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New Evidence Leads To Arrests In Kristin Smart's Murder Case

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY (CBS13) - Nearly 25 years after Stockton's Kristin Smart disappeared, authorities announced not one, but two arrests in the case.

Paul Flores is reportedly the last person to see the 19-year-old Cal Poly student alive. He's now facing murder charges and his father was also arrested today as an accessory to murder.

"It's my hope that we're able to take the first step toward justice for the smart family, and most especially for Kristin," said San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson at a press conference.

Authorities say they still have not found Smart's body, but new evidence and witnesses link Flores to her murder. They also credit a podcast for spurring the investigation.

Related: A Timeline In The Disappearance of Kristin Smart

CBS13's Renee Santos talked to Margarita, one of Kristin's friends, who was there the night Kristin was last seen and says all that matters right now is that Paul was arrested.

"It's been 24 years without a resolution, until today," said Sheriff Parkinson.

On the Cal Poly campus, where Kristin Smart was a student before she vanished 25 years ago, a big step towards justice was announced. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office arrested 44-year-old Paul Flores, who's accused of murder. During the nearly 25-year investigation, he became the prime suspect in the case.

According to investigators, Paul was the last one to see Kristin as she walked back to her dorm after an off-campus party. Paul's 80-year-old father, Ruben Flores, was also put in handcuffs, accused of being an accessory to murder.

Kristin's disappearance rocked the Stockton community where she's from. Today, neighbors near her family's home didn't want to go on camera but say the latest arrests are a big relief.

CBS' 48 Hours has covered Kristin's case throughout the years, at one point sitting down with Kristin's sister, who sat in awe while reminiscing about how great her sister was.

"She had traveled the world before she even made it to college --
by herself, which is pretty amazing," she said.

We spoke to the family spokesperson who tells CBS13 Kristin's parents aren't talking to the media and are asking for respect and privacy. A note outside their home also asked people to give them space, but they did share a long, heartfelt statement saying: "We honor Kristin today and those who worked with unparalleled tenacity and dedication to bring us this day. Without Kristin in our life, there will never be justice, but we will pray for peace."

And Kristin's remain still have not been found, but the sheriff did say that there are new developments that, he believes, will bring them closer to finding her.

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