kristin smart's former classmate and his father arrested in connection with her 1996 disappearance

Kristin Smart’s Former Classmate and His Father Arrested in Connection with Her 1996 Disappearance

Kristin Smart was a freshman studying at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, when she disappeared on May 25, 1996. Paul Flores, 44, has been a longtime person of interest and he has now been arrested in connection with Smart’s disappearance.

Despite a body never being discovered for the freshman, authorities have apprehended Paul Flores and accused him of murder and will not allow bail, Sheriff Ian Parkinson said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Paul Flores Is Being Held Without Bail After Police Accused the Man of Murdering Kristin Smart. Paul Flores’ Father Was Also Arrested In Connection to the Crime.

kristin smart's former classmate and his father arrested in connection with her 1996 disappearance
Kristin Smart / KristinSmart.Org

Ruben Flores, 80, who is Paul’s father, was also taken into custody as he is suspected of being an accessory to Smart’s murder. Ruben is being held on $250,000 bail, Parkinson said, who informed the public that authorities are still searching for Smart’s body.

“Until we return Kristin to them [her family] it is not over,” Parkinson said. “We are committed to them. We are not going to stop until Kristin is recovered.”

Parkinson did not elaborate on what led to the charges announced Tuesday against either suspect. He explained that since 2011, the sheriff’s office has served more than 41 search warrants, conducted physical searches of many different locations, submitted more than 37 items for DNA testing, recovered 193 pieces of new physical evidence, and carried out over 130 interviews.

“I am confident we have enough of a case to prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” Parkinson elaborated.

kristin smart's former classmate and his father arrested in connection with her 1996 disappearance
Paul Flores / San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office

“Throughout our investigation, Paul Flores has remained a person of significant interest,” he added. “As the case progressed he became a suspect and the prime suspect in the case.”

Paul’s attorney, Sarah Sanger, told NBC News their firm will not comment on pending cases. Ruben Flores’ attorney, Harold Mesickdeclined comment to KSBY.

kristin smart's former classmate and his father arrested in connection with her 1996 disappearance
Ruben Flores / San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office

Smart allegedly vanished after attending an off-campus party on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend in 1996. Flores, now 43, was the last known person to see her alive after offering to walk her home in her inebriated state from the party, police have previously claimed.

In February and later in April of 2020, Flores was briefly detained but ultimately he was released, People reported at the time. Authorities said they had searched Flores’ home and that of his parents back in 1996.

kristin smart's former classmate and his father arrested in connection with her 1996 disappearance
Kristin Smart / KristinSmart.Org

After Smart vanished, campus police questioned Flores about his interactions with Smart. When he was asked about a black eye he had sustained, he explained to police that he got hurt in a pickup basketball game. However, authorities grew suspicious when one of his friends later told authorities Flores already had the bruise when he showed up to the baseball game.

According to The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, he later admitted that was lying and told authorities he got the bruise fixing his truck. He then abruptly ended the interview with the outlet.

kristin smart's former classmate and his father arrested in connection with her 1996 disappearance
Kristin Smart / KristinSmart.Org

Later that year, after Flores had returned home for the summer, investigators from the sheriff’s office searched his dorm room with four cadaver dogs, and the dogs keyed in on Flores’s mattress, according to authorities.

Despite remaining a prime suspect in the case ever since, Flores had never been charged with a crime until Tuesday.

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kristin smart's former classmate and his father arrested in connection with her 1996 disappearance
Kristin Smart / KristinSmart.Org

He had remained quiet about the case, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent when he was deposed in a 2005 wrongful death civil suit brought against him by Smart’s parents, which was ultimately dropped.

We are awaiting news of how Ruben and Paul Flores will plea as the prosecution mounts the high-profile case.

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