Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!
The main suspect in Kristin Smart's 1996 disappearance is headed to trial for her murder and his father will also face proceedings for allegedly helping him bury her body.
“The preliminary hearing has concluded in the cases of Paul and Ruben Flores,” the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's office tweeted on Wednesday. “A judge has determined sufficient evidence was presented for the two to be tried.”
San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen ruled on Wednesday that there was probable cause that Paul Flores, 44, killed Smart and that his 80-year-old father Ruben Flores helped him dispose of the body, the Associated Press reports.
Gasps were audible from the gallery where Smart’s family sat.
Paul Flores has always been the key suspect in the disappearance of 19-year-old Smart, who vanished after attending an off-campus party near California Polytechnic University in 1996. She was last seen being escorted back to her dorm by Flores, who was at the time her classmate. Dan Dow, the San Luis Obispo County district attorney, said at a press conference earlier this year that investigators believe Flores killed Smart during a rape attempt in his dorm room.
"We continue to support the family of Kristin Smart as we work toward justice," Dow stated on Wednesday.
The father and son were both taken into custody in April. Paul Flores has been charged with first-degree murder and Ruben Flores has been charged with being an accessory. Both have pleaded not guilty.
During the preliminary hearing, prosecutors showed evidence that they say proves that Smart’s body was once buried under a deck behind Ruben Flores’ home. Smart’s body has never been found. Prosecutors theorized that she has been moved to another location, according to the Associated Press. Prosecutors also presented evidence that four cadaver dogs alerted to the scent of death near Paul Flores’s bed.
Prosecutors were not allowed to present evidence that Paul Flores has been accused of being a serial rapist who drugged, raped, and stalked multiple women.
Prosecutors have previously alleged in court documents that “dozens of women have recounted Paul Flores’ sexual assaults and predatory behavior that document his 25 years as a serial rapist.” Earlier this year, Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office released reports that showed investigators eyed him in 2012 when his DNA profile allegedly matched a sample collected from a Southern California woman who was sexually assaulted in 2007.
The preliminary hearing lasted a month and a half.
"Yesterday was a very good day and we want to take this opportunity to thank all of Kristin’s supporters in San Luis Obispo and beyond. So many people have played such important roles over the past 25 years, and we humbled by the amazing support and generosity we have received. We want to especially thank the District Attorney’s Office for their relentless efforts," Smart's family said in a statement to Oxygen.com.
"Our family has always known that this was going to be a long, difficult, and emotional journey. We are now one step closer to justice for Kristin. She – and all who have worked so hard toward this day – deserve nothing less."
Crime News is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for Oxygen Insider for all the best true crime content.