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Kristin Smart’s father describes ‘crawling through culverts and dumpsters’ to find missing daughter


During a preliminary court hearing in San Luis Obispo Superior Court Monday, Stan Smart, (left) father of missing Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart, (right)  shared an emotional testimony on his relationship with his daughter and his heartbreaking attempts to find her

The man accused of killing California college student Kristin Smart in 1996 was sporting a black eye when he was questioned by police three days after her disappearance, it has been revealed. 

Paul Flores’ alleged injury was brought to light by a retired detective who testified during his preliminary hearing in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Wednesday. 

The hearing, which is expected to last over a week, began on Monday with testimony from Smart’s father Stan Smart, who recounted his desperate search for his daughter after she disappeared from Cal Poly University over 25 years ago on May 24, 1996.   

The father told the court about his ‘close, nurturing and wholesome’ relationship with his then-19-year-old daughter and described his own efforts to find her.  

‘I crawled through a lot of culverts. I looked through a lot of dumpsters’ during that time, Stan Smart told Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle.     

He said believed Cal Poly police were ‘ill equipped’ to handle his daughter’s disappearance and that he ‘wasn’t very satisfied’ with their attempts in finding her. 

‘They didn’t seem to have the expertise in the field with somebody who’s disappeared,’ Stan Smart added.   

The hearing continued into Wednesday, with Lawrence Kennedy, a retired Cal Poly police detective, testifying Flores, 44, had a black eye when he came in for questioning – three days after Smart vanished. 

Flores is accused of raping or attempting to rape Smart in his dorm room before killing her, while his father, Ruben Flores, 80, was charged as an accessory and is alleged to have helped conceal the body.  

The hearing is a part of a criminal case against Paul Flores, 44, (pictured) and his father Ruben Flores, 80, which is expected to last 12 days.

 The hearing is a part of a criminal case against Paul Flores, 44, (pictured) and his father Ruben Flores, 80, which is expected to last 12 days.

Ruben Flores (left) is pictured in court on July 14. A former tenant claimed Ruben would refer to Smart as a 'dirty slut'

Ruben Flores (left) is pictured in court on July 14. A former tenant claimed Ruben would refer to Smart as a ‘dirty slut’ 

Paul Flores, 44, is charged with murder in the commission of a rape or attempted rape.

Ruben Flores, 80, is charged with accessory after the fact

Paul Flores, 44, is charged with murder in the commission of a rape or attempted rape. His father, Ruben Flores, 80, is charged with accessory after the fact

A photo depicting Flores’ black eye had been kept aside for evidence, but the quality is poor and could not be enhanced to highlight Flores’ black eye.

Initially, Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen would not admit the photo as evidence because it could not be verified as authentic. 

He changed his mind and allowed the photo into evidence after the prosecution provided witnesses to confirm Flores’ black eye on May 27, 1996. 

Prosecutors will later play audio from Kennedy’s interview with Flores, following cross-examination from defense attorneys.         

Paul, who was 19 at the time of Kristin’s disappearance, was the last individual to see her alive before she vanished while walking home from a campus party 25 years ago.

He and his father were arrested in connection with Smart’s disappearance on April 13 in San Pedro and Arroyo Grande, and have pleaded not guilty to their charges. 

If convicted of first-degree murder, Paul could face 25 years to life, while Ruben could face up to three years.

Smart’s body has never been discovered, but investigators believe she was buried at the residence of Ruben Flores in Arroyo Grande, and ‘recently moved.’  

A series of of witnesses, including investigators, archaeologists and cadaver dog experts, as well as women who are expected to testify to Paul Flores’ past sexual assaults and predatory behavior.    

When called to the stand, Stan Smart (left) said he had a 'close, nurturing and wholesome,' relationship with his 19-year-old daughter, (right) and that he physically searched for Kristin following her disappearance on May 24, 1996.

When called to the stand, Stan Smart (left) said he had a ‘close, nurturing and wholesome,’ relationship with his 19-year-old daughter, (right) and that he physically searched for Kristin following her disappearance on May 24, 1996.

