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Investigators are crediting a popular podcast for helping to provide information that led to a break in the Kristin Smart case, which remained unsolved for decades before arrests were made earlier this week.
Paul Flores, 44, and his 80-year-old father, Ruben Flores. were both taken into custody on Tuesday morning. Paul Flores, who attended California Polytechnic State University with Smart, has always been the key suspect in her vanishing; he was the last person to see her alive, having escorted her home from a college party the night she vanished. While her remains have not been found, she was declared legally dead in 2002.
While Paul Flores has denied any involvement in Smart’s disappearance, he has been eyed by detectives for years. Neither father nor son entered any plea during their first court appearance on Thursday, local outlet KSBY reports. Dan Dow, San Luis Obispo County district attorney, stated at a Wednesday press conference that investigators think he killed Smart during a rape attempt and that his father was an accessory to the crime.
"In 2019, we interviewed several witnesses that had not been previously interviewed and [...] some of that information came to light through the podcast that many of you are familiar with," he said.
Parkinson said that with the new witnesses came new evidence, which resulted in the discovery of physical evidence allegedly related to the disappearance. The arrest warrants were signed as a result.
“They are witnesses that are not included in the podcast presentation — specifically because the info they had to share was sensitive and I did not believe that it should be public until it was brought to the investigators," the podcast's creator Chris Lambert told Oxygen.com on Thursday.
The eight-part podcast delved into and discussed at length the possibility of Paul Flores being involved in Smart’s disappearance.
A Tuesday statement from the Smart family, obtained by Oxygen.com, reads: “We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the exceptional skills, indefatigable work and unselfish dedication of Christopher Lambert [...]”
Multiple houses related to the Flores family have been searched multiple times over the past year. Some of the most recent searches were conducted on the Flores family just last month, which prompted Paul Flores’s mother to tell the media that she felt harassed. Paul Flores is now being held on no bail while his dad is being held on a $200K bond.
Lambert told Oxygen.com that there were times he had a hard time sleeping over the past year, expecting to wake up to a press conference. On Tuesday, that day had finally come.
Lambert maintains that he wasn't "qualified" to undergo the work he did for the podcast.
"All I did was care," he said. "I’m a singer-songwriter by profession so I have no business investigating a missing persons case the way that I did, calling people and asking them to share their stories. That’s the big takeaway. I don’t have some special skill that nobody else has. I just took the time and really gave it a shot. I think anybody could accomplish this if they had the time to put it."
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