Kristin smart

Kristin Smart Case: A Timeline of Searches and Arrests

Ms. Smart, 19, was a freshman at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo when she disappeared in 1996. She was declared legally dead in 2002.

In the spring of 1996, Kristin Smart, a 19-year-old college student, left an off-campus party in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and walked home to her dormitory.

She was never seen again. No remains have been found.

But on April 13, 2021, after an investigation that spanned nearly a quarter of a century, the authorities announced that two California men — Paul Flores, 44, and his father, Ruben Flores, 80 — had been arrested in connection with her disappearance.

In a statement, the Smart family described a long wait for “this bittersweet day.”

Paul Flores has been charged with murder and Ruben Flores with being an accessory, accused of helping to bury her remains, prosecutors said, and a judge ruled on Sept. 22, 2021, that there was enough evidence for the case to go to trial. The two men have pleaded not guilty.

Here is a timeline of the Smart case.

May 25, 1996

The Disappearance

Ms. Smart, who was from Stockton, Calif., was a freshman at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. On May 25, 1996, friends dropped her off at an off-campus party. She left around 2 a.m. and was accompanied by Paul Flores, who was also a student at Cal Poly. He later told investigators that he walked her as far as his dorm, where they parted ways.

A missing-person report was filed with the campus police on May 28.

The next month, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office took over from the Cal Poly police as the lead investigators.


The Search

The search for Ms. Smart, who was nicknamed Roxy, took many forms. Soon after her disappearance, a sheriff’s search party combed remote parts of the Cal Poly campus on horseback, archival video from KCRA-TV shows. Helicopters were used to canvas the area. The police searched her dorm room in Muir Hall, finding her wallet and reminders to turn in assignments. Cadaver dogs were sent into Paul Flores’s dorm room.

Paul Flores was identified as a “person of interest” early in the case. He has denied any involvement.

Missing-person posters and billboards offering rewards appeared along roads and in other public places. Ms. Smart’s acquaintances were interviewed. They described dropping her off at the party at an unofficial fraternity house, and said that when it was over, she needed support to walk as she was being accompanied home by Paul Flores.

The Smart family filed a $40 million wrongful death lawsuit against Paul Flores in 1997, but he was not immediately charged criminally in the case. He refused to answer questions during a deposition in November 1997, citing the Fifth Amendment.


The Investigation

Ms. Smart’s family declared her legally dead in 2002, but the search, and the investigation, continued. In 2004, the family sought donations to keep billboards up along Highway 101 to maintain awareness of the case, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Cadaver dogs trained to detect human decomposition were deployed by the F.B.I. to search on and near the Cal Poly campus. One of those areas was a hillside above the campus. In 2016, earthmovers carved into the soil there but did not turn up remains.

The Sheriff’s Office investigators and forensic specialists assigned to Ms. Smart’s case executed 18 search warrants, submitted 37 items that were collected in the early days of the case for DNA testing, recovered 140 new items of evidence and conducted 91 interviews from 2011 to 2020, the office said.

The authorities began to describe Paul Flores as a “prime suspect” in the case. In February 2020, the authorities executed search warrants at four locations in California and Washington State and recovered what the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office described as “items of interest.” One location was the Los Angeles home of Paul Flores, KCAL-TV reported.

In March 2021, investigators used cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar to search Ruben Flores’s property in Arroyo Grande, Calif. Paul Flores was taken into custody at his home in the San Pedro section of Los Angeles on April 13, 2021, and was charged with murder. Ruben Flores, 80, was arrested at his home on the same day and was charged with being an accessory after the fact.

The day after the arrests, Dan Dow, the San Luis Obispo County district attorney, said that Paul Flores had “caused the death” of Ms. Smart “while in the commission of, or attempted, rape.” Ruben Flores helped to hide her remains, he said.

On April 19, father and son each pleaded not guilty, according to The Associated Press.

The two men made their first courtroom appearance on July 14 in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, where Judge Craig B. van Rooyen denied the district attorney’s motion to add two rape charges against Paul Flores, The Tribune of San Luis Obispo reported.

On Aug. 2, local media reported that Denise Smart, Ms. Smart’s mother, spoke at a preliminary hearing, where the judge was deciding whether prosecutors had established probable cause to proceed to trial. Other witnesses included students who were at the party.

A San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judge ruled on Sept. 22 that there was sufficient evidence for the case to proceed to trial. “We continue to support the family of Kristin Smart as we work toward justice,” Mr. Dow said in a statement on Twitter after the ruling was issued.

Ms. Smart’s family said in a statement earlier this year that they had faith in the justice system, “comforted in the knowledge that Kristin has been held in the hearts of so many and that she has not been forgotten.”


Kristin Smart case: California man, father plead not guilty to student's alleged 1996 murder

A California man and his father pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the murder of Kristin Smart, a 19-year-old student who disappeared from her college campus 25 years ago.

Paul Flores, 44, and his 80-year-old father Ruben Flores entered the pleas during a pre-trial arraignment in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.


