Paul Flores, Longtime Person of Interest in 1996 Kristin Smart Disappearance, Arrested for Murder

Paul and Ruben Flores were arrested Tuesday in connection with the 1996 disappearance of 19-year-old college student Kristin Smart.

Paul Flores, a longtime person of interest in the 1996 disappearance of 19-year-old Kristin Smart, was arrested Tuesday and booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail on a single count of murder. Paul's father, Ruben Flores, was also arrested on Tuesday morning and booked on a single charge of being an accessory after the fact.

Smart vanished after attending a fraternity party at Cal Poly 25 years ago. According to witnesses, Paul offered to walk Smart back to her dorm after the party and was the last person to see her.

For decades, he had been referred to as a “person of interest” in the case. But officials called him the “prime suspect” in Smart's disappearance for the first time last month, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.

The March 15 press release also announced that the sheriff’s office had served a search warrant at the home of Ruben Flores, who is Paul’s father. Cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar were used during the search, officials said.

Smart was presumed dead in 2002, but the case picked up steam at the beginning of last year, when authorities issued several search warrants in California and Washington state.

For years, authorities say Paul refused to cooperate with them. Smart’s family sued Paul in civil court. Smart’s mother, Denise, spoke to Inside Edition in 1999.

“The hardest thing about having a missing child is the pain never abates because the bottom line is, every person needs to know where their child is,” she said.

Paul Flores has long maintained his innocence, telling police he and Smart parted ways near his dorm on the night of her disappearance.

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