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Kristin Smart

Kristin Smart: Family marks 25th anniversary of 19-year-old student’s disappearance

The parents of Kristin Smart, a 19-year-old Cal Poly student who disappeared in 1996, returned to San Luis Obispo over the weekend to mark the 25th anniversary of their daughter’s disappearance and to thank members of the community who “refused to give up.”

Smart was last heard from on May 24, 1996, after attending an off-campus party. She left a voice mail for her parents at about 8 p.m., as CrimeOnline previously reported. Fellow student Paul Flores, now 44, told police he accompanied Smart back to her dorm that night and then walked to his room.

Last month, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office arrested Flores and charged him with murder. At the same time, they arrested Flores’s father, 80-year-old Reuben Flores, charging him with accessory after the fact for allegedly moving Smart’s remains from his property. The remains have not been found.

Stan and Denise Smart, who live in Stockton, met privately with “special friends in the SLO area who have carried Kristin in their hearts including those in law enforcement who never gave up and continue today with steeled determination and effort to bring her home,” the family said in a statement sent to CrimeOnline by family spokesman John Segale.

“While we were not able to meet with all the Warriors for Kristin during our short stay, we wanted them to know that their determination over the years has been so valuable in sustaining Kristin’s memory,” the statement said. “We did have the opportunity to thank Sheriff Ian Parkinson for his relentless commitment and leadership, and we saluted all those in the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI for their efforts on this case.”

When police interviewed Paul Flores in 1996 about Smart’s disappearance, he had a black eye, CrimeOnline reported. 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 is “a strong possibility that a deceased body had been in that room.”

The Smarts eventually filed suit against Paul Flores for wrongful death, but a court later ruled that the lawsuit could not proceed while the criminal case remained open. They recently amended the lawsuit to claim that Paul Flores’s mother, Susan Flores, and her boyfriend Mike McConville, helped move their daughter’s remains from beneath Ruben Flores’s deck in February 2020, CrimeOnline reported. The mother and her boyfriend have not been criminally charged.

Ruben Flores has been released from jail on bond; Paul Flores was denied bond. Both men are due in court for a routine hearing on June 21, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

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[Featured image: Kristin Smart/Handout]