SAN PEDRO, Calif. — A man named Paul Flores was taken into custody Tuesday morning in San Pedro, California, in connection with the disappearance and murder of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart.
During a press conference, Sheriff Ian Parkinson said Paul Flores was booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail just after noon Tuesday on a single charge of murder.
Sheriff Parkinson said Flores would possibly be arraigned on Thursday.
Paul's father, Ruben Flores, was also taken into custody at around the same time at his home in Arroyo Grande, California.
He was booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail shortly after 9:30 a.m. on a single charge of being an accessory after the fact.
Sheriff Parkinson said his bail had been set at $250,000.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's officials also served another search warrant at the Arroyo Grande property Tuesday morning.
KSBY reached out to Paul Flores's attorney, Robert Sanger. He told the TV station that he does not comment on pending cases.
Smart was a freshman at Cal Poly when she disappeared back in 1996. According to witnesses, she was last seen with fellow student Paul Flores after leaving an off-campus fraternity party in San Luis Obispo and walking back to her dorm.
Early on in the investigation, Flores was identified as a person of interest in Smart’s disappearance. For the first time just last month, sheriff’s officials referred to him as the “prime suspect” in the case.
That revelation came as sheriff’s investigators served a search warrant at the Arroyo Grande home of Flores’s father, Ruben Flores. At around 7:45 a.m. on Tuesday, multiple unmarked law enforcement vehicles were again spotted outside Ruben's home. Officials at the scene told KSBY they are serving another search warrant.
Detectives spent two days, March 15 and 16, searching the property on White Court using cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar and digging in several spots outside the house. They also hauled away an old Volkswagen.
Sheriff Parkinson said during the press conference on Tuesday that law enforcement found physical evidence at two homes. Sheriff Parkinson would not disclose what evidence found nor which two homes the evidence was found at.
It was the third search targeting Paul Flores and his family in just over a year. In February 2020, his parents' and sister’s homes were searched on the same day detectives searched Paul’s home in San Pedro. Digital devices were reportedly seized. In April 2020, the San Pedro property was searched a second time.
In February of this year, Paul was arrested on a weapons charge that sheriff’s officials said resulted from information obtained during the 2020 searches.
May 25, 2021, marks 25 years since Kristin’s disappearance. While her body has never been found, she was declared legally dead on May 25, 2002. She would have been 44 years old this past February.
Sheriff Parkinson said Kristin's body has yet to be found, but investigators will now pivot the investigation to search for remains.
This story was originally published by staff at KSBY.