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Kristin Smart Vanished In 1996 — Now Investigators Are Revealing New Details Of The Cold Case

Paul Flores, the last person to see the California college freshman alive, has long been a person of interest in the case.

By Gina Tron

Authorities confirm they have confiscated two trucks with ties to the main person of interest in the 1996 disappearance of Kristin Smart.

Due to a high volume of recent public inquiries, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s investigators have revealed in a Wednesday news release that there have been some recent developments in the search for Smart, a California Polytechnic State University student who vanished in 1996.

Smart vanished from her college campus when she was a 19-year-old freshman. She disappeared after being escorted to her dorm by two students, including Paul Flores, following a party. 

“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,” the statement reads.

The focus of the original investigation often centered around Flores, though he was never charged. Flores was the last person to see Smart. Flores claimed he walked Smart as far as his dorm, before letting her walk to her own dorm room by herself. He had a black eye the day after Smart’s vanishing and scent dogs trained to alert at the smell of human remains led investigators to his dorm room, though no evidence was found, a 1998 San Francisco Examiner story reported.

Four women later claimed Flores had sexually assaulted them in a 2016 report.

Smart was declared legally dead in 2002.

In addition to the disclosure about the trucks, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department has announced that since 2011, they have recovered "140 new items of evidence” and served 18 search warrants. They say they have conducted 91 in-person interviews and submitted almost 40 pieces of evidence to be reexamined using newer DNA-testing methods. This new effort all began when Sheriff Ian Parkinson took office in 2011. 

Interest was piqued in the case last week after Smart’s mother, Denise Smart, told California newspaper The Stockton Record that they were told by authorities to brace themselves for a break in the case and a vital announcement.

The family later clarified in a statement, obtained by Oxygen.com, that “the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation and they are not putting any timetable on the completion of it.  We support the Sheriff Department's efforts and commitment. It is vitally important that they take the necessary time required.”

The "Your Own Backyard" podcast, which focuses on the case, also has renewed interest in the case. The two trucks have been of particular interest to the 2019 podcast, according to KSBY in San Luis.