After nearly 25 years, two people now face charges in connection to the disappearance and murder of Kristin Smart in California.
Paul Flores, who has long been called a suspect in the case, was arrested on April 13, according San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said. Paul Flores was the last person seen with Smart when she went missing in 1996. Paul Flores was charged with murder, according to jail records.
His father, Rueben, was also charged with being an accessory, according to jail records.
Smart and Paul Flores were both students at Cal Ploy-San Luis Obispo when Smart disappeared.
Parkinson said police interviewed a new witness after a 2018 podcast about the case. He said they also served several search warrants in the last few years to investigate the case. Police recovered evidence related to the murder, but Parkinson said he couldn't talk about what evidence was found.
Deputies have not found Smart's body.
"It's my hope we can take the first step towards justice for the Smart family," Parkinson said.
Smart was in her freshman year at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, when she attended an off-campus party on Memorial Day weekend in 1996. She made her way back toward her dorm early in the morning on May 25 with friends Cheryl Anderson and Flores, who was the last to see her alive.
Anderson later told investigators she parted ways with Smart and Flores and continued on to her dorm. Flores claimed he too left Smart when he approached his residence hall.
On May 27, a friend who lived in Smart’s dormitory called campus police and reported the 6-foot-1-inch communications major missing.
The investigation into Smart’s disappearance reportedly got off to a slow start and was mired in missteps.
Detectives did not search Smart’s room until June 5 and waited five more days to search the room of Flores, who by then had moved out since the school year had ended.
The San Luis Tribune reported that in a taped June 19 police interview, Flores allegedly admitted he lied about how he had gotten a black eye before changing the story and then abruptly refusing to answer more questions.
Last month, the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office announced they used a search warrant at the home of Flores' father. Paul Flores was arrest in February on a weapons charge as well.