The murder of Kristin Smart is one of those true crime cases where everyone basically “knows” what happened, though the case officially remains unsolved.
25 years ago as a student at California Polytechnic State University Kristin attended a birthday party for a friend on memorial day weekend. At 2am, two students who attended the party found her passed out on the campus lawn. As they were helping Kristin back to her dorm, another student named Paul Flores joined them and offered to get Kristin home, as he lived nearby. The other students agreed and departed. That was the last time anyone other than Paul Flores saw Kristin Smart.
When she was reported missing, police thought she might have run away like in the Maura Murray case. Others thought that since this was also Scott Peterson’s territory, he may have targeted her as well. However, most people who have read about or been involved in the case believe that Kristin’s disappearance is simple. They believe that the last person to see her alive, Paul Flores, is the person who caused her to disappear.
According to The Daily Beast’s report, the circumstantial case against Paul Flores is so strong, it includes a personal account his roommate gave of Paul confessing to the murder. The roommate’s statement says Paul told him “Yes, I killed her and brought her to my mom’s and she is still there.” The man who lived next to Paul’s mom, says he remembers a night when Paul and another man dug a hole in his mother’s yard late at night and then filled the hole with cement.
There’s also this other Daily Beast report about four women who accuse Paul Flores of sexual assault.
In the 25 years since that night when Kristin went missing, police have searched Paul Flores’ home and his parent’s home, even using cadaver dogs, but were never able to move forward. Even though it seems like such a straightforward case (the story of him running up and isolating a drunk woman is so suspicious, it was the basis of the Smart family’s wrongful death suit against Paul Flores) it also seemed like justice would never be carried out as the trail went colder and colder. Five years ago there was a glimmer of hope when the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office announced they had a new lead in the case, but more years passed.
In January 2020 an FBI agent who had worked on the case told people that there would be “big news” in the case shortly but again, nothing seemed to happen. Police were conducting searches. But now the searches were increasing in frequency. They eventually served 41 warrants in this case. First the police got warrants to search two vehicles belonging to Flores, then a new warrant for his home. In February, He was arrested for an unrelated weapons charge (though it’s entirely possible he was only charged because of the police attention to the case).
Finally, on April 13, 2021 Paul and his father, Ruben Flores, were arrested by Luis Obispo police. Paul Flores has been charged with Kristin’s murder and is not eligible for bail, and his father is charged with accessory to murder with $250,000 bail. Once a campus predator, Paul Flores is now a 44-year-old man. Ruben Flores is 80.
As of now, the police spokesperson says they are not making public the new leads that led to the searches being executed and Paul and Ruben’s arrests. However, we do know that at least some of the information came from having access to their phone calls and text messages. They also credited the Your Own Backyard podcast which investigated Kristin’s murder. Because of information the podcast collected, police found new witnesses to interview, which created new leads.
You can watch the press conference here:
Kristin’s body has still not been found but police say they are committed to her family to find her remains.