a date rape drug. One witness said they believed that Flores may have drugged a girl at a party in 1996, months before Smart’s vanishing. She said that the woman was unconscious, foaming at the mouth, and had defecated; Flores was the last person seen with her inside a bathroom.
Five people told Lambert that a week after Smart’s disappearance, Flores attended a post-prom party for high schoolers — despite being a college student. He allegedly brought a container of a liquid that he was trying to convince the teens to drink.
Lambert said that he believes that as Flores grew older, he spent his nights hanging out at bars alone, preying on women. One witness said she felt Flores had drugged her at a bar; when she came to, she said, she was making out with him. Another alleged survivor told Lambert that she feels she was drugged at Flores’ home, and that she kept blacking out during sex. One woman claims that Flores tried to force her into his car.
Additionally, a bar bouncer told Lambert he caught Flores trying to touch an incapacitated woman in a car after her group of friends carried her out to it because she was too drunk. That witness called Flores "the creepiest guy ever."
“Hopefully it helps to establish a pattern of Paul’s behavior,” Lambert told Oxygen.com on Wednesday. “Part of what I was discovering in talking to all of these women is that Paul seemed to have such particular methods and he had an M.O. (modus operandi) which was so repetitive and so consistent throughout all these years that I talked to a woman who had a run-in with him in 1995 and then a woman from 2015 and there would be so many similarities and so many of the same descriptors.”
Lambert added that he hopes this episode can help other women recognize “some of those traits” Flores allegedly displayed over the years.
“I’m under the impression that there are many women out there who were assaulted by Paul who may not even know it happened to them so I hope this can help them put the pieces together,” he said, adding that if they come forward that their stories can help prosecute Flores in the Smart case.
Dow said in April that investigators have obtained evidence showing Flores may have committed acts of sexual violence against others who have not been identified, local outlet KSBY reported.
Both Flores and his 80-year-old father, Ruben Flores, were both taken into custody earlier this year. Investigators believe that the elder Flores helped cover up the murder of Smart. Paul Flores has been charged with first-degree murder and Ruben Flores is charged with being an accessory.
Anyone with information in the case is urged to call the San Luis Obispo Police at 805-781-4500 or Chris Lambert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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