Tuesday, 26 October, 2021


'Extremely emotional': Dramatic arrest after 25-year-old mystery

Kristin Smart case: Paul Flores, prime suspect, arrested nearly 25 years after her disappearance, reports say 'Major' announcement planned in student's 1996 disappearance
Melba Vasquez | 14 April, 2021, 08:40

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said arrests came after a search of the elder Flores' home last month using ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs turned up new evidence linked to Smart's killing, though her body has not yet been located.

The sheriff's office served four search warrants for specific items of evidence related to Smith's disappearance a year ago, including two in San Luis Obispo County, one in Los Angeles County and one in Washington. His father, Ruben Flores, 80, was arrested at his Arroyo Grande home - about 15 miles (24 kilometers) south of the university - where sheriff's investigators conducted a new search for evidence. Flores has claimed for over two decades that he went into his dorm and left Smart to walk by herself to hers, but he was the last person to have seen her alive.

A spokesman for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department could not be reached by Reuters for comment.

Sarah Sanger, an attorney for Paul Flores, said that the law office did not comment on pending cases. "It is impossible to put into words what this day means for our family; we pray it is the first step to bringing our daughter home", the statement said.

In 2016, San Luis Obispo County authorities said they found "items of interest" while digging at three excavation sites in central California after a new lead suggested she may be buried there. She was walking back to her to her dorm room from an off-campus party while accompanied by a fellow student (Flores).

Smart was legally presumed dead in 2002, and the case has continued to confound investigators.

The "prime suspect" has been arrested in the 25-year-old disappearance of a Californian college student. Sheriff Parkinson would not disclose what evidence found nor which two homes the evidence was found at. Smart's body, Parkinson said, has not been recovered, although search efforts continue.

The Smart family released a preliminary statement on Tuesday.

"While Kristin's loving spirit will always live in our hearts, our life without her hugs, laughs and smiles is a heartache that never abates", they said.

Ruben Flores' bail was set at $250,000, jail records show.

Investigators never had enough evidence to charge him with a crime related to her disappearance until Tuesday when Flores was arrested on suspicion of murder in Smart's death. Officials at the scene told KSBY they are serving another search warrant.

Paul Flores has remained mum through the years, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to not answer questions before a grand jury and in a deposition for a lawsuit that was brought against him. They appeared to be disassembling a deck outside the home and the sound of power saws and drills could be heard whining in the background.

Delays in the investigation of the Smart case prompted California lawmakers to pass legislation requiring colleges and universities to share information more quickly about missing students with off-campus police.

Also on April 13, detectives arrested Paul Flores' father Ruben Flores on an accessory to murder charge.

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.

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