Police say that the chances of finding a missing person are greatest during the first 48 hours after their disappearance. After that, their case starts to grow cold. Sometimes the missing person is presumed dead. At other times, theories develop that keep their loved ones guessing — and hoping. This is true of Maura Murray, who disappeared 13 years ago after emailing her college professors that she was taking time off due to a death in the family. Turns out, there was no death. Oxygen’s “The Disappearance of Maura Murray,” premiering Sept. 23 at 8:15/7:15c, sheds light on unexplored leads.
Kristin Smart disappeared on May 25, 1996 after three fellow students at California Polytechnic State University helped her back to her residence hall after a party. At about 2:00 a.m., students Cheryl Anderson and Tim Davis found Kristin passed out on a neighbor's lawn and helped bring her to the dorm, along with Paul Flores. Paul was the last to see Kristin alive. He told police he walked her to her dorm. Kristin didn’t have any money or credit cards at the time of her vanishing.
At first the university’s police thought she might have taken a vacation as it was Memorial Day weekend, and they were slow to investigate or file a missing person report to local law enforcement.
Bizarrely, rumors spread that Scott Peterson had something to do with the case because of their simultaneous attendance at the campus. He was ruled out as a suspect by police. Kristin also has no relation to Elizabeth Smart.
For years, searches were conducted on several properties owned by Paul Flores’ family, but no incriminating evidence of any kind has ever been found.
In 2016, the San Luis Obispo Sheriff Department said it received information about the possible location of her remains. A hillside excavation on the Cal Poly campus was launched, and after three days of digging bones were recovered from one of the sites. The bones and other “items of interest” are currently being analyzed.
Kristin’s parents filed a wrongful death civil case against Paul Flores in 2005, which they later dropped. The Flores family filed a lawsuit against the Smart family for emotional distress.
The case remains unsolved.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Los Angeles Field Office of the FBI at (310) 477-6565.
[NBC San Diego]