Kristin Smart. Photo: abcnews
Kristin Smart. Photo: abcnews

For nearly 25 years, the family of Kristin Smart worked to bring justice to the Cal Poly student.

They immediately took an active role when she first went missing on the campus in 1996 and over the years held countless news conferences and went to court on behalf of Smart. They were open about the fact that they believed the longtime suspect, Paul Flores, killed Smart and at one point even sued in civil court.

Then on Tuesday, the news they’d been waiting for finally occurred. San Luis Obispo County authorities arrested Flores, along with his father, in connection with Smart’s slaying.

Who was Kristen Smart?

Kristen was a 19-year-old and a California Polytechnic State University student who went missing in 1996. She was legally declared dead in 2002, but her body has not been found yet. Kristen’s case became one of the most talked-about cases due to her nature of disappearance.

Authorities found it hard to trace her down as the evidence at their disposal was not enough. Kristen disappeared on May 25, 1996, after attending a birthday party, as reported by Los Angeles Times. After Kristen was reported to be missing, investigations had taken place, but nothing had been fruitful.

In 2002, she was legally declared dead. Following this, in 2004, Kristen’s mother Denise Smart kept two billboards to raise awareness about her case. The billboard read: “We want to keep Kristin’s memory alive. Billboards are the only way we can remind people that she’s still missing after eight years. It’s the only gift we can give to her to make sure she’s not forgotten.”

For years, Kristen’s parents pressed on going on with the investigation. On April 13, the police finally made an arrest, according to Hitc.

What’s the Kristin Smart Case?

It was supposed to just be a party. On Memorial Day weekend, Smart attended a birthday party for a friend at a fraternity house. Her friends didn’t want to attend, so they dropped off Smart alone. It was a long weekend on a college campus, specifically California Polytechnic State University, better known to locals as Cal Poly. In many ways, it was like thousands of other nights that happen across college campuses dozens of times a year.

Around 2 a.m. she was found passed out on a neighbor’s lawn. Two students who also attended the party, Cheryl Anderson and Tim Davis, helped Smart stand up and led her back to her nearby dorm. They were joined by Paul Flores, another student from the party. As the night got late, their little band dispersed. Davis was the first to leave, followed by Anderson. During Smart’s last known sighting she was with Flores, still drunk and without any money or credit cards. Flores has maintained that he had nothing to do with her disappearance.

Six years after her disappearance, Smart was legally pronounced dead. Her disappearance, and the slow response from police, led to the Kristin Smart Campus Security Act. This law required the security services to all public colleges and publicly funded educational institutions to make agreements with their local police departments about reporting cases that involved possible violence against students.

Over the years Smart’s parents have pursued this case, almost always targeting Flores. They weren’t the only ones who kept the case in mind. In 2019, musician Chris Lambert released an eight-episode podcast series about Smart’s disappearance, Your Own Backyard, which led to the renewed public interest. That interest paid off. In January and April of 2020 two of Flores’ trucks and a number of personal possessions were taken as “items of interest.” Finally, on April 13 of this year, Paul Flores and his father Ruben Flores were taken into police custody in relation to Smart’s disappearance, Decider reported.

Kristin Smart Case: A Timeline of Searches and Arrests

Photo: foxla
Photo: foxla

MAY 25, 1996: The Disappearance

Ms. Smart, who was from Stockton, Calif., was a freshman at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. On May 25, 1996, friends dropped her off at an off-campus party. She left around 2 a.m. and was accompanied by Paul Flores, who was also a student at Cal Poly. He later told investigators that he walked her as far as his dorm, where they parted ways.

A missing-person report was filed with the campus police on May 28.

The next month, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office took over from the Cal Poly police as the lead investigators.

1996-1997: The Search

The search for Ms. Smart, who was nicknamed “Roxy,” took many forms. Soon after her disappearance, a sheriff’s search party combed remote parts of the Cal Poly campus on horseback, archival video from KCRA-TV shows. Helicopters were used to canvas the area. The police searched her dorm room in Muir Hall, finding her wallet and reminders to turn in assignments. Cadaver dogs were sent into Paul Flores’s dorm room.

