Cold case investigators have served the second search warrant this year at the California home a “person of interest,” recovering “some items of interest” in the 1996 disappearance of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student Kristin Smart.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student Kristin Denise Smart, from Stockton, California, was 19 years old when she disappeared in 1996 while returning from an off-campus birthday party. Around 2 AM on May 25, which occurred over Memorial Day weekend, Kristin was found passed out on the neighbor’s lawn by two fellow students, who had also just left the party.
They helped Kristin to her feet and began to escort her back to her hall of residence. Along the way, another student, Paul Flores, offered to join the pair in helping to return Smart safely to her dorm room.
However, along the way, the trio began to disband. Ultimately, Flores was left alone to walk Flores back to her dorm room, since he lived closer. According to police, Flores stated he only walked Smart as far as his dormitory, allowing her to walk the rest of the way to her dorm by herself.
The body of Kristin Smart has never been found. She was declared legally dead in 2002.
As the last person to see Kristin Smart alive, Paul Flores has always been a “person of interest.” However, he has never been arrested or charged in the case.
In February, investigators served search warrants on four locations in California and Washington, with the home of Paul Flores and San Pedro being one of them. Even though the search warrants were sealed by the court, sources told the Los Angeles Times that investigators were looking for DNA and other physical evidence.
On Wednesday, April 22, 2020, investigators returned to the San Pedro home of Paul Flores to issue the second search warrant it has served at his residence this year. The search warrant states it is looking “for specific items of evidence” at the home, according to a press release.
Authorities could not provide any additional information about the search because it is sealed by the court.
Tony Cipolla, a spokesperson for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office, made a statement about items recovered from the home of Paul Flores and a search that lasted roughly 3-1/2 hours according to authorities.
“The search is now concluded and we recovered some items of interest in the case,” Cipolla said. “We are following up on leads, tips, and good investigative work.”
According to one report, six months before the disappearance of Kristin Smart, the main person of interest in the case, Paul Flores, was stopped and questioned in an off-campus incident. In December 1995, the San Luis Obispo police apprehended Flores and questioned him under the suspicion that he climbed the balcony of a coed’s off-campus apartment.
Police suspected he was either attempting to break in or was acting as a Peeping Tom. According to the report, Flores appeared to be intoxicated. However, apparently, the San Luis Obispo Police Department did not notify the Cal poly Police Department of the incident.
According to the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office, since 2001, it has continued to look for additional clues, serving 19 search warrants, recovered 140 new items of evidence, submitted 37 items of older evidence for modern DNA testing, and interviewed 91 people in the last two decades.