Arrest Made of Longtime Prime Suspect In Kristin Smart's Unsolved 1996 Murder

Arrest Made of Longtime Prime Suspect In Kristin Smart's Unsolved 1996 Murder”

Prosecutors filed a first-degree murder charge against Paul Flores and an accessory after murder charge against his father, Ruben Flores, for helping him hide Smart's body, which has never been found, District Attorney Dan Dow said.

"So what I can tell you is that significant new information has come in to the sheriff's office that we've read over the last two years, and some very important information just a month ago", Dow said at a news conference Wednesday. His father, Ruben Flores, 80, was arrested at his Arroyo Grande home - about 15 miles (24 kilometers) south of the university.

Flores' father, Ruben, also was arrested at his home in the city of Arroyo Grande, according to news outlets.

"Items of interest" were discovered during those searches, investigators said. Authorities have not found Smart's remains and are continuing to search for them, Sheriff Ian Parkinson said Tuesday.

"Driving past that billboard was a periodic reminder that, oh yeah, they still haven't found that girl", Lambert said in a video posted on the podcast website. "We intend to use evidence of other sexual crimes to prove the (case)".

Flores, 44, was arrested at his home in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles and taken to a police auto in handcuffs wearing pajama bottoms and a surf T-shirt. At left is a photo of Kristin Smart.

The arrests came almost a month after the Sheriff's Office named Paul Flores - who was the last person seen with Smart before her disappearance - the "prime suspect" in the case and searched his father's house in Arroyo Grande. She was inebriated at the time and Flores, a fellow freshman at the school, had offered to walk her home.

"Given that this is an extremely emotional day, the Smart family will not be conducting any interviews and will not be meeting with any reporters today or in the foreseeable future", they said.

"The DA's Office has carefully reviewed the case and independently determined sufficient evidence exists to proceed with the case", Dow said.

Parkinson said the developments came after more than 10 years of aggressive investigation, with deputies serving 41 search warrants at 16 locations.

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Flores was being held without bail.

"No-body homicides are obviously complicated and hard", Dow said. While her body has never been found, she was declared legally dead on May 25, 2002.

May 25, 2021, marks 25 years since Kristin's disappearance.

"We have an ongoing conversation with Mr. Paul Flores' counsel and we're welcome to any conversation that they might want to bring to us", Dow said.

Dow declined to say how Smart died or why investigators now believe the killing occured in Flores' dormitory room while he raped or attempted to rape Smart.

Ruben, 88, is being held on accessory to murder after the fact.

"We don't have evidence to charge anyone else at this time", such as Paul Flores' mother, Susan Flores, Dow said.

Dow said he believes that San Luis Obispo County would be able to offer a fair jurisdiction to hold the trial locally, added that it's a decision a judge could have to make a a future ruling.

The case was originally handled by Cal Poly police and the district attorney's office. Parkinson on Tuesday declined to discuss the details of the search warrants leading to the new arrests, and he did not reveal the alleged motive. Physical evidence was gathered in subsequent searches of the homes of Flores family members, including evidence found in March at Ruben Flores's home that was linked to Smart, according to the sheriff. Investigators that month searched a home owned by Flores' father with cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar. In February 2020, his parents' and sister's homes were searched on the same day detectives searched Paul's home in San Pedro.

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