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The Disappearance of Kristin Smart

October 30, 2022

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A college student attends a party and is never seen again.  A fellow student is long suspected of her murder. 26 years later – a jury speaks. "48 Hours" contributor Jonathan Vigliotti reports. 

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19-year-old Kristen Smart disappeared on Memorial Day weekend of 1996.

For more than two decades, her family, friends, and supporters searched for answers and for justice.

In October 2022, the man long suspected in her disappearance was found guilty of murder.

His father, charged with being an accessory after the fact, was found not guilty.

We take you back to their arrest and how the saga began.

It's a landmark day in this very high-profile, Cajun-disappearance of Kristen Smart.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office is said to release details about the latest developments in it.

Today is a day that many had hoped for, wished for, and prayed for.

This is where it all began on the campus of Cal Poly University, the last place that Kristen Smart was seen alive.

It's my hope that we're able to take the first step toward justice for the smart family.

I grew up not far from where Kristen disappeared.

The billboard in Arroyo Grande is visible. It's got Kristen's photo on it.

Driving past that billboard was a periodic reminder that, oh yeah, they still haven't found that girl.

I'm Chris Lambert. I created the podcast Your Own Backyard, which focused on the disappearance of Kristen Smart.

Investigators say Smart and two other students left the party that night and walked back to their on-campus dormant court buildings.

We're here surrounded by dorms, and yet nobody saw anything.

It was a very dead holiday weekend. A lot of people had gone home in the amount of time that they were alone and whatever happened that her life ended.

I think there was plenty of opportunity to hide her body without anybody noticing.

My sister turned 19 in February. She disappeared in May.

When she disappeared, I was about to graduate eighth grade.

But my parents did a really good job of shielding us.

Stan and Denise, they're wonderful parents.

A very large group of friends went down to Cal Poly to help search for her.

A stan was there. Denise stayed back, and I stayed back with her.

In case Kristen came home, never would have dreamed in a million years that she would not return. And Cal Poly is a safe place. You do not think of this happening.

This is one of my favorites of her with this great smile that she has.

I just love that. It's just to me that captures her.

Remember her wanting to travel the world and be an architect?

I really miss her. She should be here.

Originally when we first took the case, I was determined I would be able to find her in six months. If you've ever been on one of these searches, you walk up a canyon here in San Luis Obispo County, and then there's another canyon off that. And you get to the end of that when there's another canyon. There's billions of places to hide a body.

It's important to explain here that Kristen's case has never been declared cold.

A case is only considered cold when law enforcement decides that they've exhausted all of their leads.

But what makes it interesting to me is that they've had a suspect since pretty much day one.

Hi Paul. Good morning. I'm Jonathan Vigliotti with CBS News.

Were you involved in the disappearance of Kristen Smart?

Paul, can you tell us what happened that night between you and Kristen?

It's important that there's an arrest made. You've got to move and you've got to do it now.

I'm here this afternoon to announce the rest of Paul Flores for the murder of Kristen Smart.

After almost 25 years of suspicion, on April 13, 2021, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson announced the arrest of Paul Flores in the disappearance of Kristen Smart. It's been a puzzle and it's a very slow process to find each of those little pieces. Some of that information came to light through the podcast that many of you are familiar with. In the crowd, taking it all in was that podcaster, Chris Lambert. It's hard to take too much credit, but I was one piece of the puzzle that helped to make this all come together when it did. Lambert was just eight years old when Kristen Smart vanished on her way home from a college party in San Luis Obispo, California.

I remember seeing it on the news. Kristen is a freshman at Cal Poly, but hasn't been to class since before the memorial day. And Kristen Smart left a party on the Cal Poly campus.

It was something scary and they were talking about it pretty regularly.

But 22 years later, when he couldn't find any recent stories about the case, he decided to do something.

It's a cold and cloudy winter afternoon in San Luis Obispo, and I'm retracing missing Cal Poly student Kristen Smart's last known steps.

