Cops carry out new search for Kristin Smart’s remains


Investigators use ground penetrating radar in search for Kristin Smart’s remains at family home of prime suspect in her 1996 disappearance

  • Authorities conducted a new search warrant on Monday related to the 1996 disappearance of California college student Kristin Smart  
  • Investigators brought in ground penetrating radar equipment and cadaver dogs to search the home in Arroyo Grande
  • The home belongs to Ruben Flores, the father of Paul Flores who has long been a suspect in Smart’s disappearance
  • Smart was last seen in the early hours of May 15, 1996 when she returned to her dorm after a party near the California Polytechnic State University campus
  • Flores, now 44, was the last known person to see Smart the night she vanished 

The decades-long search for missing California college student Kristin Smart has taken a new turn with investigators conducting a search warrant at the family home of the prime suspect in her disappearance. 

Investigators brought in ground penetrating radar equipment and cadaver dogs to search the home in Arroyo Grande on Monday morning.  

The San Louis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said the home belongs to Ruben Flores, the father of Paul Flores who has long been a suspect in Smart’s 1996 disappearance.

The investigators say the search of the property using the new tactics could take up to two days to complete.

Smart was last seen in the early hours of May 15, 1996 when she returned to her dorm after a party near the California Polytechnic State University campus. 

Paul Flores has long been a suspect in Smart's 1996 disappearance. The sheriff's office said Flores, who has never been charged, is still 'prime suspect' in Smart's disappearance

The decades-long search for missing California college student Kristin Smart has taken a new turn with investigators conducting a search warrant at the family home of the prime suspect, Paul Flores, in her disappearance

Investigators brought in ground penetrating radar equipment and cadaver dogs to search the home in Arroyo Grande, California on Monday in the search for Kristin Smart's remains

Investigators brought in ground penetrating radar equipment and cadaver dogs to search the home in Arroyo Grande, California on Monday in the search for Kristin Smart’s remains

Flores, now 44, was a former classmate and the last known person to see Smart the night she vanished. 

The sheriff’s office said Flores, who has never been charged, is still ‘prime suspect’ in Smart’s disappearance. 

The search warrant related to his father’s home is currently under seal so no other details about the efforts are being released by authorities. 

Authorities also carried out several search warrants last year in both California and Washington.  

It is not clear if anything was found during those searches but two trucks belonging to the Flores family were seized as evidence at the time. 

A spokesperson for the Smart family said the were ‘encouraged’ by Monday’s search.  

‘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 family said. 

It comes just weeks after Flores was arrested on a weapons charge stemming from an April 2020 search of his property in relation to the Smart investigation. 

The search warrant related to his father's home (above) is currently under seal so no other details about the efforts are being released by authorities

The search warrant related to his father’s home (above) is currently under seal so no other details about the efforts are being released by authorities

The investigators say the search of the property using the new tactics could take up to two days to complete

The investigators say the search of the property using the new tactics could take up to two days to complete

Flores, who isn’t allowed to have a firearm because of a felony DUI conviction, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. 

He was later released on bond.  

Flores was the last person to see Smart alive, according to investigators.

He told police at the time that he walked Smart back from the party but parted ways with her about a block from her dorm.

She was reported missing two days later by a friend but a search didn’t begin until days later due to a miscommunication between authorities.

During the investigation, four different search dogs trained to pick up the smell of human remains led police to Flores’ dorm room. 

No evidence was found in Flores’ room.

Smart was officially declared dead in 2002 but her body has never been found.

Various search efforts have been carried out over the years, including the excavation of three different hillside locations near the campus in 2016.

At the time, an investigator said a lead strongly suggested her remains might be buried near a large concrete letter ‘P’ that is the school’s landmark.

The search ended with no trace of Smart’s remains.  

Authorities also carried out several search warrants last year in both California and Washington. It is not clear if anything was found during those searches

Authorities also carried out several search warrants last year in both California and Washington. It is not clear if anything was found during those searches 

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