Kristin Smart case: Deputies search family home of Paul Flores after he is named 'prime suspect'
ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. - A search warrant was served Monday at the Arroyo Grande family home of Paul Flores, a former classmate of Kristin Smart, who, for the first time, was called the "prime suspect" in her 1996 disappearance.
Shortly before 8 a.m., the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office announced that they were serving a search warrant at the home of Ruben Flores, Paul's father, located in the 700 block of White Ct. in Arroyo Grande.
The sheriff’s office was authorized to utilize cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar (GPR) during the course of the search, which they said could take up to two days to complete.
Kristin Smart is shown in a file image.
Investigators Monday officially called Flores the "prime suspect" in Smart's disappearance, having previously been called a longtime person-of-interest.
The Smart family released a statement Monday following news of the newly served warrant, saying they are "Encouraged by the news of today’s search of Ruben Flores’ property."
"We appreciate the vigilance and professionalism of Sheriff Ian Parkinson and his department and our family looks forward to learning more in the hours and days ahead," the statement continued.
• FBI tells family of Kristin Smart, who vanished 23 years ago, to be prepared for news: report
• Break in the Cal Poly Kristin Smart case? Sheriff seizes trucks
• Authorities issue new search warrants in Kristin Smart case
• Kristin Smart case: Search warrant served at LA County home of former classmate Paul Flores
Smart was last seen in the early morning of May 25, 1996, while returning to her dorm at California Polytechnic State University after a party near the campus. She was 19-years-old when she vanished.
Flores reportedly told authorities he left Smart near her dormitory after they and another female student walked back.
According to reports at the time, a neighbor in Smart’s dorm called university police the next morning and reported that she hadn’t returned. But other students said they thought she had gone camping, so officers didn’t declare her missing for three days.
A file image shows a missing person sign for Kristin Smart, who went missing on May 25, 1996 while attending California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. (FOX 11)
While her body has never been found, Smart was declared legally dead in 2002.
A California law, the Kristin Smart Campus Safety Act of 1998, now requires campus police to spell out exactly when they will call in outside authorities to investigate a violent crime.
Get your top stories delivered daily! Sign up for FOX 11’s Fast 5 newsletter. And, get breaking news alerts in the FOX 11 News app. Download for iOS or Android.