Suspect in 1996 murder of Kristin Smart to make 1st court appearance

Paul Flores, the man charged with murder this week in connection to the 1996 disappearance of his college classmate, Kristin Smart, is due to make his first court appearance on Thursday.

Smart, a 19-year-old freshman at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo disappeared in the early hours of May 25, 1996, after a party near school.

Flores — who was arrested for murder on Tuesday — walked Smart home from that party, and previously was named the “prime suspect,” authorities said.

Flores is accused of causing the teen’s death during an attempted rape, San Luis Obispo District Attorney Dan Dow said Wednesday.

PHOTO: Paul Flores of San Pedro, Calif., is pictured in a booking photo released by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's office on April 13, 2021.

Flores’ father, Ruben Flores, is accused of helping conceal Smart’s body after the murder, Dow said.

Ruben Flores was charged Tuesday as an accessory to the murder after the fact and is also due in court Thursday.

PHOTO: Ruben Flores of Arroyo Grande, Calif., is pictured in a booking photo released by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's office on April 13, 2021.

Despite this week’s arrests, Smart’s remains have not been found, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said.

“We are not going to stop until Kristin has been recovered,” he said Tuesday.

PHOTO: An undated photo released by the FBI shows Kristin Smart, the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo student who disappeared in 1996.

Smart’s family said in a statement Tuesday: “For over twenty-four years, we have waited for this bittersweet day. It is impossible to put into words what this day means for our family; we pray it is the first step to bringing our daughter home.”

“The knowledge that a father and son, despite our desperate pleas for help, could have withheld this horrible secret for nearly 25 years, denying us the chance to lay our daughter to rest, is an unrelenting and unforgiving pain,” the family said. “We now put our faith in the justice system and move forward, comforted in the knowledge that Kristin has been held in the hearts of so many and that she has not been forgotten.”

Dow said Wednesday that his office is seeking information from the public on other potential crimes committed by Paul Flores or his father.

“Paul Flores was known to frequent bars in the San Pedro area from 2005 until the present day,” Dow said, asking anyone with information to call San Luis Obispo County Crime Stoppers at 805-549-7867.

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