Paul Flores was identified as a “person of interest” early in the case. He has denied any involvement.

Missing-person posters and billboards offering rewards appeared along roads and in other public places. Ms. Smart’s acquaintances were interviewed. They described dropping her off at the party at an unofficial fraternity house and said that when it was over, she needed support to walk as she was being accompanied home by Paul Flores.

The Smart family filed a $40 million wrongful death lawsuit against Paul Flores in 1997, but he was not immediately charged criminally in the case. He refused to answer questions during a deposition in November 1997, citing the Fifth Amendment.

2002-2020: The Investigation

Ms. Smart’s family declared her legally dead in 2002, but the search, and the investigation, continued. In 2004, the family sought donations to keep billboards up along Highway 101 to maintain awareness of the case, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Cadaver dogs trained to detect human decomposition were deployed by the F.B.I. to search on and near the Cal Poly campus. One of those areas was a hillside above the campus. In 2016, earthmovers carved into the soil there but did not turn up remains.

The Sheriff’s Office investigators and forensic specialists assigned to Ms. Smart’s case executed 18 search warrants, submitted 37 items that were collected in the early days of the case for DNA testing, recovered 140 new items of evidence, and conducted 91 interviews from 2011 to 2020, the office said.

2020-2021: The arrests

The authorities began to describe Paul Flores as a “prime suspect” in the case. Two trucks that belonged to members of the Flores family in 1996 were taken as evidence. In February 2020, the authorities executed search warrants at four locations in California and Washington State and recovered what the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office described as “items of interest.” One location was the Los Angeles home of Paul Flores, KCAL-TV reported.

In March 2021, investigators used cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar to search Ruben Flores’s property in Arroyo Grande, Calif.

Paul Flores was taken into custody at his home in the San Pedro section of Los Angeles on April 13, 2021, and was charged with murder. Ruben Flores, 80, was arrested at his home on the same day and was charged with being an accessory after the fact.

The next day, Dan Dow, the San Luis Obispo County district attorney, said that Paul Flores “caused the death” of Ms. Smart “while in the commission of, or attempted rape.” Ruben Flores helped to hide her remains, he said.

Ms. Smart’s family released a statement after the arrests were announced.

“We now put our faith in the justice system and move forward,” they said, “comforted in the knowledge that Kristin has been held in the hearts of so many and that she has not been forgotten.” The New York Times cited.

Is There a Kristin Smart Documentary on Netflix? Is There a Kristin Smart Documentary on Hulu?

No. Neither Netflix nor Hulu have documentaries about the Kristin Smart case.

Is There a Kristin Smart Documentary on Streaming?

Photo: kron4
Photo: kron4

There are two. Last year 48 Hours devoted an episode to the case. “The Disappearance of Kristin Smart” is the 16th episode in Season 33. Out of the two available documentaries, it’s the most timely. In the special, a CBS News correspondent actually tracks down Flores almost six months before his arrest.

At the moment the only way to watch 48 Hours is on Paramount+. Plans start at $5.99 a month for a subscription with ads or $9.99 a month for an ad-free plan. But since the service comes with a one-week free trial, you can watch the episode now without paying anything.

Smart’s case was also mentioned in an Unsolved Mysteries episode. Season 9, Episode 1 covered everything from the Zodiac Killer and Andre Wilson to Smart’s case. It’s a brief mention, but if you’re curious about how Robert Stack presented the case, it’s there.

Though Unsolved Mysteries is available on several streaming services, Season 9 can only be found on Peacock. Plans start at $5.99 a month for Peacock Premium, a version with ads that includes access to all of the service’s content, or $9.99 a month for Peacock Premium Plus, an ad-free plan. Peacock also comes with a one-week free trial, 247newsaroundtheworld wrote.

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