On Tuesday, two archaeologists hired by authorities testified during Paul and Ruben’ Flores preliminary hearing in San Luis Obispo County.
Archaeologists Philip Hanes and Cindy Arrington, who said they were contacted by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office to help search Ruben Flores’ home, testified that they found four different aberrations in disturbed soil areas under his deck.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Paul Flores, 44, the prime suspect in the disappearance and presumed death of 19-year-old Smart, was booked earlier this year in the San Luis Obispo County jail on suspicion of murder.
Flores’ father, Ruben Flores, 80, was also arrested at his Arroyo Grande residence the same day his son was arrested. The father is facing an“accessory after the fact of a felony” charge according to San Luis Obispo County jail records, AP reports.
After their arrests, investigators stated that Smart’s body was once buried under the elder Flores’ deck, but her remains were recently moved.
During testimony this week, Hanes said that one of the disturbances found under Ruben Flores’ deck was “promising due to it being approximately the size of a burial,” NBC 6 reports.
Arrington testified that they found some sort of sticky substance surrounding the area, that looked similar to a “bathtub ring.” Arrington said that it could have been a human decomposition stain. She added that the disturbed area was “large enough to fit human remains into.”
The defense questioned the technology used during the digs, pushing to see if the technology had been peer-reviewed. The judge ultimately overruled the objection.
Once the preliminary hearing concludes, the presiding judge will determine if there is enough evidence to bring the case to trial.
What Happened to Kristin Smart?
As CrimeOnline reported, 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 classmates Cheryl Anderson and Tim Davis told police that Smart was intoxicated and passed out on a neighbor’s lawn that night. They helped her up to escort her back to her dorm room when Paul Flores joined in and said he would help as well.
As the group walked toward Smart’s dorm, Davis left first to go to his own dorm, followed by Anderson. Paul Flores assured the group that he would get Smart home safely and lived the nearest to her.
Flores later told authorities that he accompanied Smart back to her dorm at Muir Hall. 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 police brought cadaver dogs to the campus, the dogs made their way to room #128 at the Santa Lucia Dorm, where Paul 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 was “a strong possibility that a deceased body had been in that room.”
Earlier this year, authorities spent many days searching Ruben Flores’ home. They used cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar while digging in areas outside of the residence and under the deck. Investigators also removed an old Volkswagen from the property.
Ruben Flores’ attorney previously told People magazine that he “doesn’t believe there is any evidence, especially objective physical evidence, that my client has committed any crime.”
Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Kristin Smart/Handout; Paul and Ruben Flores/Police Handout]