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Suspect in Kristin Smart’s 1996 disappearance is arrested

The long-time suspect in the 1996 disappearance of California college student Kristin Smart has been arrested less than a month after investigators used ground penetrating radar to search his family home.

Paul Flores, now 44, was taken into custody on Tuesday in San Pedro, California, KSBY News reports. 

His father, Ruben Flores, was also arrested around the same time. 

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff announced soon after that they would be announcing ‘major developments’ regarding the Smart investigation at a press conference Tuesday afternoon at California Polytechnic State University. 

The arrests of both Paul and Ruben Flores are believed to be linked to the investigation to Smart’s disappearance. 

Paul Flores

Paul Flores, the long-time suspect in the 1996 disappearance of California college student Kristin Smart, was arrested on Tuesday in San Pedro, California.

A spokesperson for the Smart family issued a brief statement in the wake of the arrests saying it was an ‘extremely emotional day’. 

The spokesperson did not address the arrests and said an addition statement would be released following the announcement from the sheriff’s office. 

The younger Flores, who has long been a suspect in Smart’s 1996 disappearance, was a former classmate and the last known person to see Smart the night she vanished.

Smart was last seen in the early hours of May 15, 1996 when she returned to her dorm after a party near the California Polytechnic State University campus.  

The sheriff’s office said as recently as last month that Flores, who has never been charged, is still ‘prime suspect’ in Smart’s disappearance.

Flores has previously invoked his Fifth Amendment right to not answer questions before a grand jury and in a deposition for a lawsuit that was brought against him in relation to the investigation. 

The arrests come less than a month after officers conducted a search warrant at the Flores’ family home.

Investigators brought in ground penetrating radar equipment and cadaver dogs to search the home on March 15. 

The arrests come less than a month after officers conducted a search warrant at the Flores' family home (above) during which they used ground penetrating radar equipment and cadaver dogs

The arrests come less than a month after officers conducted a search warrant at the Flores’ family home (above) during which they used ground penetrating radar equipment and cadaver dogs

Investigators brought in ground penetrating radar equipment and cadaver dogs to search the home on March 15

 Investigators brought in ground penetrating radar equipment and cadaver dogs to search the home on March 15

Various search efforts have been carried out over the years, including the excavation of three different hillside locations near the campus in 2016 (pictured above) 

Authorities also carried out several search warrants last year in both California and Washington. 

It is not clear if anything was found during those searches but two trucks belonging to the Flores family were seized as evidence at the time. 

The younger Flores, who has long been a suspect in Smart's 1996 disappearance, was a former classmate and the last known person to see Smart the night she vanished. He has never been charged over her disappearance

The younger Flores, who has long been a suspect in Smart’s 1996 disappearance, was a former classmate and the last known person to see Smart the night she vanished. He has never been charged over her disappearance

Investigators have long said that Flores was the last person to see Smart alive.

He told police at the time that he walked Smart back from the party but parted ways with her about a block from her dorm.

She was reported missing two days later by a friend but a search didn’t begin until days later due to a miscommunication between authorities.

During the investigation, four different search dogs trained to pick up the smell of human remains led police to Flores’ dorm room. 

No evidence was found in Flores’ room.

Smart was officially declared dead in 2002 but her body has never been found.

Various search efforts have been carried out over the years, including the excavation of three different hillside locations near the campus in 2016.

At the time, an investigator said a lead strongly suggested her remains might be buried near a large concrete letter ‘P’ that is the school’s landmark.

The search ended with no trace of Smart’s remains.   

Smart was officially declared dead in 2002 but her body has never been found

Smart was officially declared dead in 2002 but her body has never been found

Investigators have long said that Flores was the last person to see Smart alive. He told police at the time that he walked Smart back from the party but parted ways with her about a block from her dorm

Investigators have long said that Flores was the last person to see Smart alive. He told police at the time that he walked Smart back from the party but parted ways with her about a block from her dorm


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