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Investigators in Kristin Smart case serve search warrant at the home of the prime suspect's father

Police speak after two men have been arrested in connection with the disappearance of Kristin Smart, the California college student who vanished in 1996.

Posted: Apr 14, 2021 8:31 PM
Updated: Apr 14, 2021 8:31 PM

Investigators in the case of Kristin Smart, the college student missing since 1996, served a search warrant at the home of the prime suspect's father, officials said Monday.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office on Monday announced it served a search warrant at the Arroyo Grande home of Ruben Flores, the father of Paul Flores, who has been the prime suspect in the case for years. Officials say Paul Flores was the last person to see Smart on May 25, 1996.

The warrant was served at 7:30 a.m. and the search could take up to two days to complete, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office said.

Officials said they are authorized to "utilize cadaver dogs and ground penetrating radar (GPR) during the course of the search."

The warrant has been sealed and the investigation is ongoing. Because the investigation is ongoing, the sheriff's office did not make any further comment.

Smart's family said they are "encouraged by the news of today's search."

"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," Smart's family said in statement to the press.

Harold Mesick, Ruben Flores' lawyer, told CNN that he doesn't think officials will find anything.

"I believe this is just more of the ongoing harassment of my client's family," Mesick said.

Paul Flores' attorney, Robert Sanger, told CNN he does not comment on pending matters.

Smart was a 19-year-old freshman when she disappeared in 1996. She was last seen near her Cal Polytechnic San Luis Obispo dorm, police said, after walking home from a party.

A massive search and repeated interviews with a student who walked with her that night yielded no breaks, and Smart was declared dead in 2002.

Smart's disappearance attracted public interest after a podcast called "Your Own Backyard," which looked into the disappearance, gained popularity in 2019.

Last year, investigators did a search in Paul Flores' home, and said they found "items of interest" on the property.

"We recovered some items of interest in the case," Tony Cipolla, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office, told CNN at the time. "We are following up on leads, tips and good investigative work."

At that time, Flores was detained at his San Pedro, California, home and released back to his home after the search, Cipolla said.

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