Even though he'd never investigated anything before, Lambert quit his job to create a podcast.

At least once a day, I asked myself, what are you doing?

Lambert began looking into what happened to Kristen, collecting articles and documents, chasing down leads, and tracking down anyone with information.

I didn't know the scale. I didn't know how many people were going to listen, but I knew that I could try to do a small part.

I googled Kristen Smart's name every few years.

He never expected it would be a hit, but his podcast caught the attention of millions of listeners and sparked new interest in this decades old unsolved case.

Back in May 1996, Kristen Smart was finishing her freshman year at California Polytechnic State University, better known as Cal Poly. Her younger sister, Lindsay, says their mother urged Kristen to go there. You should go to Cal Poly. They're known for being a really safe school.

And it was only 250 miles from Stockton, California, where she grew up with Lindsay and their brother Matt. Her parents, Denise and Stan, were both educators who encouraged their kids' passions. She was who she was because of her parents, for sure.

Ann Marie Christian became friends with Kristen in elementary school.

Her parents reminded me of my parents. They were very involved with their children.

A very close knit family. Kristen loved swimming and skiing, but Lindsay says her sister was happiest when she was traveling. She had traveled the world before she even made it to college by herself, which is pretty amazing. She spent a summer in London, was an exchange student in Venezuela and a lifeguard at a camp in Hawaii. She definitely took advantage of life, seized the day. She was super ambitious and was determined to find the next adventure, to find the next challenge. That turned out to be college. Like so many freshmen, Kristen struggled.

Classes were difficult. She was trying to fit in and she missed her family.

Kristen broke down, begging her mother to let her drop out and go somewhere else.

But every Sunday when she called her parents, they encouraged her to stick it out.

Long time family friend Denise Pierce. Things were going to get better and, you know, and they did.

Friday, May 24th, 1996 was the start of the Memorial Day weekend. Most students had taken off, but Kristen had stayed on campus. So had Margarita Campos, who lived in the next room in your hall.

They had become close friends, despite their differences. I was a little bit more introverted and inhibited and she was like, no, we have to go out and we have to like live life. And she was growing as an individual. She was pushing herself out of her comfort zone. And I was like, no.

So when they were invited to a party that Friday night, Kristen was excited to go.

Kristen was like, come on, let's go, let's go. And I was like, I have to study.

And so she pulled me into this sort of like, oh, come on, let's socialize. And these girls are inviting us out. Let's go. And I was like, okay, fine. But when we got to the house, it was pretty dead. It was a really it was like a couple of roommates hanging out playing video games.

And Kristen was like, oh, gosh, there has to be something better than this.

The two girls walked to an area off campus where there were fraternities, sororities and residential housing for students.

Margarita soon decided she'd had enough. You wanted to go home and you were trying to find the way to break it to your friend. That's exactly right. They got to the parking lot of this apartment complex. I was like, Kristen, I'm going to go back home. I'm going to go back to the dorms.

You can go. And she's like, please come with me. Please come with me. I told her I didn't want to go.

Kristen did not have a purse, money, her ID, or even her keys. So before leaving, Margarita handed over her keys to get back into Muir Hall. She was absolutely sober when I left her.

I'll never forget her shadow against the building, this apartment complex, just standing like kind of cross arm with a long leg. And she was just kind of like looking at me like, you're really walking away now. Like you're really, you're leaving.

The next morning, Margarita waited to hear from Kristen. I was expecting her to knock on my door and be like, oh, Margarita, you missed a rager. And here's your key.

I knocked on her door and I thought she was just sleeping or she went out and about, you know.

It wasn't until Kristen's roommate returned to their dorm room that Margarita realized Kristen never came home. How did you know she hadn't been back? Nothing had moved.

All of Kristen's personal belongings, including her purse, her money, her ID, were in the room exactly where she had left them.

I mean, she was gone. She was gone.

