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Kristin Smart's 1996 Disappearance: Arrests Made in Connection With Missing College Student

McKenna Aiello
·2 min read
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More than two decades after college student Kristin Smart went missing, there's been a long-awaited break in the case.

Authorities arrested Paul Flores, Kristin's former classmate at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, on Tuesday, April 13. Booking records obtained by E! News also confirm that Paul's father, Ruben Flores, was arrested and is being held on $250,000 bond.

During a press conference, authorities confirmed Paul, who is being held without bail, is charged with murder in connection to Kristin's case. Ruben is being charged for his role as an accessory to the alleged crime.

Ruben's attorney, Harold Mesick, had no comment when reached by E! News. Attorney Robert Sanger confirmed to E! News that he is representing Paul but declined to comment, citing the case's pending nature.

In May 1996, Kristin, then 19 years old, disappeared while walking home from an off-campus party. According to NBC News, a friend of Kristin's told authorities they saw her and Paul returning to campus on the night she went missing. Despite no body every being found, she was legally declared dead in 2002.

Renewed interest in the cold case grew thanks in part to the 2019 podcast In Your Own Backyard, which reexamined the investigation into Kristin's disappearance as well as Paul and his family's whereabouts before, during and after May 25, 1996.

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It was exactly a year ago, in April 2020, that authorities served a search warrant at Paul's Los Angeles-area home. At the time, the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office stated that they were looking for "specific items of evidence." The office also stated in 2020 that Paul "continues to be a person of interest."

Kristin Smart
Kristin Smart

Then just last month, per the Los Angeles Times, authorities use cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar to search Ruben's Arroyo Grande, Calif. home.

On Tuesday, authorities confirmed "forensic, physical evidence" relating to the case was discovered during searches at both residences. Kristin's remains, however, have not yet been recovered.

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A spokesperson for Kristin's family told CNN that upon news of Paul and Ruben's arrests, there were, "A lot of prayers, astonishment, excitement, happiness, and of course sadness. Sadness, because this has gone on for 25 years. The Smart family had not been able to bury their daughter. There was no closure."

Paul is expected to be arraigned on Thursday, April 15. A date for Ruben's arraignment has not yet been set.