Paul Flores pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in connection with Smart’s suspected death in 1996 after an off-campus party at the California Polytechnic State University campus in San Luis Obispo. 

Ruben Flores pleaded not guilty to being an accessory to murder. Authorities allege the elder Flores helped dispose of Smart’s body, which has never been found.

Paul Flores, left, is charged with first-degree murder in connection to the suspected death of 19-year-old Kristin Smart. Ruben Flores, right, is charged with accessory after the fact. Prosecutors allege the elder Flores helped dispose of Smart's body, which has never been located. (Courtesy | San Luis Obispo County Jail.)

While Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen set a trial date for April 25, 2022, an attorney for Paul Flores said he plans to file a motion to dismiss the case, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reported. The motion is likely to be heard in January.

Paul and Ruben Flores were arrested in April in connection to Smart's disappearance. She was declared legally dead in 2002. Authorities said Paul Flores, who was a 19-year-old college freshman at the time, walked Smart home on May 25, 1996, and was the last person seen with her. 

Prosecutors said he killed Smart while trying to rape her in his dorm room.

This undated photo released by the FBI shows Kristin Smart, the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, student who disappeared in 1996. Paul and Ruben Flores are both charged in connection with her purported death. (FBI via AP, File) (FBI via AP)


During a preliminary hearing last month, prosecutors presented evidence that Smart's body was once buried under a deck shielded by lattice behind Ruben Flores's home. Prosecutors said the body had been moved from that location and it's never been located.

Traces of human blood were found under the deck along with stains in the soil and a disturbance in the earth the size of a human body, according to witnesses.

Van Rooyen said at the time that with the lack of DNA, "nothing links it definitively to Ms. Smart," but added that he had "a strong suspicion it was Ms. Smart’s remains."

Fox News’ Louis Casiano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Kristin Smart billboard

The prime suspect in the Kristin Smart disappearance is arrested and authorities say a podcaster helped make it happen.  

A Major Break

Paul Flores arrest

On April 13, 2021, almost 25 years after Kristin Smart went missing,  longtime prime suspect Paul Flores, 44, was arrested at his home in San Pedro, California, and charged with murder.  At a press conference the next day, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow stated, "It is alleged that Mr. Flores caused the death of Kristin Smart while in the commission of a rape or attempted rape."

A Second Arrest

Ruben Flores arrest

Paul's father Ruben Flores was also arrested in connection with the disappearance of Kristin Smart. The 80-year-old was charged as an accessory after the fact. According to D.A. Dan Dow, "The allegation against Ruben is that he helped to conceal  Kristin's body after the murder was committed."   

Pleading Not Guilty

Paul and Ruben Flores in court

Nearly a week after their arrests, father and son both pleaded not guilty in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. Paul Flores, lower left, will remain in jail without bail while Ruben Flores, upper right, was able to post bail after a judge agreed to lower the bail amount from $250,000 to $50,000.

Kristin Smart

Kristin Smart

On Memorial Day weekend 1996, 19-year-old college freshman Kristin Smart vanished after attending a college party at California Polytechnic State University also known as Cal Poly. 

"Your Own Backyard"


Chris Lambert was 8 years old when Kristin Smart went missing. Twenty-two years later, he released the podcast "Your Own Backyard," which focused on her disappearance.  

A Worried Mother

Denise & Kristin Smart

Two days after her daughter went missing, Denise Smart got a call from Cal Poly's campus police. They told her Kristin had not been seen all weekend and asked them if Kristin was with them. 

Margarita Campos


Campus police thought that Kristin Smart was off having fun and ignored worried friends, like Margarita Campos, who said she was missing. By the time Cal Poly police began investigating, Kristin had been gone for four days.

The Last Person to See Kristin


Fellow student Paul Flores walked Kristin Smart home the night of the party. He was the last person to see Kristin, but authorities waited six days to formally interview him.

What Happened in Saint Lucia Hall?


Paul Flores claimed that after walking Kristin back from the party, he went to his room in Saint Lucia Hall alone. But James Murphy, the Smarts' attorney, says that when the Sheriff's Office later brought cadaver dogs to the Cal Poly dorms they alerted on Paul Flores' room and bed. 

A Black Eye


Two days after Kristin Smart vanished, Paul Flores went to the Arroyo Grande Police Department because of an outstanding DUI warrant.

In his mug shot, you can faintly see a black eye. When asked about how he got the injury Flores told three different stories.


A Bad Reputation


According to James Murphy, Paul Flores had a reputation amongst the girls that knew him at Cal Poly as being a "creeper." Podcaster Chris Lambert learned that another student had told police that he was given the nickname "Chester the molester"… because he was known for groping girls.  



Five months after Kristin Smart disappeared, Paul Flores was brought before a grand jury but no charges were ever filed.

Just weeks later, Kristin's frustrated parents hired attorney James Murphy who filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Paul Flores. In 1997 when Flores was deposed for the civil suit, he kept quiet. The only thing he would confirm on tape was his name.  He invoked the Fifth Amendment 27 times.