By the time they called the Cal Poly Campus Police, Kristen had been missing for more than 48 hours.

But Margarita says the police did not seem concerned.

The campus police, they were like, are you sure she didn't go out of town?

It's like she has nothing on her. How could she have gone out of town?

They thought she was off possibly having fun.

Oh, yeah.

But they could not have been more wrong.

To this day, I was like, why did I just let her go by herself?

I didn't have guilt about that.

But you have to understand she's a really independent, free spirit.

The classic literature.

I remember on my 10th birthday, I think it was, we were going to go mini golfing and I insisted, but we had to stay home for wishbone first.

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By the way, amazing job flossing. Your dentist is going to be so proud.

Listen to the Late Show Pod Show with Stephen Colbert on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Kristin's mother, Denise Smart, spent Memorial Day weekend at a swimming with her two younger kids.

She was looking forward to hearing from Kristin that Sunday.

And that phone call never comes. The phone call never comes.

Instead, on Monday, May 27th, Denise Peer says the smarts got a call from Cal Poly's campus police, asking if Kristin was with them.

Kristin hasn't come home and we're not sure where she is. We don't know anything.

That's when Denise Smart learned her daughter had not been seen all weekend and all her belongings were still in her dorm room.

She was becoming more and more alarm. She was frantic. I don't understand this, you know, what's going on. It is every parent's worst nightmare.

The smarts say they tried to file a missing persons report with the local police, but were told it was too early. And the FBI told them Cal Poly police were in charge.

But as Chris Lambert learned, the campus police did not act right away.

At that point, I don't think they had ever dealt with a missing person, a possibly murdered person.

By the time the Cal Poly police began investigating, Kristin had been gone for four days.

As they soon learned, she had ended up at a party at this house.

It's mostly frat guys from the Kappa Kai fraternity. I don't know if Kristin knew anybody there.

Chris Lambert, who worked as a CBS News consultant, pieced together what he learned from people who were there that night.

Kristin became incredibly intoxicated, whether she was drugged or whether she just had a lot to drink in a short amount of time. She ends up passed out on the lawn next door.

Lambert says Kristin could not stand on her own. So fellow student Cheryl Anderson, who was also at the party, began helping her back to campus.

They were soon joined by another party goer, Paul Flores.

As they describe it, Paul Flores just sort of appears out of nowhere and offers to help.

He gets his arm around her torso and her arm around his neck and he's helping her walk.

Paul keeps stopping along the way and letting Cheryl Anderson know, you can go on ahead. I've got her. It's fine.

She didn't think that was okay. So she slowed down and walked with them.

When they reached the turnoff to Cheryl's dorm, she says Flores tried to hug and kiss her.

She left them only after he promised to take Kristin back to her dorm.

I don't think she ever imagined that Kristin would end up dead by the end of the night.

Paul and Kristin then make their way here. What happens next?

So if you believe Paul's story, he goes into his dorm room here and he leaves her to walk up this walkway. Her dorm entrance is right over here. I personally think that wherever Kristin went, Paul was there with her. I don't think that she went back to her dorm at all.

Whatever happened in those early hours, one thing is indisputable.

Kristin Smart has never been seen again.

She had just 40 yards to go and yet she vanished. That's the upsetting part about it, isn't it?

The investigation seemed to be hampered from the start by a series of missteps by campus police, beginning with their assumption that Kristin was off having fun and ignoring worried friends who said she was missing. So much was lost in those first few days where if that very first phone call was taken seriously, answers might have been uncovered the first week.

They also did not focus on Paul Flores immediately, waiting six days to formally interview him.

Even worse, they never sealed his dorm room. There was a lot of evidence that could have been gathered. That wasn't. Why? I wish I knew why. They did an interview with the Cal Poly Mustang Daily and explained that they didn't think there was any evidence that a crime had taken place.

By the time they inspected Flores's room, Kristin had been gone for 16 days. School was over. So campus police found an empty room that had been sanitized by the university's cleaning crew.

