SLO District Attorney Charges Paul Flores and Father for 1996 Murder of Kristin Smart
By edhat staff
The San Luis Obispo District Attorney formally charged Paul Flores and his father Rueben Flores on Wednesday for the 1996 murder of Kristin Smart.
District Attorney Dan Dow announced Paul Flores, 44, has been charged with first-degree murder. It is alleged he caused Smart's death while in the commission of or attempt to commit rape. Ruben Flores, 80, is charged with accessory after the fact to the crime of murder. The allegation is that Ruben helped conceal Kristin's body after she was murdered, according to Dow.
"These charges mark a major milestone," said Dow. "Today, we make the first move toward bringing justice to Kristin, her family, and the people of San Luis Obispo County."
Smart was 19-years-old at the end of her freshman year of college on May 25, 1996, when she disappeared on the campus of Cal Poly. She was being walked back to her dorm by four people including Paul Flores, then 19, following an off-campus party the night she disappeared. Paul Flores maintains his innocence stating they parted ways when he reached his dormitory which was before hers. Smart is believed to have been abducted and killed, and was legally presumed dead on May 25, 2002.
"This month we celebrate the rights of crime victims, a reminder that our role is to help victims and their families achieve justice," Dow said. "The system is called the 'criminal justice system,' but I think it should be renamed the ‘criminal AND VICTIM justice system’ so that we can all improve that focus. Kristin's family has been incredibly gracious through the years. They have willed this moment to happen and we owe them a large debt of gratitude."
Sheriff Ian Parkinson held a press conference Tuesday afternoon and confirmed Paul Flores, the prime suspect in the case, was arrested for the murder of Kristin Smart around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday in San Pedro. Ruben Flores, was arrested at the same time in Arroyo Grande. Newly discovered forensic physical evidence was discovered that Parkinson believes is linked to Smart, but he clarified her body has yet to be discovered.
"We have not recovered Kristin. We'll continue to focus on finding her remains regardless of any court action," said Parkinson.
Kristin Smart (courtesy photo)
The family of Kristin Smart released a statement following the Sheriff's announcement:
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. 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. 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. 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.
We honor Kristin today and those who worked with unparalleled tenacity and dedication to bring us to this day. Without Kristin in our life, there will never be justice, but we will pray for peace. Unfortunately, the indifference and lack of resolve we experienced early on set the course for many years. However, when Sheriff Parkinson took office in 2011, he made a promise that Kristin’s disappearance would be one of his top priorities. We are here today because he has remained true to his word. We have kept the faith; never given up; and fully placed our trust and support with him and his team.
The task he and his team accepted was unprecedented in volume and scope, yet they met every setback and challenge with resolve and an unequaled commitment to Kristin and our family. Our gratitude to Sheriff Parkinson and his department for their professionalism, compassion, and perseverance is without measure. We are forever grateful for Detective Clint Cole who joined ‘Team Kristin’ in 2017 and brought new oxygen to Team Kristin and kept our hopes alive. We would not be here today without his professionalism, perseverance, and dedication. His heart and commitment are without equal.We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the exceptional skills, indefatigable work and unselfish dedication of Christopher Lambert who produced Your Own Backyard Podcast. Chris, along with four incredible angels (C, J, J, and J), balanced Kristin on their shoulders while lightening our burden and held our hearts and hopes with fierce resolve and commitment. There simply are ‘no words’!
We also wish to extend our deepest gratitude for all those on the SLOSO team, including Commander Nate Paul, Detective Cole, and their incredible and dedicated support staff. To each law enforcement agency that assisted the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department with their extraordinary efforts, our gratitude is immeasurable. Each gave 110% to ensure that this day would come.
We are pleased that Kristin’s case has now moved to the district attorney’s office, where we know we will be in good hands, and look forward to the day when there will be ‘justice’ for Kristin.
To HEAL, we must REMEMBER not only Kristin but also every heart that carried Kristin and our family in theirs! Kristin’s story is ultimately one of unwavering commitment, resilience and immense gratitude.
The District Attorney's Office is also seeking the public’s assistance in providing any information about this case or information on other potential crimes believed to have been perpetrated by Paul Ruben Flores, including assault or other acts. Flores was known to frequent bars in the San Pedro area from 2005 to present. Individuals with any information are encouraged to contact San Luis Obispo County Crime Stoppers at 805-549-7867 or go to www.slotips.org.
Both defendants are scheduled to be arraigned in Department 3 at 8:30 am, Thursday, April 15th.
- January 29, 2020:
- February 5, 2020:
- April 22, 2020:
- March 16, 2021:
- April 13, 2021: San Luis Sheriff Arrests Suspects for Murder of Kristin Smart