In San Luis Obispo, District Attorney Dan Dow addressed reporters on Wednesday on the widening investigation into Paul Flores, a man who for decades had been the prime suspect in the disappearance of freshman Cal Poly student Kristin Smart.
Smart vanished on May 25, 1996, while walking back from an off-campus party. Flores had offered to walk her home.
On Wednesday, the chief prosecutor announced Flores would be charged with first-degree murder in Smart’s disappearance. And then, Dow dropped a bombshell. He alleged Smart had been killed by Flores during an attempted rape in his dorm room.
He called Flores’ dorm room a "crime scene." Dow also claimed Flores may have gone on to sexually assault more women in Southern California. The prosecutor asked any women who may have been sexually assaulted by Flores to come forward saying, "Flores frequented bars in San Pedro" since 2005.
Also charged on Wednesday was Flores’ father. The prosecutor said 80-year-old Ruben Flores, of Arroyo Grande, was charged as an accessory because investigators believed the elder Flores helped his son dispose of the body.
Kristen Smart’s remains have never been found.
On Tuesday morning, 44-year-old Paul Flores was arrested in front of his home on Upland Avenue in San Pedro wearing what looked like pajama bottoms and a t-shirt.
Neighbors snapped images on their cell phones and ring camera footage showed Flores flanked by sheriff’s deputies in handcuffs. Time and the law had finally caught up with him. He looked like a middle-aged man.
One neighbor told me in all the time he lived there, the only person who visited Paul Flores was his mother and that she was glad he was gone. Meantime, up the Central Coast at the very same time, investigators renewed their search on Ruben Flores’ rural Arroyo Grande property.
Prosecutors believe they know where Kristin Smart is buried. They vowed to continue to search until they find her remains so her family can have some peace.
The ice-cold trail of the coldest of cases has triggered feverish interest in California and around the world. Armchair sleuths, and in particular a podcaster, have kept the case in the spotlight despite the passage of time. On Tuesday, the SLO County Sheriff showered the podcast — Chris Lambert’s Your Own Backyard — with praise saying it had helped steer the investigation toward some new potential witnesses.
RELATED: Kristin Smart: Podcaster credited for helping crack cold case, leading to arrest
And speaking of possible new witnesses, at the time of the publication of this article, another investigation had begun. As many as three new sexual assault accusations against Paul Flores in Southern California had come to light.
The LAPD confirmed three new cases against Paul Flores were being investigated by the LA County DA’s Office. Local prosecutors will decide if there’s sufficient evidence to file. If so, these cases could help SLO prosecutors make their murder case; which could be a steep climb unless Kristin Smart’s remains are located.