A Missing Earring


In October 1996, Mary Lassiter was renting Paul Flores' mother's house in Arroyo Grande when she found a woman's earring in the driveway. She says the jewelry appeared to match a necklace that Kristin Smart was wearing in one of the missing posters. The earring was turned over to a San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office detective, but it was never marked as evidence and was lost.

What's in the Backyard?


Susan Flores' backyard has been the focus of widespread speculation. At the time Kristin Smart disappeared, investigators did not immediately search the home. However, the backyard has been searched three times over the past two decades and no evidence has been found.

A New Sheriff in Town


In 2011, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson was sworn into office. Since Parkinson came on the scene investigators have dug up hillsides, searched the homes and properties of all the Flores', collected evidence, seized Paul's computers, monitored his cell phone and text messages, and found new witnesses. Some with the help of Chris Lambert.

A Word from Cal Poly


In statement to CBS News, Cal Poly said, "Our hearts continue to go out to Kristin Smart's family. We cannot imagine the pain they have endured over the years, and we hope this investigation leads to answers. We are cooperating fully with the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office."

24 Years Later

Paul Flores and Jonathan Vigliotti

A few months before Paul Flores was arrested, CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti tracked Flores down to try and find out what happened to Kristin Smart.  

Where is Kristin?

Ruben Flores property search

In March 2021, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office served a search warrant at the Arroyo Grande home of Ruben Flores. Authorities haven't revealed what was found because there is a gag order in place, however Sheriff Ian Parkinson was able to confirm that forensic physical evidence that authorities believe is linked to Kristin was located at, at least two homes. In a civil lawsuit, the Smarts attorney claims that Kristin's remains were buried at one time on Paul Flores' father's property.

Arrests Made

Paul and Ruben Flores booking photos

On April 13, 2021, investigators charged the now 44-year-old Paul Flores with Kristin Smart's murder, and his 80-year-old father as an accessory after the fact.

On September 22, 2021, a judge ruled both men will stand trial.

Kristin Smart's Legacy

Kristin Smart

The Smarts keep the memory of their daughter alive through the Kristin Smart scholarship. Its goal is to help young women pursue their hopes, ambitions, and impact the world in the same way Kristin had hoped. 


Attorney for Kristin Smart's family discusses upcoming trial

Paul Flores, the person last seen with Kristin Smart before she vanished from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 25 years ago, will now stand trial on a murder charge in her suspected death — while his father, Ruben Flores, will stand trial as an accomplice.

After a 22-day preliminary hearing, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen said there is enough probable cause to make Paul and Ruben Flores stand trial in the disappearance of Kristin Smart. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

The Smart’s family lawyer, James Murphy, said it’ll be an agonizing trial for Kristin Smart's parents, Stan and Denise. 

“It’s going to be a tough case. They’ll have to testify, they’ll have to face the attacks of the defense lawyers," Murphy said. "But what did I tell Stan? ‘Hey Stan, you’re 72. You don’t have another 25 years where we can let this thing sit on the backburner. The time is now.'”

Murphy has been the Smart’s family lawyer ever since their daughter went missing in 1996. 

“Their goal is to find their daughter," Murphy said. " If they can’t get that, then putting the perpetrators behind bars would be an enormous satisfaction.”

Murphy said while it is difficult to convict someone for murder without a body, it’s not impossible. While Kristin’s body has never been found, Murphy said the family still hopes to one day give their daughter a proper burial.

“The meaning of burial, why is it so important?" Murphy asked. "Because it kind of sews up a bit, the hole in the heart that is left by these catastrophic losses.”

Judge Van Rooyen hasn’t yet decided whether the trial will take place in SLO County, or be transferred outside the area. But Murphy said he’s confident wherever the trial is held, that the evidence will speak for itself.

“This is a human story," Murphy said. "This is two parents that love their kid so much, and their child disappeared under suspicious circumstances. I think the evidence will translate over county lines.”

Murphy said if Paul and Ruben Flores are acquitted, he’ll try a civil suit against the pair. 

Paul Flores’ lawyer, Robert Sanger, said he doesn’t comment on active cases, and even if he did, the judge has ordered all parties in the case not to talk about it publicly. 
Flores' attorney requested that the gag order should also apply to the Smart family's attorney, but that motion was denied by Judge Van Rooyen since James Murphy only represents the Smarts in the civil suit.


Smart kristin

Disappearance of Kristin Smart

American woman – presumed raped and murdered in 1996

Kristin Denise Smart (born February 20, 1977,[1][6] legally presumed dead May 25, 2002) was an American woman who is presumed to have been abducted, raped, and killed at the end of her freshman year of college on the campus of California Polytechnic State University. Three fellow students escorted Smart back to her hall of residence after an off-campus party; two of them asked the third, Paul Flores, to complete the trip. After Flores completed the trip with Smart, she was never seen again.

