Paul Flores is convicted for murder after 26 years

CBS News

A podcast rekindled interest in the cold matter of Kristin Smart who was reported missing from her college campus in June 1996. A long-time suspect was found by a California jury in October 2022. Paul Flores guilty Her murder.

Kristin Smart, a college freshman aged 19, disappeared on Memorial Day weekend 1996 after she went to a party at California Polytechnic State University. 

“Your Own Backyard.”

CBS News

Kristin Smart vanished when Chris Lambert, 8 years old, went missing. Twenty-two year later, he released his podcast “Your Own Backyard” This podcast focused on her disappearance.  This podcast rekindled interest in the case. 

A worried mother

Carla Hoffman

Denise Smart received a call from Cal Poly’s campus cops two days after her daughter disappeared. They informed her Kristin hadn’t been seen for a while and asked if Kristin was still with them. 

Margarita Campos

Margarita Campos

Campus police believed Kristin Smart was having fun and ignored concerned friends like Margarita Campos who claimed she was missing. Kristin had been missing for four days before Cal Poly police began to investigate.

Kristina’s last visitor


Paul Flores took Kristin home from the party. He was the last person to see Kristin. Authorities waited six days before formal interviewing him.

What Happened at Saint Lucia Hall

CBS News

Paul Flores claimed Kristin went to his Santa Lucia Hall room alone after he returned from the party. However, four dogs reacted to Paul when a number of trained cadaver dog scouts were brought in to the Cal Poly dorm.

Victim shaming?

Carla Hoffman

Although authorities didn’t rush to investigate Paul Flores’ disappearance, the Smart family claims they were quick to judge Kristin. Campus police filed an incident report just days after she disappeared.

Smart doesn’t have any friends at Cal Poly. Smart seemed to be under the influence on Friday night. Smart was chatting with and socializing at the party with several males.

A black eye

James Murphy

Paul Flores was arrested for a DUI warrant two days after Kristin disappeared.

His black eye can be seen in his mugshot. Flores gave three different stories when asked how he got the injuries.

A bad reputation

David Middlecamp/The Tribune/Zuma Press

Paul Flores was well-known among the Cal Poly girls who knew him. He was well-known for his groping skills and was nicknamed “Chester, the molester.” 


James Murphy

Kristin’s parents were frustrated and hired an attorney to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against Paul Flores. Flores kept quiet in 1997, when he was deposed by police for the civil suit. Flores would not confirm his name on tape.  He invoked the Fifth Amendment 27 more times

An earring gone missing

Carla Hoffman

Mary Lassiter was living in Arroyo Grande with Paul Flores’ mother when she came across an earring belonging to a single woman. According to her, the jewelry was identical to a necklace Kristin was wearing in one the missing posters. The earring, which was originally marked evidence, was given to a detective.

What’s in the Backyard?

CBS News

The backyard of Susan Flores was the subject of much speculation. Police did not immediately search Kristin’s home when she disappeared. Despite the fact that the backyard was searched three times in the last two decades, no evidence has been found.

A new sheriff has been elected

CBS News

In 2011, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson, was sworn in to office. He promised the Smarts that Kristin’s matter would be a priority. The department has executed 23 search warrants and 96 interviews since Parkinson took over. They have also collected 258 pieces additional evidence. 

Two decades later

CBS News

Paul Flores, the only suspect in Kristin’s disappearance, has been around for more than 20 years. Jonathan Vigliotti, CBS News correspondent, tracked Flores down in order to discover what happened to Kristin Smart.

New evidence emerges


Officials conducted a search at the site in March 2021 Ruben Flores’ home. Under a deck in the yard was biological evidence

Taken into custody

San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office

Paul and his father, Paul, were married April 2021. Ruben Flores They were taken into custody Paul was charged for murder, while Ruben was charged as an accessory to the crime. 

Pleading not guilty

Superior Court/Zoom San Luis Obispo County

Father and son pleaded not guilty to their charges in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court, less than a week after they were arrested. Paul Flores (lower left) remained in jail without bail. Ruben Flores (upper right) was able to post bail after the judge reduced the bail amount from $250,000 down to $50,000.

The wheels of justice start to turn

Daniel Dreifuss/Monterey County Weekly

Opening statements in the trial of Paul (pictured) and Ruben Flowers in Monterey County Superior Court begin more than 26 years after Kristin’s disappearance. There were two juries present, one for each defendant.

The split verdicts

CBS News

After a three-month trial a jury was formed. convicted Paul Flores Kristin Smart’s murder. Ruben Flores was not found guilty of being an accomplice after the fact. Stan Smart, Kristin’s father, addressed the media shortly afterward. He stated that without Kristin, there would be no joy or happiness in the verdict. After 26 years… We have learned that our pursuit of justice for Kristin is not over. 

Kristin Smart’s legacy

Carla Hoffman

The Smarts are committed to keeping their daughter’s memory alive through the Smarts. Kristin Smart scholarship. Its mission is to support young women in pursuing their dreams and achieving the same impact on the world as Kristin hoped. 

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