Any evidence that might have been there was long gone. The investigation was completely botched by the campus police. There's no question about it. And while they did not rush to investigate Flores, Kristin's family says campus police were very quick to judge her. Just days after she disappeared, an incident report seemed to imply that Kristin's behavior contributed to her disappearance.

There was a lot of focus on how Kristin was drinking. What sounded a lot like victim shaming?

Right. 100% that was happening. The report said, smart does not have any close friends at Cal Poly.

Smart appeared to be under the influence of alcohol on Friday night. Smart was talking with and socializing with several different males at the party. But while campus police weren't doing much, Kristin's parents were doing whatever they could to find their daughter. Kristin's father would come down and hike every trail he could find on the central coast. He'd go anywhere. He'd go through tunnels under bridges looking for his daughter and expecting best case scenario he's going to find her body, which is awful for a parent. Early on, a small group of volunteers also looked for Kristin, but a massive search did not happen until she'd been gone for more than a month.

That's when the campus police finally handed the investigation over to the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's office. But they did not find Kristin.

Four months after that feudal search, Paul Flores was brought before a grand jury. Little is known since the proceedings are kept secret, but no charges were ever filed. Just weeks later, Kristin's frustrated parents contacted James Murphy, a local civil attorney.

It was just a sad phone call to have somebody say, our daughter disappeared and we think she's the victim of foul play and we'd like to pursue the guy that we think is responsible. Murphy and his wife, Garen Sinclair, agreed to take the case pro bono, promising to go after Paul Flores and put pressure on the sheriff's office. Murphy immediately filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Flores in civil court. And it says wrongful death and then I put murder. Putting murder on the lawsuit was sending a message to Paul Flores and his family that we believe that he killed Kristin and that we're coming for him. But trying to get him hasn't been easy. It just amazes me the amount of evidence that's available yet nothing has happened. The day after my sister disappeared, Paul Flores had a black eye and scratches on him.

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That's what you screamed. I have kids. I have kids. And it worked. There were some individuals in the crowd that assisted me. For more from this week's conversation, follow the takeout with Major Garrett on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. You look at Kristen Smart every day.

Every day. The smarts attorney James Murphy and his wife and office manager, Garen Sinclair, have had Kristen's billboard in their front yard since late 1997. It's just a motivator for me.

I will go outside at nighttime and I'll look up at the full moon and I'll think that that kid's buried somewhere real close. Murphy and Sinclair promised the smarts the billboard will stay until their daughter is found. I'd love to do anything to end their suffering. And that weighs on you.

Yep. Is there any doubt in your mind that Paul Flores is responsible for the disappearance of Kristen Smart? No. No. And Murphy and Sinclair believe they can prove it. They were not able to proceed with the civil case while there was an ongoing criminal investigation. But that did not stop them from following every lead and preparing for an eventual trial. There has been no other suspect. Every piece of evidence points directly at Paul Flores. Like his black eye, you can see it faintly in this mug shot taken by the Arroyo Grande police just by chance, two days after Kristen vanished. At the time, they did not know about a missing college student. They were after Paul Flores for an outstanding DUI warrant. Having a black eye doesn't make you guilty of anything.

But if the person you were with disappeared from the planet, that's physical evidence.

Chris Lambert says two days after that, when Flores was interviewed by campus police, they asked how he got his black eye, as well as scratches on his hands and knees. He says he got a black eye playing basketball with his friends. But one of those friends told police Flores already had the black eye when he arrived. He told those friends he just woke up with the black eye.

