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'Items of Interest' Found in Case of Long-Missing Student

Authorities searched California home of last person to see Kristin Smart
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2020 4:17 AM CST
Updated Feb 6, 2020 6:09 AM CST
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A member of the Los Angeles Sheriffs Dept. photographs a vehicle during an investigation outside of a home in connection with a cold case Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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(Newser) – A breakthrough could be near in the case of Kristin Smart, a Cal Poly student who vanished after attending an off-campus party almost 24 years ago. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office says "items of interest" were recovered Wednesday after search warrants were served at four locations in California and Washington state, the New York Times reports. "We will now analyze those and see how they relate to the case," says sheriff's office spokesman Tony Cipolla. KCAL reports that one of the locations searched Wednesday was the home of Paul Flores, who is believed to have been the last person to see the 19-year-old alive. He has long been considered a person of interest in the case.

Flores told investigators that he and Smart parted ways after they got to his dorm building after walking back from the party on May 25, 1996. His dorm room was not searched until more than two weeks later, after he had moved all his belongings out, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports. Smart's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him later that year. Smart was legally declared dead in 2002, but no body was ever found. Investigators also searched the home of Flores' mother Wednesday as spectators shouted "Dig her up." Police say two trucks that belonged to the Flores family in 1996 were located and taken into evidence last week. (In 2016, police searching for Smart's body excavated three sites on the Cal Poly campus.)

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