Woman With World's Largest Shoe Collection Murdered, Boyfriend Arrested [UPDATED]
Police believe a woman who was in the Guinness Book of World records and featured on TLC's My Collection Obsession for having amassed 15,000 shoe-related items was killed by her much younger boyfriend.
Officials say they found the lifeless body of Darlene Flynn, 58, in the backyard pool of her home in Menifee on Monday. Her body showed signs of blunt-force trauma. They arrested her boyfriend, Justin Smith, 29, after he allegedly attempted to flee the scene, according to Good Morning America.
After neighbors reported a fight, police arrived at Flynn's home, discovered the body and saw a shirtless man running away from the backyard, whom they later caught and identified as Smith.
Neighbor Steven Danford told ABC 7 that the couple had a rocky past.
"I'd hear her yelling. They'd be fighting a little bit, every couple of months or so," Danford said. "He'd be fighting with her, and he'd take off, and come back a couple hours later. They just did not get along real well ... but he kept coming back."
Flynn decorated her modest home with shoe-shaped furniture, lamps, jewelry, ornaments, and even a phone in the shape of a shoe.
"I have spent so much money on my collection over the years, a couple hundred thousand. I work 60 to 80 hours a week and I barely make my house payment," Flynn admitted in the TLC episode, which aired on August 21, 2011.
As is often the case on reality shows about people who collect obsessively, Smith, who appeared in the episode, didn't always agree with her collecting. "Darlene and I sometimes argue about her shoes," he said. "Sometimes I think she gets too many shoes, but I learned to just deal with it."
Flynn said in her episode that she'd like to die surrounded by shoes, according to TruTv.com.
Flynn has her own website called Dar's Shoe Heaven, with a photo of her holding up a sign that read, "I can never have too many shoes." The site also featured pictures of her with her dogs, one of whom was called "Shoesy."
Smith was expected to be arraigned today.
UPDATE, JULY 26, 8:05 A.M.: ABC News is reporting that Flynn and Smith were no longer dating and that he was actually on probation at the time of the murder and had been ordered to stay away from Flynn.
John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, explained why Flynn was on probation: "It was a case in which he was charged with...taking her car and selling it without her permission."
According to the criminal complaint, Smith allegedly used a baseball bat to kill Flynn. His arraignment on Thursday was continued; he will have to wait two more weeks before entering a plea.