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Guinness shoe record-holder dead in pool; boyfriend to be arraigned

Crime, Law and JusticeCrimeU.S. Environmental Protection Agency

A friend of the late Menifee woman who boasted the Guinness World Record for shoe-related items said she had been in a rocky relationship with the man now being held on suspicion of murder in her death.

Darlene Flynn, 58, was found dead earlier this week in the backyard pool of her Menifee home, and her 29-year-old boyfriend, Justin Charles Smith, was arrested after officers found him running shirtless from the Stone Lane residence.

A friend of Flynn's, 71-year-old Lenore Rice, told the Press-Enterprise in Riverside that Flynn and Smith's relationship had been "volatile" and that they were no longer together.

In June of last year, Flynn posted a message on her Facebook page indicating the break-up, the newspaper reported.

"Lost 25 lbs. since I got off the Justin roller coaster ride ... YAHOO!" Flynn wrote.

It's unclear if investigators have recovered a weapon from Flynn's ranch-style home, but they did say Flynn was found with signs of blunt force trauma.

Court records also show signs of a troubled relationship. Last year, Smith was convicted of misdemeanor grand theft from Flynn for taking a car. He pleaded guilty after prosecutors dropped two felony charges and he got 180 days in jail and three years' probation.

Flynn filed a Small Claims Court action against him.

Deputies responded Monday afternoon to reports of a possible domestic violence incident, and found Smith with no shirt running from the Stone Lane home.

Shortly after Smith was apprehended near Briggs Road and Highway 74, deputies found Flynn, 58, dead in the backyard pool.

Authorities have yet to release an official cause of death. Smith is expected to be arraigned Thursday.

In September 2012, Guinness World Records reported that Flynn's collection of 14,684 shoe-related items was the largest on the planet.

The items included a replica of Cinderella's glass slipper and "takes over the entire house, spilling over into the pool and bar areas as well," according to a Guinness World Records release. Her two dogs were named Shoesy-Q and Bootsy Shoebert.

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Twitter: @aribloomekatz | Facebook

ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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