Well over two decades since Kristin Smart went missing, two arrests have been made in connection to the infamous case.
On Tuesday, police arrested Paul Flores — Kristin’s former classmate at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo — and charged him with suspicion of murder.
Booking records obtained by various news outlets also confirm that Paul’s father, Ruben Flores, was arrested on suspicion of accessory to murder and is being held on $250,000 bond.
Smart was a college student who vanished in 1996 at the age of 19 on her way home from a party — and whose body still has not been found.
Upon making these arrests, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said at the press conference yesterday:
“Until we return Kristin to them [her family] it is not over. We are committed to them. We are not going to stop until Kristin is recovered.”
Parkinson did not provide any details to the public in regard to why these suspects were taken into custody.
He did emphasize, however, that since 2011, the sheriff’s office has:
- Served served more than 41 search warrants.
- Conducted physical searches of many different locations.
- Submitted more than 37 items for DNA testing.
- Recovered 193 items of new physical evidence.
- And sat down for over 130 interviews.
“I am confident we have enough of a case to prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” Parkinson added.
According to NBC News, a friend of Kristin’s told authorities they saw her and Paul returning to campus on the night she went missing.
Despite no body every being discovered, Smart was legally declared dead in 2002.
In 2019, the podcast In Your Own Backyard sparked renewed interest in the incident, as it reexamined the investigation into Kristin’s disappearance; as well as Paul and his family’s whereabouts before, during and after May 25, 1996.
Fast forward about a year, to April 2020, and authorities served a search warrant at Paul’s Los Angeles-area residence.
At the time, the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office stated that they were looking for “specific items of evidence.”
The office also stated back then that Paul “continues to be a person of interest.”
Then just this past March, per the Los Angeles Times, authorities used cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar to search Ruben’s Arroyo Grande, California house.
On Tuesday, cops confirmed “forensic, physical evidence” relating to the case was discovered during searches at both residences.
Flores invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent when he was deposed in a 2005 wrongful death civil lawsuit brought against him by Smart’s parents, which they ultimately dropped.
A spokesperson for Kristin’s family, meanwhile, spoke to CNN after these arrests were made on Tuesday.
This individual said there were “a lot of prayers, astonishment, excitement, happiness, and of course sadness.
“Sadness, because this has gone on for 25 years. The Smart family had not been able to bury their daughter. There was no closure.”