In May 1996, the story of a missing Cal Poly Student filled our news outlets and television screens. Kristin Smart, a 19-year-old freshman from Stockton, Calif., had vanished over the Memorial Day weekend. After endless searches, countless interviews, investigating one lead after another, the daily reminders started to lesson. Months turned into years, years turned into decades, and today, Smart has been missing longer than she was alive.

23-years later, in late September 2019, new energy was brought to the case. Chris Lambert, a Santa Maria native, started looking into Smart’s disappearance. With the lack of information he found available on the case, Lambert decided he wanted to do more and tell her story in a way that had never been done before. 

Lambert is not a reporter or investigator by trade; he is a musician and a recording engineer who has developed a documentary that has reignited Kristin Smart’s case once again. Through his podcast “Your Own Backyard,” Lambert walks us through the chilling details of the night Smart disappeared and the events that transpired after. He gives us insight into the people closest to Smart, her family, by personal interviews with her parents Stan and Denise Smart, and her friends. The podcast highlights the questions that remained when the media stopped reporting as well as so much more.

Along with Lambert’s determination to tell Smart’s story, a loyal group of community members, both local and national, have been brought together by a special bond, a deep desire to bring Smart home. With tag lines like “Justice for Kristin” and “Warriors for Kristin,” the Facebook group “Find Kristin Smart” has over 16,000 followers. And at the helm, a few dedicated individuals such as Dennis Mahon and Sandee Burns-Hunt keep the fire burning. With daily conversation starters, candlelight vigils, and occasional get-togethers, group members have vowed never to stop fighting for Smart and her family.

One of the original billboards that reminded us that Smart was still missing is located on Branch Street in Arroyo Grande. After all these years, it was old and faded; however, her shining face and deep brown eyes were still evident. With the new inspiration that the podcast brings, a local printing company in Arroyo Grande, Brand Creative West, donated a new sign that was installed on Jan. 5. Along with the sign, the owners also donated bumper stickers and are working on other promotional items with hopes of bringing as much attention to Smart’s 23-year-old case as possible.

The case took a turn on Sunday, January 19, when the Stockton Record released an article that shared statements directly from Kristin Smart’s mother, Denise. According to the report, Denise Smart was recently contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, instructing her to “Be Ready” and to get a spokesperson for the family for the information that will be shared sometime soon will not be what is expected. 

This hopeful information came just days after Chris Lambert was getting ready for a sit-down interview with the lead detective on the Smart case (who recently used DNA to solve a 41-year-old murder.) Lambert also stated that he was inquiring about the anonymous source who told him that the Sheriff had recovered vehicles related to the case. The new interviews and additional information will be released in the upcoming episode of the podcast.

It would seem that Lambert’s podcast is not only informing the community but igniting new leads on the 23-year-old case. The hope shared by many is that with the growing support and momentum, Kristin Smart will finally be brought home.

We will share new updates as they come in weekly on The Paso Robles Press and the Atascadero News. You can find “Your Own Backyard” on your favorite podcast source. 

To connect directly with the organization go to kristinsmart.org or join the Facebook group “Find Kristin Smart”

Editor’s Note: The statute of limitations, in this case, has expired on everything except for murder, anyone who comes forward with any information will not be charged with any crime. 

Contact San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s office at 805.781.4500 or Anonymous Tip Line at 800.549.7867To connect directly with the organization go to kristinsmart.org or join the Facebook group “Find Kristin Smart”

Editor’s Note: The statute of limitations, in this case, has expired on everything except for murder, anyone who comes forward with any information will not be charged with any crime. 

Contact San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s office at 805.781.4500 or Anonymous Tip Line at 800.549.7867