Two men associated with the 1996 case of Kristin Smart have been charged for their roles in her disappearance, the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office announced during a Tuesday press conference.
Paul Flores, Smart’s former college classmate and the prime suspect in the 25-year-old case, was arrested Tuesday and charged with her murder. His father, Ruben Flores, was charged with being an accessory after the fact. Both were booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail, where the older Flores is being held on a $250,000 bond. Paul Flores was denied bail.
Smart, then a first-year student at California Polytechnic State University, vanished after attending a party on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend in 1996, according to a report from People magazine.
Smart’s body has not yet been recovered, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said during the Tuesday briefing. She was declared dead in 2002.
“They’re feeling a bit of relief, but, as you can imagine, until we return Kristin to them, this is not over,” Parkinson said of how Smart’s family is handling the news. “We have committed to them that we are not going to stop until Kristin has been recovered, no matter what the cost, no matter what the time.”
Authorities said Paul Flores may have been the last person to see Smart. He reportedly walked her home from the off-campus party that night after she’d been drinking, according to People.
Investigators retrieved physical evidence linked to Smart’s disappearance during various searches of the homes of Paul Flores, Ruben Flores, and Paul Flores’s mother and sister conducted since 2016.
Paul Flores has maintained his innocence over the years. Parkinson suspects he will be arraigned on Thursday.
One of his attorneys, Robert Sanger, declined to comment on the case to The Hill.
Parkinson speculated that due to the high-profile nature of the case, the trial for both men may not take place in San Luis Obispo County.
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