'Prime suspect' arrested in student's 1996 disappearance

Brunilde Fioravanti
Апреля 14, 2021

Detectives with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department served a search warrant at the Arroyo Grande home of Ruben Flores, the father of Paul Flores.

A spokesman for the Smart family (pictured holding a photo of Kristin Smart) said "this is an extremely emotional day".

May 25, 2021, marks 25 years since Kristin's disappearance.

"The knowledge that a father and son, despite our desperate pleas for help, could have withheld this terrible secret for almost 25 years, denying us the chance to lay our daughter to rest, is an unrelenting and unforgiving pain", the family said.

Parkinson said over 40 search warrants had been executed at 16 locations over the years and so much evidence had been compiled that it would fill three terabytes on a computer hard drive.

Sheriff Parkinson said Kristin's body has yet to be found, but investigators will now pivot the investigation to search for remains. "We will continue to focus on finding her remains regardless of any court action".

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's officials also served another search warrant at the Arroyo Grande property Tuesday morning.

Flores was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm, based on information developed when his home was searched. His bail is set at $250,000, jail records show. His defense attorney Robert Sanger declined comment Tuesday.

Kristin Smart, the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo student who disappeared in 1996.

Smart's family, in a statement, called the day "bittersweet".

"While Kristin's loving spirit will always live in our hearts, our life without her hugs, laughs and smiles is a heartache that never abates", they said. Parkinson credited the podcast "Your Own Backyard" with helping to bring forth a new witness.

In 2019, detectives interviewed a new witness in the case.

Authorities are searching the home of the elder Flores. The 80-year-old was booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact, jail records show.

"It's safe to say we are checking everywhere possible", he said. "Unfortunately, the search warrants were sealed, which means I can't discuss what evidence was found".

Parkinson did not clarify exactly what the evidence was but said police "believe it's linked to Krisitn".

Smart was last seen on May 25, 1996, near the intersection of Perimeter Road and Grand Avenue.

Following the years of digs and searches, Jeffrey D. Armstrong, the president of the university, said Tuesday the community is encouraged that long-awaited justice will come.

An accessory is defined as "a person who, after a felony has been committed, harbors, conceals or aids a principal in such felony, with the intent that said principal may avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction or punishment, having knowledge that said principal has committed such felony or has been charged with such felony or convicted thereof". "While we know today's developments do not represent the end of the case, it is a significant step".

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