Boyfriend of famed footwear lover charged with her murder

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A Menifee man who allegedly killed his 58-year-old girlfriend -- a renowned footwear collector found dead in her backyard swimming pool -- was charged today with murder.

Justin Charles Smith, 29, was arrested Monday afternoon and held without bail in connection with the death of Darlene Flynn, whose vast collection of shoes and shoe-related products landed her in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2006.

Along with the murder count, Smith faces a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony. He's slated to be arraigned this afternoon at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

Riverside County sheriff's deputies were called to the victim's residence in the 28800 block of Stone Lane around 2 p.m. Monday after receiving calls about a domestic disturbance involving a man and woman, screaming at one another.

Deputies knocked on the front door of the house repeatedly but received no response, said sheriff's Sgt. Todd Torrenti.

``While attempting to make entry, deputies noticed a shirtless male running from the rear of the residence,'' Torrenti said. ``A perimeter was established, and the male was located (hours later) near the intersection of Briggs Road and Highway 74.''

Smith was arrested without incident.

Back at the house, deputies pulled Flynn out of the pool and conducted a preliminary examination to determine a possible cause of death. Torrenti said the fatally injured woman ``had injuries consistent with blunt force trauma.''

Flynn, dubbed ``The Shoe Lady'' and the ``Queen of Sole,'' had amassed more than 16,000 shoes and shoe-related products. The collection, which includes heels, sneakers, boots, stockings -- even pillows shaped as shoes -- has an estimated value in excess of $500,000, according to published reports.

Court records show Smith has a prior misdemeanor conviction for grand theft from September 2012. He was sentenced to three years probation in that case.  

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