When authorities later confronted him with the two stories, Flores admitted lying and offered a new explanation. He actually hit his eye on a steering wheel in the middle of the night while changing his stereo. So now you've got three different stories about how he got that black eye. He lied to the police about everything. Flores claimed after walking Kristen back from the party, he went to his room in Santa Lucia Hall while she walked alone to her dorm. But cadaver dogs told a different story. Just days after taking over the investigation, the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office brought several dogs, like these, trained to detect human remains to the Cal Poly dorms. They brought in the first dog and they had the dog go through the dorms. There was no reaction until the dog reached Paul Flores' room. They let the dog in, the dog makes a beeline to the bed of Paul Flores. Remember, Flores' room had been emptied and thoroughly cleaned. But remarkably, the same thing happened with three more dogs.

That suggests that something bad happened in Paul Flores' dorm room.

The Sheriff's Office still wasn't convinced they had enough evidence against Flores.

But Murphy says there were other incidents that should have raised alarm bells about him with law enforcement from the very beginning. Paul Flores had a reputation amongst the girls that knew him at Cal Poly as being a creeper, that he was always trying to hit on women.

In fact, Cheryl Anderson, who trusted Flores to walk Kristen back to her dorm alone, told police that her friends called him Chester the molester because he was known for groping girls.

So with Cheryl's account alone, we have an unsettling picture of Paul.

Just five months before Kristen disappeared, San Luis Obispo police received a call from a student living off campus. There was a man climbing her trellis and trying to get inside her balcony, very intoxicated and refusing to leave when they showed up it was Paul Flores.

No charges were filed, but Lambert discovered Flores' troubles started at a young age.

In high school, he was known as a loner. Chris Lambert spoke with some women who knew Flores back then. They asked him not to use their names. Well, his nickname was Scary Paul.

You wouldn't want to be alone in a room with them. You wouldn't let any of your friends be drunk around him. Those were kind of unspoken things. And they told Lambert they weren't surprised when they heard about Flores' connection to Kristen's disappearance. I wasn't surprised, but there's also that shock value of kind of, oh my God, I knew it. Although suspicion surrounded Flores almost from the beginning, any hopes for an arrest were dashed in May 1997, when then Sheriff Ed Williams made an admission to the San Luis Obispo Telegraph. Quote, we need Paul Flores to tell us what happened to Kristen Smart. So absent something from Mr. Flores, I don't see us completing this case. How significant was that? I think that might have been the biggest misstep that investigators have made to this day, to declare to the public, if you stay quiet, you will get away with this. And six months later, when Flores was deposed by James Murphy for the Smart's civil suit, he kept quiet. Would you state your full name for the record, please?

Paul Rubin Flores. The only thing he would confirm on tape is that his name is Paul Flores.

What is your present residence address? On the advice of my attorney, I refuse to answer that question based on the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Everything else he took the Fifth Amendment. He wouldn't answer a single thing. In May of 96, were you a student at Cal Poly? On the advice of my attorney, he invoked the Fifth 27 times. What is the name of your father? On the advice of my attorney. And it worked. You just don't talk and you get away with it.

Flores wasn't talking, but was there evidence possibly placing Kristen Smart at his mother's home? Somebody found an earring that they say was Kristen Smart's jewelry in the driveway. An earring that appeared to match the necklace Kristen is wearing on this billboard.

What do you think was the biggest misstep in the initial investigation?

See more photos from the case on Facebook at 48 hours.

When Kristen Smart disappeared, Paul Flores' parents, Susan and Rubin, were separated and living apart. Four months later, while attempting to reconcile, Susan rented out her house in a royal grande. A young couple moves into it with their kid. The mother is washing her car in the driveway at one point. Something shiny catches her eye next to the front driver's side tire. A single woman's earring. That mother, Mary Lasseter, described it to Chris Lambert. It was like a red thing and it was like a smudge, like fingerprinted look on the back. Just red, like maroon, like old looking.