On May 25, 1996, at California Polytechnic State University, Smart attended a birthday party of a friend. At approximately 2 a.m., she was found passed out on a neighbor's lawn, and two students helped her walk to her dorm room. A third student named Paul Flores joined the group due to the close proximity of his dorm to Smart's. Paul Flores told the other two students he would get Kristin home safely. This was the last known sighting of her.

Originally, authorities believed she was on an unannounced vacation. Between 1996 and 2007, there were various searches for her, with none being successful in finding her.

Her disappearance resulted in state legislation, including the Kristin Smart Campus Security Act, a bill which requires all public colleges and publicly funded educational institutions to have their security services make agreements with local police departments about reporting cases involving or possibly involving violence against students, including missing students. The bill was passed unanimously by the California State Legislature and was signed into law by governor Pete Wilson.

On April 13, 2021, Paul Flores and his father, Ruben Flores, were arrested and taken into custody on suspicion of Smart's disappearance. Their homes were searched, and investigators found numerous "items of interest".


Kristin Denise Smart was born February 20, 1977, in Augsburg, Bavaria, West Germany, to Stan and Denise Smart, both teachers to children of American military personnel. She had one brother and one sister. When she was a child, Smart moved with her family to Stockton, California. She attended and graduated from Lincoln High School in Stockton, California in 1995. Before her disappearance, she worked as a lifeguard and camp counselor at Camp Mokuleia, Hawaii.[7]


Kristin Smart enrolled at California Polytechnic State University, or Cal Poly, in San Luis Obispo, California in 1996. On the night she disappeared, which fell on Memorial Day weekend, on May 25, 1996, she attended a birthday party where she didn't know anyone at a fraternity house. Her friend did not want to attend the party, so she dropped her off.[8]

At approximately 2 a.m. she was found passed out on a neighbor's lawn by two fellow students, Cheryl Anderson and Tim Davis, who both had just left the party.[8][9] They helped Smart to her feet and decided to walk her back to her nearby dormitory. Another student from the party, Paul Flores, joined their group and offered to help the two return Smart to her dorm room.

Davis departed the group first since he lived off campus and had driven to the party. Anderson was the second to depart the group, heading to Sierra Madre Hall, after she told Flores that he could walk Smart back to her dorm, since he lived closer.[10] Flores stated to police that he walked Smart as far as his dormitory, Santa Lucia Hall, and then allowed her to walk back to her Muir Hall dorm by herself.[11] This was the last known sighting of her. She did not have any money or credit cards at the time she went missing.[12]

Official investigation[edit]

The University Police Department[13] originally suspected that Smart had gone on an unannounced vacation, as was common among students over the holidays, and as a result were slow in reporting her as a missing person to local law enforcement. She was only reported missing after a week, despite her family calling the police earlier.

Several volunteers searched for her. Some of them were riding horses, and some used ground-penetrating radar devices.[8]

During the Laci Peterson murder investigation, there were unfounded rumors in the media that Laci's husband Scott Peterson had something to do with Smart's disappearance due to their simultaneous attendance at the Cal Poly campus.[14] There was a brief initial inquiry into whether Peterson was tied to the disappearance, with Peterson denying any involvement, and he was eventually ruled out as a suspect by police.[15]

Although her body was never discovered, what might have been Smart's earring was found by a tenant at the former residence of Paul Flores's mother. This earring was not marked as evidence and has since been lost by the police.[16] Between 1996 and 2007, various searches for her remains and other evidence were conducted, some using cadaver dogs trained to detect the scent of human remains, including searches of properties owned by the Flores family. No useful leads were found for nearly two decades.[17]

On September 6, 2016, officials from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office announced they were investigating a new lead in the case.[18] Cadaver dogs from the FBI were brought in and investigators were preparing to spend approximately four days excavating an area on the Cal Poly campus.[18] After three days, items were found at all three dig sites located on the same hillside near Smart's dorm. A spokesman for the sheriff's office said, "The items are being analyzed to see whether they are connected to the case, which could take days, weeks or months".[19] The items uncovered are still being investigated as of 2020[update].[20]

On April 20, 2021, it was announced by the prosecutor that they believe Kristin's body had been buried beneath the deck of Ruben Flores' home, but had recently been removed. Biological evidence was found by using ground penetrating radar and cadaver dogs.[21]

Legal proceedings[edit]

Smart was declared legally dead on May 25, 2002, the sixth anniversary of her disappearance.[22] In 2005, her parents, Denise and Stan Smart, filed a civil case of wrongful death against Flores, one of the three students who walked Smart to her dorm. The Smart family was represented by James R Murphy,[23] on a pro bono basis. The suit was dropped due to lack of evidence after Flores pled the Fifth amendment. In 2006 or 2007, the Flores family filed a lawsuit against the Smart family for emotional distress, but the lawsuit never resulted in a judgment.[17]

