The “main suspect” in the 25-year disappearance California student Kristin Smart he was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murder, the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department said.
Paul Flores, 44, the last person seen with Smart before she disappeared in 1996, was taken into the Los Angeles area. His father, Ruben Flores, 80, was also arrested at his home in Arroyo Grande.
2011 “I requested a full examination of all physical evidence ever taken in [Smart] case, “San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson told a news conference.” In late 2016, we uncovered additional evidence confirming that Paul was a suspect in the disappearance. “
Paul Flores was given a yellow card on a charge of bail, Parkinson said. His trial will be on Thursday. Ruben Flores was arrested for complicity in the murder on $ 250,000 bail, and his actions will depend on whether he posted bail.
Smart, 19, of Stockton, California, disappeared in May 1996 as she was returning to her home at California Polytechnic State University State University in San Luis Obispo after a party. She was seen with Paul Flores, who was a student at the time.
Smart’s body has not yet been found by police, but physical evidence related to her has been found, according to authorities.
“We’re not going to stop until Kristen recovers no matter the cost, no matter the weather,” Parkinson said. “We’ll find Kristen.”
A spokesman for the Smart family issued a statement saying the day was “bitter-sweet”.
“It is impossible to explain in words what this day means for our family. We pray that this is the first step to bring our daughter home, “the statement said. “Although Kristina’s spirit of love will always live in our hearts, our life without her hugs, laughter and smiles is a pain of heart that never subsides.”
Tuesday’s announcement comes about a month after Sheriff Paul Flores named the “main suspects” in the case. Investigators searched his father’s house and property using radar and corpse dogs penetrating the ground.
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Investigators handed over another search warrant for Ruben Flores’ house, about 25 miles south of the University of Central California, on Tuesday, KSBY-TV reported.
According to Parkinson, over 40 search warrants were executed at 16 locations during those years. So much evidence has been gathered that it will fill three terabytes on a computer’s hard drive, Parkinson estimated.
New evidence comes to light, at least in part, through podcasts. “Your own backyard, “an eight – part series detailing the Smart case. Renewed and interested in the case locally, nationally and internationally, Parkinson said.
Shortly after the release of the movie “Your Own Yard” in 2019, police interviewed several witnesses associated with the podcast.
“I mean what Chris [Lambert] took with its podcast a local story that was mostly local and expanded into a national story – in fact, an international one, I will say, because when that message came out, we started getting more information, ”Parkinson said, referring to podcast.
He added that the information produced was “valuable” and led to new evidence that allowed detectives to secure a court order to intercept Flores’ calls and text messages.
Contribution: Associated Press