Two men were arrested Tuesday morning in connection with the disappearance of Kristin Smart, the California college student who vanished in 1996, a spokesman for the family and two law enforcement sources confirmed to CNN.
Paul Flores is pictured in court in 2006 over missing woman Kristin Smart. Police are again searching home linked to 'prime suspect'.
Paul Flores (left), and Ruben Flores.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson announced his detectives found evidence related to the murder of Kristin Smart at the homes of both Paul Flores and his father Rubin Flores, during a press conference on Tuesday.
Smart, a student at California Polytechnic State University, was last seen at about 2 a.m. on May 25, 1996, authorities said. Paul Flores was the last person to see the 19-year-old alive, according to witnesses.
"While Kristin's loving spirit will always live in our hearts, our life without her hugs, laughs and smiles is a heartache that never abates", they said.
"The knowledge that a father and son, despite our desperate pleas for help, could have withheld this terrible secret for almost 25 years, denying us the chance to lay our daughter to rest, is an unrelenting and unforgiving pain", the statement said.
In February 2020, detectives served search warrants at the homes of Paul Flores and his family, the sheriff said. And the arrests come a month after new searches were conducted at Ruben Flores's home, including a search under a back deck and in the backyard with ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs.
"Driving past that billboard was a periodic reminder that, oh yeah, they still haven't found that girl", Lambert said in a video posted on the podcast website. "It has been 24 - nearly 25 years - since Kristin went missing".
"This is where it all began on the campus of Cal Poly University", Parkinson said. He acknowledged missteps by law enforcement hampered the investigation. The case began as a missing persons case when Smart disappeared after an on-campus party on Memorial Day Weekend in 1996. He reportedly "pulled his arms into his T-shirt, scrunched over at the waist in his chair and lifted his feet off the floor, as if moving toward a fetal position" and said, "If you are so smart, then tell me where the body is".
In the meantime, the SLO County District Attorney's Office is spearheading the investigation. Sheriff's investigators didn't get involved until a month later.
"There really is no hiding the fact that there was mistakes made early on and it made it much more hard", Parkinson said. Parkinson on Tuesday declined to discuss the details of the search warrants leading to the new arrests, and he did not reveal the alleged motive.
"It's been a puzzle, and it's a very slow process to find each of these little pieces", he said. The size of the file on Smart's disappearance, Parkinson estimated, would be more than three terabytes.
He was held without bail.
Sheriff Parkinson said his bail had been set at $250,000.