Stan Smart (right) said believed Cal Poly police were 'ill equipped' to handle his daughter's disappearance and that he 'wasn't very satisfied' with their attempts in finding her.

 Stan Smart (right) said believed Cal Poly police were ‘ill equipped’ to handle his daughter’s disappearance and that he ‘wasn’t very satisfied’ with their attempts in finding her.

'I crawled through a lot of culverts. I looked through a lot of dumpsters' during that time, Stan Smart (second from left) told Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle during Monday's preliminary hearing

‘I crawled through a lot of culverts. I looked through a lot of dumpsters’ during that time, Stan Smart (second from left) told Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle during Monday’s preliminary hearing 

In addition to Smart’s father testifying, Paul’s mother, Susan Flores, also took the stand Monday. 

However, when Van Rooyen swore Mrs. Flores in, she said she intended to invoke her Fifth Amendment rights if called to testify. 

The judge then ruled that she could not be called to the stand.

The hearing continued Tuesday with Matthew Toomey, Cheryl Manzer, and Detective Clinton Cole taking the stand. 

Toomey and Mazner both resided in the Sierra Madre dorms and attended the party on May 24, 1996.  

Toomey said he arrived at the party with his friend, Ross, whom Kristin supposedly kissed that night. He said Paul Flores approached him and began inquiring about Kristin and whether or not she was dating Ross.  

Based off the way Flores was asking questions about Kristin, Toomey said it appeared as if he were interested in her. 

Toomey also described Flores as ‘being socially awkward.’

When Toomey and Ross left the party around midnight, he told the court he noticed Kristin lying on a nearby lawn intoxicated. When he offered to help her, Toomey said Kristin told him to ‘leave me alone.’

When Mazner took the stand, she told Peuvrelle she left the party at around 1 a.m. with a friend and noticed another friend assisting Kristin Smart off the ground. 

Mazner said the four of them walked back to the dorms together, with Flores later joining the group, placing his arm around her waist. 

When Mazner got to the corner of the street, she split off from Smart and Flores, before asking Flores if he would escort Smart back to her dorm.

Paul Flores, 44, was arrested in April for Smart's murder. He has denied any wrongdoing

Paul Flores, 44, was arrested in April for Smart’s murder. He has denied any wrongdoing 

In February 2020, police executed a search warrant at Paul's San Pedro, California, home, and seized electronic devices containing homemade videos and rape porn, prosecutors say

In February 2020, police executed a search warrant at Paul’s San Pedro, California, home, and seized electronic devices containing homemade videos and rape porn, prosecutors say 

Two searches were carried out in February and March 2020 as part of the investigation into Smart's death

Two searches were carried out in February and March 2020 as part of the investigation into Smart’s death 

‘Yes,’ Flores replied, according to Mazner. 

Mazner testified that the last thing she saw before leaving was Paul with his arm around Kristin’s waist. 

‘I didn’t think anything bad would happen to her,’ she said. 

Kristin’s friends told detectives Paul had been ‘lurking’ around her dorm and seemed to be ‘hunting her’ in the weeks before she vanished. 

It’s unclear if her friends told cops that he’d been following her back in 1996, when she first vanished, or if they made the claim more recently.   

The case was unsolved for 25 years until earlier this year when a popular Spotify podcast titled Your Own Backyard prompted detectives to revive their investigation and ultimately arrest Flores and his father. 

“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,” San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson told FOX 40 in Sacramento in April.

The witness led investigators back to Paul Flores, the prime person of interest in her disappearance. 

Documents obtained by the San Luis Obispo Tribune describe how police found videos that showed Flores raping a drunk woman when they searched his home earlier this year. 

Police also found a pornographic film titled ‘Real Drunken Girls Drugged and Raped While Passed Out.’ According to the prosecutor, the videos were stored in a computer file labeled ‘Practice.’

The search further yielded ‘fetishized rape fantasy porn’ and prescription drug medications that could be used as date rape drugs, especially when taken with alcohol.

Meanwhile, a separate search at the home of Ruben Flores earlier this year turned up likely traces of human blood and a patch of dug-up dirt beneath a deck, where authorities believe Smart’s body was once buried.



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