SEVERE WX : Freeze Warning View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Two suspects arrested in the disappearance of Kristin Smart, San Luis Obispo County sheriff says

Police speak after two men have been arrested in connection with the disappearance of Kristin Smart, the California college student who vanished in 1996.

Posted: Apr 13, 2021 5:24 PM
Updated: Apr 13, 2021 5:24 PM


Two men were arrested Tuesday morning in connection with the disappearance of Kristin Smart, the California college student who vanished in 1996, San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said at a news conference.

Authorities have not found Smart's body, Parkinson said, but they have come across forensic physical evidence that they "believe it is linked to Kristin."

The sheriff talked to the family twice Tuesday, he said.

"I think they are feeling a bit of relief, but as you can imagine until we return Kristin to them, this is not over," he told reporters. "We have committed to them that we are not going to stop until Kristen has been recovered, no matter what the cause, no matter what the time, we're committed to that.

The family later released a statement calling it a "bittersweet day."

"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 family said. "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."

"We are pleased that Kristin's case has now moved to the district attorney's office, where we know we will be in good hands, and look forward to the day when there will be 'justice' for Kristin," they said.

The two suspects have been booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail, according to online inmate records.

Paul Flores, 44, has been booked on a murder charge, the records show. No bail amount is listed. Ruben Flores, 80, has been booked on an accessory charge and is being held on $250,000 bail.

The pair are expected to be arraigned on Thursday, though the elder Flores is eligible for bail. CNN has reached out to attorneys for both men.

Reached earlier by phone, Robert Sanger, an attorney representing Paul Flores, said he would not comment on "pending cases."

Long-time suspect

Last month, authorities searched Ruben Flores' home in Arroyo Grande. Flores' son, Paul, has remained the prime suspect in the decades-long missing persons case.

Smart disappeared on May 25, 1996. She was last seen near her Cal Polytechnic San Luis Obispo dorm, police said, after walking home from a party. Smart was declared dead in 2002.

Last year, investigators searched Paul Flores' home, and said they found "items of interest" on the property.

At that time, Flores was detained at his San Pedro, California, home and released back to his home after the search, Tony Cipolla, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office, said at the time.

Officials have said Paul Flores was the last person to see Smart on May 25, 1996.

Smart disappeared after she and other students walked home from a fraternity party.

She was last seen near her dorm, police said, but she never made it to her room. Friends and family never heard from her again, authorities said.

She did not have identification, money or extra clothing when she disappeared, police said.

A massive search and repeated interviews with a student who walked with her that night yielded no breaks, and Smart was declared dead in 2002.

In 2016, following leads indicating her body was buried on campus, the FBI flew in three cadaver dogs from its Quantico, Virginia, training facility, and investigators dug up part of the hillside near where the school's trademark "P" is embedded, to no avail.

Last year, the sheriff's office said it was working the case and provided a list of its efforts since 2011, when the present administration took the helm, including: performing 18 searches at nine locations; submitting 37 pieces of evidence for DNA testing; recovering "140 new items of evidence"; and conducting 91 interviews.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 189162

Reported Deaths: 2514
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah37544577
Washington25097229
Marion21585304
Clackamas16908209
Lane12676145
Jackson10649132
Deschutes846573
Umatilla812184
Linn473067
Yamhill436875
Klamath421861
Polk367852
Malheur349061
Josephine329068
Douglas320570
Benton300019
Jefferson215033
Coos204232
Columbia168526
Union143923
Lincoln136720
Wasco136428
Hood River117430
Morrow109815
Crook104520
Clatsop9668
Baker93814
Curry6409
Tillamook6323
Grant5014
Lake4437
Harney3338
Wallowa1805
Sherman581
Gilliam571
Wheeler261
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3753173

Reported Deaths: 62154
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123474623977
Riverside2988724576
San Bernardino2963244677
San Diego2773233716
Orange2705694992
Santa Clara1186982084
Kern1088871367
Sacramento1040581670
Fresno1014911680
Alameda874071541
Ventura808121011
San Joaquin727841384
Contra Costa68279803
Stanislaus617761053
Tulare49514837
Monterey43506381
San Mateo41755567
San Francisco36577543
Santa Barbara34261453
Solano32698249
Merced31701454
Sonoma29951318
Imperial28295720
Kings22933246
Placer22532290
San Luis Obispo21243260
Madera16423242
Santa Cruz16062207
Marin14009228
Yolo13846209
Shasta12042226
Butte11907198
El Dorado10073111
Napa983381
Sutter9398111
Yuba621344
San Benito604663
Lassen569624
Tehama554558
Nevada467175
Tuolumne411564
Mendocino405948
Humboldt391539
Amador365047
Lake345843
Glenn238025
Colusa222416
Siskiyou215122
Calaveras211153
Inyo142538
Del Norte13637
Mono12794
Plumas7046
Modoc4944
Mariposa4457
Trinity3995
Sierra1120
Alpine880
Unassigned450
Medford
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 64°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 57°
Crater Lake
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 64°
Grants Pass
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 64°
Klamath Falls
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 57°
Cooler and blustery Friday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video

Image

Oregon Dept. of Education: Grants Pass SD

Image

Friday, May 7 morning weather

Image

Oregon Dept. of Education: Phoenix-Talent SD

Image

Medford Police Livability Team begins the process of cleaning up the Greenway

Image

Thursday, May 6th Evening Weather

Image

Thursday, May 6 morning weather

Image

Wednesday, May 5th Evening Weather

Image

Triple Tree Restaurant set to reopen on Friday

Image

HealthWatch: Mental health awareness

Image

HealthWatch: Preventing sports injuries