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office regularly reviewed the case, and spent thousands of hours and dollars during the period 2011–2016.[24] The FBI have her on file as a high priority missing person investigation, with a reward of $75,000 for information leading to finding her or resolving her case.[25] Terry Black, a Delta-area man, offered a $100,000 reward for Smart's body.[26]

Beginning September 30, 2019, musician Chris Lambert released a series of ten podcast episodes.[27] The podcast recounts, in detail, Kristin's probable abduction and subsequent death at the hands of another student on the campus of California Polytechnic State University over 24 years ago. The podcast has been downloaded over twelve million times. Renewed public interest led to a new billboard being put up in Arroyo Grande in January 2020 to replace the original, which had been up since 1997.[28]

On January 18, 2020, the Stockton Record reported that the FBI informed Smart's family that additional news about her disappearance would be coming and that the family "might want to get away for a while" but did not provide any specific information. However, on January 22, 2020, The Record issued a correction: the FBI did not contact the Smart family; rather, a retired FBI agent who had been in contact with the family for years was the source of the advice.[29][30] On January 29, 2020, the San Luis Obispo police department confirmed that two trucks owned by Flores had been taken in as evidence.[31] On February 5, 2020, search warrants were served for "specific items of evidence" at four different locations – two in San Luis Obispo, one in Washington state, and at a home in Los Angeles County.[32] Flores was briefly detained during the search.[33][34][35]

On April 22, 2020, the Los Angeles Times reported that a search warrant was served at the home of Paul Flores in San Pedro, California. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department assisted detectives from San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Department in the search.[36] It was reported that numerous "items of interest" were successfully found during the search.[37] The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department is now continuing the investigation but no further public information is available at this time. Those items of interest included computer towers, cell phones, and electronics decades old.

On February 11, 2021, KSBY reported that Paul Flores was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm, which is a felony.[38] On March 15, 2021, a search warrant was issued to search Ruben Flores' home, including the use of cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar. An older-model Volkswagen was towed from the home of Ruben Flores after cadaver dogs searched the vehicle.[39] On April 13, 2021, Paul Flores and his father Ruben Flores were taken into custody by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department in relation to the case. Paul Flores was charged with murder; Ruben Flores was charged with being an accessory.[40][41] Investigations later concluded that Paul Flores attempted to rape Smart, although Dan Dow, District Attorney of the County of San Luis Obispo, has stated that the statute of limitations has expired on a sexual assault charge, but murder committed in the course of rape or attempted rape justified first-degree felony murder charges.[42][43]



