Nearly twenty-five years since her disappearance, authorities believe they have solved the mystery of what happened to missing California college student Kristin Smart.
The nineteen-year-old California Polytechnic State University freshman was last seen on Memorial Day weekend in 1996 after she left an off-campus party on Friday night. Paul Flores, now 43, offered to walk Smart back to her dorm room and she was never seen again.
Smart was reported missing three days later, but a search wasn’t launched until two more days had passed, in what San Luis Obispo Sheriff Ian Parkinson admitted was an early misstep in the investigation.
Flores, who claims to have returned to have parted with Smart when he reached his dorm room, became a prime suspect over the years but maintained he was innocent. Police were never able to bring charges against him and the case went cold.
A 2019 podcast dedicated to the case, called “Your Own Backyard,” reignited public interest in the investigation and led to never before interviewed witnesses to come forward. In April 2020, a search of Flores’ San Pedro home revealed evidence related to Smart’s disappearance.
Flores was arrested on Tuesday for the first-degree murder of Kristin Smart, his 80-year-old father, Ruben, was taken into custody as an accessory to the murder. San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow claims that the younger Flores killed Smart in his dorm room during an attempted rape and his father helped him conceal her body.
Investigators began searching Ruben’s Arroyo Grande property on Tuesday, they have yet to find Smart’s remains, but believe they know where it is located. “We have not recovered Kristin. We’ll continue to focus on finding her remains regardless of any court action,” said Parkinson commented.