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Kristin Smart Case: SLO Sheriff’s Office Searches Home of Prime Suspect’s Father



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The San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant Monday at the Arroyo Grande home of Ruben Flores, according to a news release. Flores is the father of Paul Flores, who remains the prime suspect in the disappearance of Kristin Smart in 1996.

Smart, 19, was attending California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and vanished after leaving a party. She had been seen at the time with Paul Flores, who was a fellow student. Though he remains under suspicion, Flores has never been arrested or charged in the case.

Investigators have s been authorized to utilize cadaver dogs and ground penetrating radar during the course of the search of the Flores home. This process could take up to two days to complete, officials said.

In a statement the Sheriff’s Office says, “The search warrant has been sealed. As a result, we are precluded by law from disclosing any further details regarding it. This is an active and on-going investigation. The Sheriff’s Office will not be commenting any further and no additional information will be released at this time.”

Photo of Kristen Smart

FILE – Undated photo released by the FBI shows Kristin Smart, the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo student who disappeared in 1996. Smart was last seen in May 1996, while returning to her dorm after an off-campus party. Search warrants were served Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, at locations in California and Washington state in the investigation of Smart’s disappearance, authorities said. (FBI via AP)

2020 Search Warrants

On Feb. 5, 2020, search warrants were served at locations in California and Washington state in the investigation.

The Sheriff’s Office said warrants were served at two locations in San Luis Obispo County, one location in Los Angeles County and one location in Washington.

The Sheriff’s Office said it announced the search warrants because of the high-profile nature of the investigation and to avoid misinformation. No further details about the locations of the searches and what authorities are looking for were disclosed.

Podcast Prompts Interest in Case

Interest in the disappearance has been revived at times, most recently due to a locally produced podcast.

On Jan. 29, 2020, the Sheriff’s Office issued a statement in response to public inquiries that summarized continuing work on the case since 2011, when the current sheriff, Ian Parkinson, took over the department.

It included serving 18 search warrants, physical evidence searches at nine separate locations, a complete re-examination of every item of physical evidence seized by all agencies involved in this case and submission of 37 evidence items from the early days of the case for modern DNA testing.

The Sheriff’s Office also said it had recovered 140 new items of evidence, conducted 91 person-to-person interviews and produced 364 supplemental written reports.

“Although it is generally not our practice to comment on items of evidence in active investigations, in this specific case we can confirm that the Sheriff’s Office currently holds two trucks in evidence that belonged to Flores family members in 1996,” that statement noted.

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