Smart's disappearance and slow response by the campus police resulted in the Kristin Smart Campus Security Act being written and sponsored by State SenatorMike Thompson, passed 61–0 by the California State Legislature, and signed into effect by then-GovernorPete Wilson on August 19, 1998. The law took effect on January 1, 1999, and requires all public colleges and publicly funded educational institutions to have their security services make agreements with local police departments about reporting cases involving or possibly involving violence against students, including missing students.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ab"1652DFCA – Kristin Denise Smart". Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  2. ^20 years after Kristin Smart vanished, authorities unearth 'items of interest' in campus dig
  3. ^Who was Kristin Smart? The missing Cal Poly student was happy, energetic and always smiling, Visalia Times-Delta
  4. ^Missing Person: Kristin Denise Smart, FBI
  5. ^"Kristin Denise Smart – The Charley Project". Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  6. ^Who was Kristin?
  7. ^ abc"The long, twisted, frustrating road to an arrest in the disappearance of Kristin Smart". Los Angeles Times. April 13, 2021. Retrieved April 14, 2021.
  8. ^Winton, Richard (September 7, 2016). "Cal Poly student Kristin Smart vanished 20 years ago. Now, authorities are digging the campus for her body". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 7, 2016.
  9. ^Townsend, Catherine (September 8, 2016). "A New Investigation Into The Disappearance of Kristin Smart, Who Vanished From Her College Campus 20 Years Ago - CrimeFeed". CrimeFeed. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  10. ^"Where is Kristin Smart? 19 years later, Cal Poly student still missing". Mustang News Staff. Mustang News. May 28, 2015. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  11. ^Ellis, Ralph (September 7, 2016). "A break in a cold case on Cal Poly campus". CNN. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  12. ^"University Police Department". Cal Poly, Administration & Finance. California Polytechnic State University.
  13. ^"Search for missing woman fruitless". USA Today. Associated Press. January 18, 2003. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  14. ^"No link found to missing student". modbee. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  15. ^"The Kristin Smart disappearance". CBS. November 27, 2020. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  16. ^ abLambert, Cynthia (September 7, 2016). "Searches for Kristin Smart spanned from Cal Poly to Paul Flores' home". The Tribune. San Luis Obispo. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  17. ^ abScholl, Claire (September 6, 2016). "SLO County Sheriff, FBI Begin Excavation at Cal Poly campus in Search for Missing Kristin Smart". KEYT. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  18. ^Morgan Winsor; Roger Lee; Kayna Whitworth (September 9, 2016). "Kristin Smart's Family Is Cautiously Hopeful as Excavation Begins at Cal Poly". ABC News. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  19. ^Matt Fountain (March 3, 2017). "Kristin Smart investigation continues 6 months after Cal Poly excavation". The Tribune. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  20. ^"Document: Kristin Smart once buried in suspect's backyard". Retrieved April 21, 2021.
  21. ^ABC News. "Laci Presence Hangs Over Kristin Smart". ABC News. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  22. ^"Smart v. Flores". James R. Murphy, Jr., A Law Corporation. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  23. ^"Sheriff's detectives searching for Kristin Smart's remains at Cal Poly". Paso Robles Daily News. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  24. ^Carlton, April (May 31, 2016). "Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart missing for 20 years". Napa Valley Register. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  25. ^Thompson, Ellen (May 24, 2007). "Family hopes for break in Smart case". Retrieved September 7, 2016.
  26. ^SLO Tribune. "Kristin Smart podcast details missing Cal Poly student's case". SLO Tribune. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  27. ^KSBY News. "Arroyo Grande business donates new billboard for Kristin Smart". KSBY News. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  28. ^Highfill, Bob (January 18, 2020). "Could answers be coming in Kristin Smart's disappearance?". Stockton Record. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  29. ^"FBI reportedly tells mom of woman missing since 1996 to "be ready" for unexpected news".
  30. ^Leslie, Kaytlyn; Fountain, Matt (January 29, 2020). "Kristin Smart update: SLO sheriff confirms 2 key pieces of evidence in missing person case". The Tribune. San Luis Obispo, California. Archived from the original on January 30, 2020.
  31. ^Burke, Minyvonne; Blankstein, Andrew; Li, David K. (February 5, 2020). "Search warrants served in 1996 disappearance of California college student Kristin Smart". NBC News. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  32. ^"Classmate of Kristin Smart Briefly Detained, Police Search Home Decades After Her Disappearance". Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  33. ^"Paul Flores detained in disappearance of Kristin Smart". Cal Coast News. February 5, 2020. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  34. ^Levenson, Michael (February 5, 2020). "'Items of Interest' Recovered in Case of Kristin Smart, Missing Since 1996 (Published 2020)". The New York Times.
  35. ^"Kristin Smart cold case: New warrant served at San Pedro home of former classmate". Los Angeles Times. April 22, 2020.
  36. ^Paul Vercammen, Stella Chan and Theresa Waldrop. "Kristin Smart case: Investigators find 'items of interest' in home search". CNN. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  37. ^"Paul Flores, person-of-interest in Kristin Smart case, arrested on weapons charge in Southern California". KSBY. February 11, 2021. Retrieved February 11, 2021.
  38. ^"Sheriff's deputies search Paul Flores's family home in Arroyo Grande with cadaver dogs, ground-penetrating radar". KSBY. March 15, 2021. Retrieved March 15, 2021.
  39. ^"Live: Paul Flores arrested in connection with Kristin Smart case". KSBY. April 13, 2021. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  40. ^Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk (April 13, 2021). "'Prime suspect,' his father charged in 1996 disappearance, murder of student Kristin Smart". Retrieved April 14, 2021.
  41. ^Diaz, Johnny (April 14, 2021). "Kristin Smart Was Killed During Attempted Rape, Prosecutor Says". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 14, 2021.
  42. ^"Kristin Smart, who disappeared in 1996, may have been raped and killed in a college dorm, prosecutor says". CNN News.

General sources[edit]

External links[edit]


The Disappearance of Kristin Smart: What Happened and What’s Next

Nineteen-year-old Cal Poly student Kristin Smart went missing after a campus party 25 years ago, and, this summer, her case is finally getting its day in court. In April, Paul Flores, 44, was arrested on one count of murder in connection to the case, and his father, Ruben Flores, 80, was arrested as an accessory after the fact.

The younger Flores has long been the only person of interest in Smart’s disappearance; she was last seen on May 25th, 1996, after attending a party near campus. After apparently becoming intoxicated, Smart headed back to her dorm with fellow partiers Tim Davis and Cheryl Anderson. Flores, who had been seen with Smart earlier in the evening — he attempted to flirt with her and apparently fell on her at one point, according to witnesses — joined the group and allegedly accompanied Smart home. She was never seen again and her body has not been located.

The search for Smart did not begin until a week after her disappearance, as campus police refused to take a missing person’s report from a dorm mate; the hunt only began in earnest after the student called the police and the Smart family.

Flores was first interviewed by Cal Poly police investigators near the end of May 1996, according to The San Luis Obispo Tribune, and the Cal Poly police didn’t search his room until June 10th. By then, the semester was over and the room had been cleaned out. The county sheriff’s office searched his room once more during the weekend of June 29th, when a team of cadaver dogs signaled the smell of human decay.

Flores and his parents have always maintained that he had nothing to do with Smart’s disappearance. Paul invoked the Fifth Amendment when the DA’s office subpoenaed him to testify before a grand jury in 1996 and after the Smarts filed a $40 million wrongful-death lawsuit against him; during a 1997 deposition, he again pleaded the Fifth. Smart was declared dead in 2002.

