Kristin Smart, 19, of Stockton, California, went missing in May 1996 after returning to her dorm at California Polytechnic State University campus in San Luis Obispo. The case received widespread attention from Chris Lambert’s Your Own Backyard podcast dedicated to investigating Smart’s disappearance, which he began in September 2019.
The last person who was thought to have seen Smart alive was Paul Flores, 44, who was also a freshman at the time, when he offered to walk Smart back to her dorm. Since Smart’s disappearance, Flores has been a person of interest, suspect, and prime suspect. Now, District Attorney Dan Dow alleges that Flores killed her in his dorm room following an attempted rape. On Tuesday, April 13, Flores was arrested for her murder, and his father Ruben Flores, 80, was arrested as an accessory to murder for allegedly helping his son conceal Smart’s body, which has never been found.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said that they arrested the father and son on Tuesday after a search at Ruben Flores’ home using ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs last month resulted in new evidence linked to Smart’s disappearance… Parkinson also credited the Your Own Backyard podcast with raising awareness of the case which resulted in “valuable information” after a key witness came forward.
The Associated Press calls it “the latest in a line of true-crime podcasts credited with producing results in court,” noting investigations by the Up and Vanished podcast also “led a man to confess to killing a Georgia beauty queen.”
And they list some of the “compelling clues” uncovered by the podcaster investigating Kristin Smart’s disappearance:
A former colleague of Paul Flores’ mother, Susan Flores, told him Mrs. Flores came into work after Memorial Day weekend 1996 — when Smart went missing — saying she didn’t sleep well because her husband had gotten a phone call in the middle of the night and left in his car. “The speculation has been all along that Paul called his dad in the middle of the night and his dad came up and helped him get rid of Kristin’s body,” Lambert said.
A tenant who lived for a year at Susan Flores’ home told him she heard a watch alarm every morning at 4:20 a.m. Smart had worked as a lifeguard at 5 a.m. at the Cal Poly pool, so it’s possible she set her watch to wake up at that early hour.
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