California authorities announced Wednesday that they have numerous items of evidence in their possession, in connection with Kristin Smart’s disappearance and presumed death.
According to San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, investigators confirmed that they have two trucks that belonged to the main suspects’ family in 1996. The sheriff’s office released the details on Wednesday, largely in “response to the large number of recent public inquiries” about the Smart case.
Kristin Smart was a 19-year-old college student when she mysteriously vanished after attending a fraternity party at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Fellow student Paul Flores, possibly the last person to see Smart alive, has been the primary suspect since her disappearance.
The sheriff’s office also confirmed that they have other items of evidence, including, in part, 37 “items from the early days of the case for modern DNA testing” and “recovery of 140 new items of evidence.”
Earlier this month, Smart’s mother, Denise Smart, announced that an FBI agent told her to be prepared for upcoming “major break” in the case. She later clarified that she spoke to a retired FBI agent who’s not currently on the case, but who provides her with support and guidance.
Regardless, Denise Smart’s statements sparked renewed national interest in the 23-year-old cold case, prompting investigators to probe deeper.
“Although it is generally not our practice to comment on items of evidence in active investigations, in this specific case we can confirm that the Sheriff’s Office currently holds two trucks in evidence that belonged to Flores family members in 1996,” the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said.
The sheriff’s office indicated that they will not be commenting further about the case at this time, but will continue to investigate.
Where is Kristin Smart?
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Smart disappeared on May 24, 1996, after attending an off-campus party. She called her parents that night at around 8:00 p.m. and left a voicemail. It was the last time they heard from her.
A fellow college student, Paul Flores, told authorities that he accompanied back to the Muir Hall dorm after the party. He claimed he then left and walked to his own dorm room at Santa Lucia Hall.
Flores had a black eye at the time. He explained it happened after playing basketball, but detectives were skeptical of his story. Flores later claimed he got the black eye while working on a truck. Eventually, he stopped talking and obtained an attorney.
When authorities brought cadaver dogs to the campus, the dogs reportedly made their way to room #128 at the Santa Lucia Dorm, where Flores lived. Two dogs showed interest in a mattress on the left-hand side of the room, according to court documents, which was Flores’ side of the room.
According to CARDA dog handler, Adela Morris, there “a strong possibility that a deceased body had been in that room.”
The Daily Beast reported in 2016 that the authorities once had the chance to arrest Flores on rape charges prior to Smart’s disappearance. Additional women reportedly came forward afterward and said Flores also sexually assaulted them.
One of the women said she contacted the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office and reported the incident.
So far, Flores has not been charged for sexual assault and hasn’t been charged in connection with Smart’s disappearance. Smart’s parents filed eventually filed a civil suit against Flores for “taking the body of Kristin Smart and secreting and/or destroying the body… in a hidden place in the County of San Luis Obispo.”
Flores’ family countersued the Smart family for emotional distress. A judge later ruled that the Smarts’ lawsuit could not proceed, due to the ongoing investigation, according to The Tribune.
Flores remains a “person of interest” in the case, according to San Luis Obispo police.
In 2016, authorities found items of interest while excavating sites around the “P” hill, near the campus. Denise, however, said she knew that they wouldn’t find her daughter there.
“When they did the big dig, I had no anxiety,” Denise said. “I said she’s not there.”
The excavation didn’t provide any items of evidence that led to an arrest in the case and as Denise predicted, searchers didn’t find her daughter.
The story continues to develop. Check back for updates.
[Feature Photo: Kristin Smart/Handout]