The case recently reentered the public eye with the 2019 launch of the popular true-crime podcast, Your Own Backyard, hosted by musician Chris Lambert, who has spent his life haunted by a missing person’s billboard featuring Smart’s face. “True crime podcasting is not something that particularly captivated me,” Lambert told Rolling Stone last year. “But it was a local story and the thing that stood out to me is that nobody was talking about it anymore. I didn’t understand why. How are we not all talking about this every day until she’s found?”

After Paul and Ruben’s arrests, Sheriff Ian Parkinson revealed that Lambert’s podcast helped move the investigation forward. “What Chris did was take a local story and turn it into an international story. … It did produce some information that I believe was valuable,” he said.

Denise Smart, Kristin’s mother, has also praised the show. “We feel like the stars aligned when the podcast aired,” she told Rolling Stone. “It encouraged the previously reluctant to come forward.… This obviously gave law enforcement new leads to follow and connect with what they already were holding close.”

Prior to the arrests, in February 2020, Flores’ home, his parents’ home, and his sister’s home were searched by police. They seized digital devices during the search and, in April 2020, executed another search on Paul Flores’ property in San Pedro.

Below, Rolling Stone outlines where the Smart case is now:

April 14th, 2021

San Luis Obispo District Attorney Dan Dow announces charges against Paul Flores and his father Ruben in connection with what he calls the 1996 “homicide” of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart.

Paul Flores is charged with first-degree murder and is accused of killing Smart while attempting to rape her. The elder Flores is charged with accessory after the fact to the crime of murder for allegedly helping Paul conceal Smart’s body.

“These charges mark a major milestone,” Dow says in a statement. “Today, we make the first move toward bringing justice to Kristin, her family, and the people of San Luis Obispo County.”

April 19th, 2021

Paul Flores pleads not guilty to the murder and attempted rape of Smart. His father, Ruben Flores, pleads not guilty to being an accessory to the crime after the fact.

Paul Flores isn’t granted bail, with Judge Craig B. Van Rooyen saying that his release could result in “great bodily harm” to the public. Ruben will be released on bail that he can afford.

July 14th, 2021

Paul and Ruben Flores appear at the San Luis Obispo Superior Court for the first time, at which time Judge Craig van Rooyen denies Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle’s request to add two rape charges against Paul, according to The Tribune of San Luis Obispo.

“There’s no evidence of a sex crime in the charged crime (the murder case) itself,” van Rooyen says. “Proof of the L.A. charges can’t act as a substitute … for the SLO case.”

July 15th, 2021

Previously sealed documents related to the case become available to the public that explain the rape charges Peurelle attempted to add against Paul Flores. The unsealed documents include two claims from 2011 and 2017 that Flores raped two women while they were drunk in San Pedro. It also expounds on several other alleged rapes as well as unwanted sexual advances.

Also included is the result of a February 4th, 2020 search of Paul Flores’ San Pedro home, where San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s investigators seized electronic devices that featured videos showing Flores having sex with seemingly incapacitated women. They also uncovered videos in a folder labeled “practice” that featured women wearing ball gags and in other fetish positions. Flores was also in possession of Tramadol and Flexeril, known as “date rape” drugs.

In addition, the documents include a phone tap from January 2020 in which Paul’s mother, Susan, tells her son: “The other thing I need you to do is to start listening to the podcast. I need you to listen to everything they say so we can punch holes in it. Um, wherever we can punch holes. Maybe we can’t. You, you’re the one that can tell me,” a reference to Lambert’s Your Own Backyard, the podcast about Smart and Flores that has brought new attention to the case.

Additionally, the documents include information about a March 15th, 2021 search by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office of Ruben Flores’ Arroyo Grande property that included ground-penetrating radar. That technology uncovered a soil disturbance under the deck as well as four soil samples that tested positive for human blood; an April evacuation also tested positive for blood. Authorities also uncovered fibers consistent with the color clothing Smart was last seen wearing.

August 3rd, 2021

The evidentiary hearing is underway and witnesses are testifying in front of Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen about Flores’ interactions with Smart. On day two, August 3rd, a close friend of Smart’s from college, Steven Flemming, tells the court that Flores had interacted with Smart before the party they both attended prior to her disappearance. Once, he says, Flores was “lurking” in the lobby of Smart’s dorm at 1 a.m.; another time, he says he saw the man in Smart’s dorm room. He says Smart seemed uncomfortable but was too nice to ask the boy to leave.

“Everyone knew Paul (Flores) was creepy. A lot of women felt uncomfortable around him,” Flemming says. “He was not welcome.”

Defense attorney Robert Sanger, in turn, tries to poke holes in Flemming’s recollections. Other witnesses are also questioned, but Flemming’s testimony is noteworthy as he is the first to say he saw Flores and Smart together before the party.

