Update: Paul Flores and father Ruben in custody as suspects in Kristin Smart case
Update posted April 14, 6 a.m.:
–San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson announced a major development in the case of missing Cal Poly student Kristin Smart on Tuesday. The prime suspect in that case, Paul Flores, has been arrested for her murder.
“After 24 years we have finally brought justice for Kristin,” said Sheriff Parkinson. “And hopefully some closure for the Smart family and peace to our community.”
Flores was arrested and taken into custody in San Pedro, Calif. on Tuesday for the murder of Kristin Smart. Additionally, his father Ruben Flores was arrested in Arroyo Grande on Tuesday as an accessory to murder.
Smart disappeared while returning to a dorm at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, after a party on May 24, 1996. The last person to see her alive was Paul Flores, who has remained the prime suspect in her disappearance.
“I am extremely proud of all the dedicated investigators who worked tirelessly over the years to solve this case,” Sheriff Parkinson said. “It’s taken many years to get to this point, but as I’ve always said, it’s not what you believe, it’s what you can prove. And we can finally say we have done that today.”
San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow released the following statement in response to the arrests:
The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office is evaluating the Kristin Smart investigation following the arrests of Paul and Ruben Flores. We are carefully reviewing the evidence and will provide more information as it becomes available.
Timeline of events
- Kristin Smart was a 19-year-old Cal Poly freshman in May 1996.
- She was last seen on May 25, 1996 at approximately 2 a.m. near the intersection of Perimeter and Grand Avenue on the Cal Poly campus as she walked home to her dorm from an off-campus party.
- Kristin was last seen with Paul Flores, a 19-year-old male freshman who walked home from the party with her.
- Kristin was reported missing to the Cal Poly Police Department on May 28, 1996.
- Cal Poly Police handled the initial investigation into her disappearance with the assistance of Investigators from the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.
- On June 26, 1996, almost a month later, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office assumed the lead investigative role in the case, and it has remained an active investigation ever since.
- On January 3, 2011 Ian Parkinson was sworn in as Sheriff and intensified efforts to find Kristin and hold the person responsible for her disappearance accountable.
- In late 2016, the Sheriff’s Office discovered additional evidence which confirmed Paul Flores was a suspect in the disappearance of Kristin Smart.
- In 2019, sheriff’s detectives interviewed a witness in the case that was not previously known.
- With the discovery of new evidence and a new witness, sheriff’s detectives secured a court order authorizing the interception and monitoring of Paul Flores’ cell phone and text message communications.
- In February of 2020, sheriff’s detectives served search warrants at the home of Paul Flores, as well as his sister, mother, and father.
- Physical evidence recovered during these searches led to the service of an additional search warrant at Flores’ residence in April of 2020.
- In March of 2021, detectives served a search warrant at the Arroyo Grande home of Ruben Flores, the father of Paul Flores. Additional evidence related to the murder of Kristin Smart is discovered at the site.
- April 13, 2021, Paul Flores is arrested for the murder of Kristin Smart. That same day, his father Ruben Flores is arrested as an accessory to murder.
Update posted Tuesday, 3 p.m.:
–The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office hosted a press conference today from the courthouse building in downtown San Luis Obispo. Further details were released regarding the arrest of Paul Flores and his father Ruben Flores in connection with the nearly 25-year-old Kristin Smart murder case.
Flores was booked and charged with murder in connection to the case. No bail was set. His father was also arrested Tuesday.
Sheriff Ian Parkinson said that he couldn’t disclose the details of what they have found in the most recent investigations at this time, although he said he is hopeful that they could be close to finding her body.
The Smart family released a statement in response to the recent developments:
Statement from the Smart Family regarding today’s arrest
For over twenty-four years, we have waited for this bittersweet day. It is impossible to put into words what this day means for our family; we pray it is the first step to bringing our 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 knowledge that a father and son, despite our desperate pleas for help, could have withheld this horrible secret for nearly 25 years, denying us the chance to lay our daughter to rest, is an unrelenting and unforgiving pain. We now put our faith in the justice system and move forward, comforted in the knowledge that Kristin has been held in the hearts of so many and that she has not been forgotten.
We honor Kristin today and those who worked with unparalleled tenacity and dedication to bring us to this day. Without Kristin in our life, there will never be justice, but we will pray for peace. Unfortunately, the indifference and lack of resolve we experienced early onset the course for many years.
However, when Sheriff Parkinson took office in 2011, he made a promise that Kristin’s disappearance would be one of his top priorities. We are here today because he has remained true to his word. We have kept the faith; never given up; and fully placed our trust and support with him and his team.
The task he and his team accepted was unprecedented in volume and scope, yet they met every setback and challenge with resolve and an unequaled commitment to Kristin and our family.
Our gratitude to Sheriff Parkinson and his department for their professionalism, compassion, and perseverance is without measure. We are forever grateful for Detective Clint Cole who joined ‘Team Kristin’ in 2017 and brought new oxygen to Team Kristin and kept our hopes alive. We would not be here today without his professionalism, perseverance, and dedication. His heart and commitment are without equal.
We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the exceptional skills, indefatigable work, and unselfish dedication of Christopher Lambert who produced Your Own Backyard Podcast. Chris, along with four incredible angels (C, J, J, and J), balanced Kristin on their shoulders while lightening our burden and held our hearts and hopes with fierce resolve and commitment. There simply are ‘no words!’
We also wish to extend our deepest gratitude for all those on the SLOSO team, including Commander Nate Paul, Detective Cole, and their incredible and dedicated support staff. To each law enforcement agency that assisted the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department with their extraordinary efforts, our gratitude is immeasurable. Each gave 110% to ensure that this day would come.
We are pleased that Kristin’s case has now moved to the district attorney’s office, where we know we will be in good hands, and look forward to the day when there will be ‘justice’ for Kristin.
To HEAL, we must REMEMBER not only Kristin but also every heart that carried Kristin and our family in theirs! Kristin’s story is ultimately one of unwavering commitment, resilience and immense gratitude.
Original story posted April 13, 11 a.m.:
Paul Flores and father arrested in connection with Kristin Smart case
–Paul Flores was arrested at his home in San Pedro this morning, and Ruben Flores was arrested at his some in Arroyo Grande for their connection to the 1996 disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart, according to multiple reports.
“Your Own Backyard” podcaster Chris Lambert posted photos of the arrest on his Instagram account this morning. The San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office says they will be releasing further information later today in a press conference.
In March, the sheriff’s office searched the home of Ruben Flores and confiscated a Volkswagen Cabriolet from the driveway. Officials have not yet announced what, if anything was found during that search.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates.