The parents of Kristin Smart have sued the father of the man accused of killing her, after the father allegedly moved the victim’s body from under him home.
KTLA reports that the lawsuit was filed in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court by attorney James Murphy, on behalf of the Smart family. The lawsuit accuses Paul Ruben, 80, of moving 19-year-old Smart’s body “under cover of darkness” after authorities searched his home in 2020.
“Had Kristin’s remains not been hidden, re-hidden and then moved yet again, it is reasonably likely (her parents) could have been reunited with the remains of their daughter and would have been permitted the opportunity to conduct a burial service at which their daughter could be laid to rest in a place of honor and dignity, as opposed to the present circumstances where their daughter’s body was discarded like human garbage,” the lawsuit read.
“The remains of a loved one, especially under the conditions of the disappearance and death of Kristin Smart, are precious to the family members of those deceased persons.”
The lawsuit is seeking an unspecified amount in damages. Santa Maria Times reports that the damages sought are for “severe emotional distress spanning nearly 25 years.” The lawsuit is seeking both punitive and exemplary damages “to make an example of and to punish [the] defendant.”
Ruben Flores is also facing criminal charges in connection with the case. Earlier this month he was arrested for being an accessory after the fact of murder. He since bailed out of jail.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Ruben Flores’ son, Paul Flores, 44, is the prime suspect in the disappearance and presumed death of Smart. He remains behind bars without bail on a felony murder charge.
Smart disappeared on May 24, 1996, after attending an off-campus party near Cal Poly. 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.
Fellow student Paul Flores told authorities that he accompanied Smart back to the Muir Hall dorm after the party, where she lived. He claimed he then left and walked to his own dorm room at Santa Lucia Hall.
Flores had a black eye while speaking to investigators at the time. He explained it happened after playing basketball, but authorities were skeptical of his story. Flores later claimed he got the black eye while working on a truck. Eventually, he stopped talking to the investigators 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, but Flores has never been convicted of any of the alleged assaults.
Officials announced last week that they are investigating several instances of alleged sexual assault against numerous women, which reportedly happened at the hands of Paul Flores.
“Dozens of women have recounted Paul Flores’ sexual assaults and predatory behavior that document his 25 years as a serial rapist,” court documents read.
In March of this year and again in April, authorities spent hours searching Ruben Flores’ home. They used cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar while digging in areas outside of the residence. Investigators also removed an old Volkswagen from the property.
Investigators then alleged that Smart’s body was once buried under the elder Flores’ deck, but her remains were recently moved.
According to court documents, authorities “are in possession of biological evidence that makes them believe the victim was buried underneath (Ruben Flores’) deck at one time.”
“[There is] damning evidence that a body had been buried in that location and then recently moved.”
Both father and son have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Kristin Smart/Handout; Paul and Ruben Flores/Police Handout]