August 6th, 2021

Recently unsealed court documents show the extent to which law enforcement has looked into Flores over the years: 48 search warrants involving wiretaps and GPS tracking, and a search of  Flores’ former Cal Poly dorm room. The defense wants to suppress some of these searches, though, claiming that they were done illegally or without warrants. The prosecution upholds the validity of these searches, including one of Flores’ dorm room that was done after he moved out.

The documents also include several people the defense believes investigators should have looked into in addition to Flores, including convicted murderer and fellow then-student Scott Peterson, who was previously ruled out. Peterson may or may not have been at the party Smart disappeared after. Other men cited by the defense either reportedly dated or pursued Smart.

“Despite the fact that law enforcement had collected substantial evidence that Kristin Smart may have had reason not to return to her dorm room after leaving (fellow party-goers) Cheryl (Manzer) Anderson and Paul Flores and despite the fact that they had collected substantial evidence that there were multiple potential suspects who stalked, harassed or otherwise had conflicts with Kristin Smart, law enforcement made an early choice to change their ‘focus’ to murder and to Paul Flores as the ‘only suspect,’” Sanger wrote in a defense motion.

“There is no evidence of a murder and no evidence of a rape,” Sanger added. “After over 25 years, there is no evidence that Paul Flores committed the crimes for which there is no evidence.”

August 10th, 2021

Flores’ defense team serves Your Own Backyard podcaster Chris Lambert with a subpoena to serve as a witness in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on August 30th, as he has interviewed several witnesses before they spoke to law enforcement. The defense also tells Lambert he will not be allowed back in the courtroom — where he has been covering the hearing — as he is now a potential witness.

Judge van Rooyen objects to this assertion, though: “Just because (Lambert’s) been served does not necessarily mean he should be excluded,” he says. “I’m not going to exclude a member of the media (for doing their job).”

August 11th, 2021

Flores’ defense team moves to recuse the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office from the Smart case because prosecutor Peuvrelle and others have been seen wearing purple clothing, Smart’s favorite color.

The defense claims the prosecution is wearing said color “as a result of a Facebook request on the site ‘Justice for Kristin Smart'” to wear purple during a Memorial Day celebration. Defense Attorney Sanger calls the move a “stunning lack of objectivity.”

August 25th, 2021

The judge rules that the DA cannot be disqualified for wearing purple clothing.

September 8th, 2021

Podcaster Lambert will not be called to the stand during the Kristin Smart murder hearing. Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen rules that having the podcaster testify — and release his records — would have a “chilling effect” on the media’s ability to do their job.

Meanwhile, the hearing is scheduled to conclude on Friday, when the judge will rule if prosecutors have probable cause to go to trial.

September 20th, 2021

Testimony resumes at the Kristin Smart hearing after a week off. Witness Jennifer Hudson takes the stand, where she tells the court that, in 1996, when she was 17 years old, Flores laughingly told her he had “taken care of” Smart. She feared for her life, so did not tell anyone at the time — or for years after. “I was afraid I’d end up missing or buried someplace,” she says. She adds that Flores said he put Smart under a skateboard ramp in Arroyo Grande.

“He had a smirk when he said it, like it was a joke,” she says. “Anyone would have been terrified if they heard it.”

The defense questions Hudson about her drug use, but she says she was not doing drugs at the time.

September 22nd, 2021

After a lengthy hearing, San Luis Obispo County Judge Craig B. Van Rooyen rules that Flores will be tried for murder in the 1996 disappearance of Smart. His father, Ruben, will be tried as an accessory to the crime.

September 23rd, 2021

Smart’s family issues a statement following the news about Flores going to trial: “Yesterday was a very good day and we want to take this opportunity to thank all of Kristin’s supporters in San Luis Obispo and beyond.  So many people have played such important roles over the past 25 years, and we are humbled by the amazing support and generosity we have received. We want to especially thank the District Attorney’s Office for their relentless efforts. Our family has always known that this was going to be a long, difficult, and emotional journey. We are now one step closer to justice for Kristin.  She — and all who have worked so hard toward this day — deserve nothing less.”


Similar news:

Man accused of killing Kristin Smart pleads not guilty

Paul Flores, 44, faces a first-degree murder charge for allegedly killing Smart in his dorm room in California. Prosecutors say Flores raped or attempted to rape Smart, who was then a freshman at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.
Flores and his father were arrested in April after a 25-year search to find Smart, who was last seen near her Cal Poly dorm on May 25, 1996. She was never found and was declared dead in 2002.
Ruben Flores, 80, who faces an accessory charge, also pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors have said he helped hide Smart's body.
Their next court date is a pretrial hearing December 6.
Paul Flores has been the prime suspect in the decades-long missing persons case. Officials have said Flores, who was a 19-year-old freshman at the time, walked Smart home and was the last person to see her that day.
In documents filed in the case, a sheriff's office detective stated investigators are "in possession of biological evidence that makes them believe the victim was buried underneath (Ruben Flores') deck at one time."

CNN's Steve Almasy and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.


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