The remains of Kristin Smart are still missing today, more than 25 years after her death. However, an update in the murder case revealed investigators may know the location her body was hidden for decades.
Smart was a 19-year-old California Polytechnic State University student at the university’s San Luis Obispo campus on May 25, 1996, when she was last seen walking back to her dorm room from an off-campus party at about 2 a.m., according to KCRA. Witnesses told police Paul Flores was walking her home.
Fox News reported that another man and a woman were also walking with her until Flores insisted he would get her home safely. She never returned to her dorm. It would be another 25 years before Flores was arrested in her murder, along with his father, Ruben Flores, who is charged as an accessory after the fact. Police allege Paul Flores, now 45, attempted to rape Smart and killed her. His father, now 81, is accused of helping him bury her body. The two are facing charges in a California trial that began in July 2022. As the trial entered its third month, witnesses testified about the location where they believe the men hid her remains temporarily.
Here’s what you need to know:
Police Believe Smart’s Body Was Buried at Ruben Flores’ Home & Removed Years Later When Investigators Searched the Property
Two people testified in the trial Monday, August 29, about the property where investigators believe Smart’s body lay hidden for decades, according to Fox News. Police believe Paul Flores killed Smart in his dorm room and later buried her body at his father’s Arroyo Grande, California property. Two witnesses were called to the stand who were familiar with the property. The first built the home in the early 1990s, and the second rented space in the home for about 10 years.
In March 2021, archeologists who were aiding police in the forensic search of the property found a patch of disturbed soil that was about the size of a casket. Investigators also found human blood there, according to Fox. Police believe Smart’s remains were buried under the deck.
The longtime tenant, identified only as “David” by Fox News, recalled Ruben Flores telling him to avoid the area under the deck. He said there was once a leak under the sink, and when a plumber said he would need to go under the deck to fix it, the elder Flores told the plumber to “just forget it.”
There was a crawlspace under the house that was about seven feet high, a contractor identified only as “Ed” testified, according to Fox. The house was built over an area that was once an avocado orchard, he said.
A Cadaver Dog Changed Behavior in the Area Under Flores’ Deck Where Police Believe Smart’s Remains Were Hidden
A cadaver dog showed signs that human remains had once been buried under the Flores property, and were then removed, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Human remains detection expert Kristin Black testified August 30, 2022, that her dog, Annie, honed in on a location under Flores’ deck during a search of the property in March 2021.
The Tribune reported the dog showed signs she was catching the scent of human remains and searching for the source of the smell.
“Black testified that Annie’s behavior was consistent with what she would expect to see if the source of the scent has been removed,” The Tribune reported.