The longtime suspect in the disappearance of California college student Kristin Smart was arrested on Tuesday, along with his father.
Paul Flores, 44, was the last person seen with Smart when she vanished in 1996 on the California Polytechnic State University campus. Flores, who was a fellow student at the college, walked Smart back to her dorm after an off-campus party.
Flores has been a suspect since the disappearance. In the last couple of years, new witnesses have come forward and warrants allowed investigators to intercept and monitor Flores’s phone and text messages. Investigators have also been able to search Flores’s home, along with those of his mother, father and sister, turning up new evidence.
According to San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson, arrest warrants were issued after a search of the home of Flores’s father, 80-year-old Ruben Flores, last month using ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs. Evidence was found linked to the killing of Smart, although her body has not yet been located.
Paul Flores was arrested on suspicion of murder, while Ruben Flores was arrested as an accessory to the crime.
“Until we return Kristin to (her family) this is not over,” said Parkinson. “We have committed to them that we are not going to stop until it has been recovered no matter what the cost, no matter what the time.”
Smart’s family said it was a bittersweet day they had long waited for and a first step toward bringing their daughter home.
“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,” the family said in a statement.