Kristin Smart case: Police name male classmate prime suspect, search his father’s home

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office / Twitter

Police officers investigating the 1996 disappearance of California college student Kristin Smart are searching the home belonging to the father of their “prime suspect,” the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

“The Sheriff’s Office is announcing today that it has served a search warrant at the Arroyo Grande home of Ruben Flores,” the statement reads.

“Flores is the father of Paul Flores, who remains the prime suspect in the disappearance of Kristin Smart in 1996.”

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Smart, a student at California Polytechnic State University, vanished while walking home from an off-campus party in 1996.

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She was last seen walking with her classmate Paul Flores.

Flores has never been arrested or charged in connection with Smart’s disappearance.

He was, however, arrested in February on an unrelated weapons charge.

Police also executed a search warrant at his home seeking “specific items of evidence” in April 2020.

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Smart was declared legally dead by police in May 2002. Officers conducted digs on campus grounds in 2016.

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times on Monday, Smart’s family said they are “encouraged by the news of today’s search of Ruben Flores’ property.”

“We appreciate the vigilance and professionalism of Sheriff Ian Parkinson and his department and our family looks forward to learning more in the hours and days ahead,” the statement read.

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The Sheriff’s Office said it has been authorized to use cadaver dogs and “ground penetrating radar” during the search.

Officers said the process could take up to two days to complete.

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“The search warrant has been sealed,” the Sheriff’s Office said. “As a result, we are precluded by law from disclosing any further details regarding it.”

Police said it 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.”

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