Kristin Smart, 19, was last seen in the early hours of the morning on May 25, 1996, on the California Polytechnic State University campus in San Luis Obispo, where she was a freshman. The last person to see her alive was Paul Flores, who walked her home after a party and he was soon identified as the prime suspect after she was reported missing a couple of days later.
The case remained an active investigation but it took over 20 years for significant breakthroughs, beginning with an interview with a previously unknown witness in 2019. According to a San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office press release, new evidence and the witness allowed authorities to obtain “a court order authorizing the interception and monitoring of Paul Flores’ cell phone and text message communications.”
In February 2020, detectives served search warrants at the home of Paul Flores, his father, Ruben Flores, and his sister and mother. Another search warrant served at the home of his father in March 2021 included the use of cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar and according to the press release, “Additional evidence related to the murder of Kristin Smart [was] discovered at the site.”
Less than a month after the home was searched, on April 13, 2021, Paul Flores was arrested and taken into the custody of the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office. According to a press release from the sheriff’s office, he was charged with Smart’s murder. His father, Ruben Flores, was arrested the same day as an accessory to murder.
Where is Paul Flores today?
Flores Was Arrested in April 2021 & a Judge Recently Ruled That He Will Stand Trial for Smart’s Murder in April 2022
In September 2021, prosecutors presented their case in court and the judge ruled that they had enough evidence to call for a jury trial, Rolling Stone reported. The 22-day preliminary hearing saw prosecutors argue that Flores murdered Smart in his college dorm room while attempting to rape her.
According to Rolling Stone, in October 2021, Flores appeared before a California judge and pleaded not guilty. The judge ruled that Flores’ trial for the murder of Kristin Smart would begin on April 25, 2022. Flores, now 45, is being held in the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office jail without bond, public records show.
At the time of his arrest, Sheriff Parkinson said in a press release, “After 24 years we have finally brought justice for Kristin and hopefully some closure for the Smart family and peace to our community.”
Flores’ Father Has Also Been Charged With Accessory to Murder as Authorities Accused Him of Helping His Son Hide Smart’s Body
While Paul Flores was denied bail after his arrest, his father Ruben Flores’ bail was lowered to $50,000 on April 21, 2021, and he was released after posting bond, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reported. Ruben Flores, 80, will be facing trial in April 2022 alongside his son as he was charged with accessory to murder after the fact.
Prosecutors argued in court during the September 2021 preliminary hearing that Ruben Flores helped his son hide Smart’s body. In the October 2021 pre-trial hearing, he pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Although Flores’ father is his only family member charged with some involvement, the Tribune reported that the unsealed records in the case were made public in July 2021 and they outlined several key pieces of evidence from the investigation, including a January 2021 wiretap of a conversation between Flores and his mother.
In that conversation, Flores’ mother told him on the phone, “The other thing I need you to do is to start listening to the podcast. I need you to listen to everything they say so we can punch holes in it. Um, wherever we can punch holes. Maybe we can’t. You, you’re the one that can tell me.”