Kristin Smart’s body was once buried in the backyard of the
Smart’s body, which still hasn’t been found after nearly 25 years, was allegedly recently moved from the home owned by Ruben Flores, authorities said in a court document filed on Monday.
Ruben Flores, 80, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of accessory after the murder for hiding Smart’s body after his son allegedly killed her in 1996 during an attempted rape in his California Polytechnic State University dorm room.
Paul, now 44, has pleaded not guilty to murder.
He was the last person seen with Smart, who witnesses say was drunk at the time, after he offered to walk her home after an off-campus party.
Kristin Smart’s body was once buried in the backyard of the California home owned by murder suspect Paul Flores’ father but was recently moved before investigators searched the property again, prosecutors allege
Paul and Ruben were both arrested last week and were arraigned on Monday.
The court document, which was filed prior to bail arguments and first reported by The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, alleges that investigators have biological evidence that proves Smart was once buried on Ruben’s property.
Kristin Smart was last seen on May 25, 1996, with Paul Flores while returning to her dorm at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo after an off-campus party
Investigators searched the home again last week following the arrests and could be seen dismantling a deck that leads underneath the house.
‘The excavation below his deck… showed damning evidence that a body had been buried in that location and then recently moved,’ prosecutor Christopher Peuvrelle said.
Peuvrelle, who said Ruben has helped cover up the crime for nearly a quarter century, argued that he would continue to do so if freed on bail.
‘Due to the evidence gleaned from the excavation, it is reasonable to believe Ruben Flores currently knows the location of Kristin Smart´s remains,’ Peuvrelle said.
‘Should he be allowed bail, it is a virtual certainty that he would use his freedom to continue his attempts to help Paul Flores thwart prosecution in this case and continue to hide her remains.’
Defense lawyers have criticized the evidence used to arrest both men last week.
Attorney Harold Mesick said Monday that the evidence against the father was ‘so minimal as to shock the conscience’.
Ruben Flores, 80, (right) has pleaded not guilty to a charge of accessory after the murder for hiding Smart’s body after his son allegedly killed her in 1996. Paul Flores (left), now 44, has pleaded not guilty to murder
Despite being a suspect from day one, investigators say they never had enough evidence to charge Paul Flores over Kristin Smart’s disappearance until Tuesday when he was taken into custody (above) on suspicion of murdering the 19-year-old
Smart’s remains still haven’t been found but authorities recently disclosed they believe they know where she was buried.
The arrests of the father and son came a month after investigators used ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs during a search for Smart’s remains at Ruben’s home.
They have not disclosed what was found during that search but returned to the yard to dismantle the deck after the arrests.
The defense attorney has questioned why investigators needed to keep searching for evidence after making arrests. At the time of the April 13 arrests, the sheriff said he believed that had enough evidence to win convictions.
Mesick argued there were many innocent explanations why soil had previously been dug up in the yard. He said a backhoe had excavated a trench to dump soil that was removed to lay a nearby foundation.
Paul Flores was ordered to be held without bail but his father’s bail amount is yet to be set.
The arrests last week followed significant developments in the case in recent years as new witnesses came forward, investigators monitored Paul’s cellphone and text messages, and searches were conducted at separate homes where Flores, his father, mother and sister live.
Investigators, who launched a renewed search last week at his father’s property (above) in nearby Arroyo Grande, believe they know where the body was buried but have not yet found it or publicly disclosed the location
The case dates back to May 25, 1996 when Smart was last seen returning to her dorm at the Cal Poly University campus at about 2am after an off-campus party.
A then-19-year-old Flores, who was a fellow freshman at the school, had offered to walk her home from the party.
The younger Flores, who has long been a suspect in Smart’s 1996 disappearance, was a former classmate and the last known person to see Smart the night she vanished. He has never been charged over her disappearance
Smart was not reported missing to the Cal Poly Police Department until three days after she was last seen.
Her dorm mate at the time said police were initially reluctant to take a missing persons report because it was Memorial Day weekend and she might have left the campus.
As the last person to see Smart alive, Flores was under suspicion from the start.
During the investigation, four different search dogs trained to pick up the smell of human remains led police to Flores’ dorm room. No evidence was ever found in Flores’ room.
Smart was officially declared dead in 2002.
Various search efforts have been carried out over the years, including the excavation of three different hillside locations near the campus in 2016.
Investigators served over 40 search warrants at 16 locations over the years, collected nearly 200 new items of evidence and used modern DNA techniques to test more than three dozen older pieces of evidence.
Flores has remained silent over the decades-long investigation.
He has previously invoked his Fifth Amendment right to not answer questions before a grand jury and in a deposition for a lawsuit that was brought against him in relation to the investigation.
Smart was officially declared dead in 2002 but her body has never been found