Father, Son Held in 1996 Kristin Smart Slaying

Fellow student Paul Flores has always been the main suspect
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2021 2:05 PM CDT
Fellow Student Arrested in 1996 Kristin Smart Slaying
San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office personnel dig in the backyard of the home of Ruben Flores, on March 16.   (AP Photo/Daniel Dreifuss)

Authorities in California have taken two men into custody in the 1996 disappearance of a college student—one of whom has been the prime suspect in the case the whole time. Paul Flores, then a fellow student, was the last person to see Kristin Smart alive, police said, after she walked home from a fraternity party at Cal Polytechnic-San Luis Obispo. She never made it to her dorm room. Flores and his father, Ruben, 80, were arrested Tuesday, KSBY reports. Ruben Flores is accused of being an accessory after the fact. Sheriff's deputies searched his property Tuesday, as they have repeatedly, including last month. The body of Smart, who was a freshman when she vanished, was never found, and she was declared dead in 2002. Lawyers for Paul and Ruben Flores had no comment on the arrests.

When the victim's family was told of the arrests by law enforcement officials, there were "a lot of prayers, astonishment, excitement, happiness, and of course sadness," a spokesman said, per CNN. "Sadness, because this has gone on for 25 years. The Smart family had not been able to bury their daughter. There was no closure." The efforts to find Smart's remains included digging up part of the campus in 2016. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office documented its efforts in the case from 2011 to last year: 18 searches conducted at nine places; 37 pieces of evidence submitted for DNA testing; 140 new items of evidence recovered; and 91 interviews conducted. (More Kristin Smart stories.)

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