MENIFEE (CBSLA.com) — A man suspected in the murder of a Menifee woman found dead in her swimming pool Monday has been arrested, authorities said.
Justin Charles Smith, the victim’s apparent live-in boyfriend, was taken into custody Monday afternoon. The 29-year-old is suspected of murdering 58-year-old Darlene Flynn.
Flynn was an avid shoe collector and the couple had been featured on the TLC program ‘My Collection Obsession’. Cameras followed Flynn as she purchased her 15,000th shoe-related item and showed off a certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records recognizing her for having 14,684 such items in her home. On the program, Smith and Flynn said they might at a local bar.
“About every six months they’d have a knock-down drag-out,” said neighbor Mike Danford. “And he’d go tearing outta here.”
Neighbors were saddened by the news of her death, but said they were not necessarily surprised at the violence.
“We have heard them fighting in the past,” said neighbor Lisa Renfro. “Because they did have what seemed like a volatile relationship.”
A friend of Flynn’s said her family was trying to reach her and called police when they realized something was wrong.
Sheriff’s deputies had been called to Flynn’s home in the 28800 block of Stone Lane around 2p.m. Monday after receiving calls about a domestic disturbance. Deputies removed Flynn from the pool, where a preliminary examination found that the victim “had injuries consistent with blunt force trauma,” according to Sgt. Todd Torrenti.
Torrenti said deputies saw a shirtless male running from the back of the residence when they attempted to enter the home. Hours later, Smith was located near the intersection of Briggs Rd. And Highway 74 and arrested.
On the TLC show, Smith said that he and Darlene sometimes argued about the amount of shoes she owned, but that he had “learned to just deal with it.” The episode also showed Smith preparing Flynn breakfast in the shape of a shoe, and closed with a shot of the couple dancing by the pool.
She is quoted as saying she would be surrounded by shoes when she died.