Although Flores had always been a suspect, Parkinson said no arrests had been made because law enforcement can't arrest someone based on "what we might believe, it has to be based on physical evidence".
San Luis Obispo Sheriff uses a ground penetrating radar to search for the body of Kristen Smart in the backyard of Ruben Flores. Physical evidence was gathered in subsequent searches of the homes of Flores family members, including evidence found in March at Ruben Flores's home that was linked to Smart, according to the sheriff.
Smart was last seen Memorial Day weekend, leaving a house party at 135 Crandall Way near the Cal Poly campus at about 2 a.m. on May 25, 1996, with Paul Flores and a friend. Their cases have since been turned over to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office for review.
"On May 25, 1996, this was the last place that Kristin Smart was seen alive", Parkinson said during a news conference. "The knowledge that a father and son, despite our desperate pleas for help, could have withheld this awful secret for almost 25 years, denying us the chance to lay our daughter to rest, is an unrelenting and unforgiving pain".
The friend later told investigators that she left Smart with Flores at the intersection of Perimeter Road and Grand Avenue so that Smart could walk back to her Muir Hall dorm room.
Smart was legally presumed dead in 2002, and the case has continued to confound investigators.
Smart, a native of Stockton, was nearing the end of her freshman year at Cal Poly when she vanished on May 25, 1996, after attending an off-campus party.
In Feb. 2020, detectives served search warrants at the home of Paul Flores, as well as his sister, mother, and father.
Investigators executed another search warrant Tuesday at the home of Ruben Flores about 15 miles (24 kilometers) south of the university on California's Central Coast, KSBY-TV reported.
Search warrants were served a year ago on Paul Flores' home in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles and at other locations in California and Washington state. Smart's body, Parkinson said, has not been recovered, although search efforts continue. "We will be issuing a statement from the family this afternoon around 3:30 p.m".
The Smart family released a preliminary statement on Tuesday. That is, until Orcutt resident Chris Lambert launched his "Your Own Backyard" podcast examining the case and sparking new attention.
Back in 2016, Paul Flores was still being called a person of interest in the 20-year-old case, when authorities conducted several digs on the on the Cal Poly campus.
They served over 40 search warrants at 16 locations over the years and so much evidence was compiled that it would fill three terabytes on a computer hard drive, he said. Paul's father Ruben was also arrested on charges of accessory to murder.