Investigators believe Kristin Smart's body was buried and 'recently' moved, court document says

After decades of investigation, police arrested a father and son in the missing persons case of Kristin Smart. Paul Flores has been charged with murder.

Posted: Apr 22, 2021 9:21 PM
Updated: Apr 22, 2021 9:21 PM

Investigators looking into the 1996 disappearance and killing of California college student Kristin Smart believe they have found evidence that her body was buried underneath a deck at the home of Ruben Flores, father of murder suspect Paul Flores, and "recently" moved, according to new documents filed in the case.

The court documents -- bail reduction reports filed by the prosecutor and obtained by the San Luis Obispo Tribune newspaper -- detail arguments against bail reduction and the release of both Paul Flores and his father.

The documents, which were published online and confirmed by the court to be authentic, were "inadvertently accessed" and "not supposed to be made public," Nikki Rodriguez, spokesperson for the San Luis Obispo Superior Court, told CNN.

Smart disappeared from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo nearly 25 years ago. Paul Flores, the last person to see Smart alive, has been charged with her murder, though her body was never recovered. Ruben Flores is charged with helping his son hide Smart's body after she was killed.

Both men pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of first-degree murder and accessory. They both had been held in jail since their arrests on the morning of April 13.

Paul Flores is being held without bail. Ruben Flores posted bail late Wednesday, according to his lawyer, Harold Mesick.

Earlier Wednesday, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen lowered Flores' bail from $250,000 to $50,000. Flores must surrender his passport, wear an electronic monitoring device, and stay within the county limits.

Paul Flores accused of being a 'serial rapist'

A sheriff's office detective in the case stated that investigators are "in possession of biological evidence that makes them believe the victim was buried underneath the defendant's deck at one time."

Prosecutors in the document also accused Paul Flores of being a "serial rapist," an accusation made public for the first time.

"Dozens of women have recounted Paul Flores' sexual assaults and predatory behavior that document his twenty-five years as a serial rapist," Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle wrote in the report.

Los Angeles Police Department officials confirmed last week Paul Flores is under investigation for sexual assaults in Los Angeles County and police have submitted two cases to the LA County District Attorney's Office.

Peuvrelle urged the court to keep Paul Flores in custody and warned that if he were to be released, "the Court would be putting a serial rapist back on the streets and leave him free to victimize additional women."

A judge ruled Monday that Paul Flores should remain held without bail.

Ruben Flores was initially being held in San Luis Obispo County Jail on $250,000 bail. Mesick requested a bail reduction, arguing the 80-year-old defendant posed no flight risk and is in poor health, having undergone triple bypass heart surgery and suffering from colitis and diabetes.

However, Peuvrelle argued in his report that "The excavation below his deck... showed damning evidence that a body had been buried in that location then recently moved."

The prosecutor noted it is reasonable to believe Ruben Flores knows where Smart's remains are, and ventured that if released on bail, Flores would "use his freedom to continue his attempts to help Paul Flores thwart the prosecution in this case and continue to hide her remains."

Smart's family also opposed a reduction in bail, calling Ruben Flores a "coward" and expressing fear that "his release on bail directly threatens the safety of our family."

None of the attorneys involved in the case would comment, citing a gag order.

"There is a protective order prohibiting our office from discussing the case publicly," San Luis Obispo Deputy DA Eric Dobroth told CNN Wednesday.

Robert Sanger, lawyer for Paul Flores had no comment, nor did Mesick, who previously called the evidence in the case "so minimal as to shock the conscience."

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