Woman with 15,000 pairs of shoes found dead; boyfriend arrested

The boyfriend of a Menifee woman dubbed the Queen of Sole for her extensive shoe collection is being held on suspicion of her murder after she was found in the swimming pool with signs of blunt force trauma.

Riverside County Sheriff’s investigators won’t say if they recovered a weapon from Darlene Flynn’s ranch-style home, which was stuffed with more than 15,000 pairs of shoes.

When deputies responded Monday afternoon to reports of a possible domestic violence incident, they reportedly discovered the woman’s boyfriend, Justin Charles Smith, 29, shirtless and 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 with signs of blunt force trauma.


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

Flynn’s obsession with shoes was documented by the Guinness Book of World Records. Last year, she told a host on a TLC cable-TV show on collections that “I’ll be surrounded by shoes when I die.”

Smith was also featured on the collectors show serving breakfast shaped like a shoe to Flynn.

The couple has had a troubled history, records show. Smith was convicted last year of misdemeanor grand theft from Flynn for taking a car worth more than $400, court records show. He pleaded guilty after prosecutors dropped two felony charges and got 180 days in jail and three years’ probation.

Flynn filed a Small Claims Court action against him.

Anyone with information about Flynn’s death is asked to call Investigator Stites of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Central Homicide Unit at (951) 955-2777, or Detective Rosas of the Menifee Police Department at (951) 210-1000.


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