And the smudge that it was like a half a fingerprint. It was turned over to a detective with the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office. But Garance and Claire says the smarts never knew it existed until the Lasseters were deposed in January 1997. He never once turned to the smart family and said, hey, we have an earring. We'd like to show it to you to see if it matches any of your daughter's jewelry. The smarts then demanded to see it. And that's when they're told that earring has been misplaced. Misplaced. It was never marked as evidence apparently. But Mary Lasseter says the earring matched the necklace Kristen is seen wearing on this billboard. If it was in fact a piece of jewelry that matched Kristen's jewelry, it would have been blockbuster evidence. And might have connected Kristen to Susan Flores' house, says James Murphy. There's no way to get evidence back once you've lost it. Another frustration for the smarts at the time Kristen disappeared, investigators weren't aware that Paul Flores' parents were separated and living apart. So they did not immediately get a warrant to search Susan Flores' home. Even more difficult to understand was why they waited two months to search this house, the family home where Paul Flores was living with his father Ruben. And when they did... They didn't bring cadaver dogs with them. They didn't bring a forensics team. They didn't look at the Flores family's vehicles. They might have found evidence in those vehicles. Paul Flores did not have a car on campus, so Murphy surmises he had to have had help. And it's 2.30 and 3 o'clock in the morning at Cal Poly. This is not a location from which Paul alone could easily move a body without a vehicle. But further investigation of the Flores' two trucks seemed impossible. And the months after Kristen's disappearance, one truck was traded in. The other was reported stolen. But it's Susan Flores' concrete backyard that initially received a lot of attention. It had been the focus of widespread speculation for more than two decades, especially her planter boxes. Around the time Kristen disappeared, they cut out planter boxes in the backyard. So they cut out big chunks of concrete and filled it in with soil. In one of Paul's police interviews, he mentioned that he wanted to be let out of the interview because he needed to help clean up concrete at his mom's house. So what was being done in Susan Flores' backyard in the weeks after Kristen went missing?

Susan's house was finally searched in March 1997, nine months after Kristen disappeared.

But nothing was found. It would be three more years before the property was searched again.

At 8 a.m. on June 19, 2000, a team of sheriff's investigators knocks on the front door of Susan Flores' East Branch Street home. With them is a group of FBI evidence response team members and a search warrant. That warrant allowed them to dig up the backyard, but deputies chose not to excavate. Denise Pierce says that was a crushing blow for the smart family. To be almost there to think that, you know, you're gonna finally get some resolution and then, you know, it doesn't happen the way it's supposed to, devastating. And there would be more disappointment in 2007, after the smart's legal team searched a small portion of Susan Flores' backyard with ground penetrating radar and did not find any evidence. They just have never given up and are never going to give up on their daughter. Reuben Flores and his estranged wife Susan have always denied any role in Kristen's smart's disappearance. Do you have any information as to where Kristen's smart's body is located? Of course not. Does your husband have any information as to where Kristen's smart's body is located? No. When they were deposed by James Murphy, they also insisted their son was not involved. Does your son have any information as to where Kristen's smart's body is located?

Nope. Has your son ever told you that he did not kill Kristen's smart?

We never asked that question. Well, he just, the only thing about it, he says no.

Through the years, the smarts have kept pressure on the Flores family, but the Flores's have fought back, suing the smarts for intentional infliction of emotional distress, like the smart's civil case theirs was also on hold. In the meantime, Paul Flores moved to Southern California where he's bounced from job to job. But as Chris Lambert learned, Flores's pattern of behavior with women didn't stop. A couple times I would take a moment and he would just go, oh, come on, just give me a kiss, just give me a kiss.

What happened to her, Mario? How could she simply disappear after she was with you?

I don't have answers for that. 48 hours at CBS News Present. I'm just going to ask you straight out. Did you kill Kristi Wilson? No. I had nothing to do with her disappearance.

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Paul Flores may have wanted a fresh start in Southern California, but Chris Lambert says he could not seem to break old habits.

Paul worked with a number of women that he made incredibly uncomfortable.

Girls who he tried to make a pass at sexually. Girls that he tried to force to kiss him.

Some of those women who did not want their real names used, told Lambert about their encounters with him. So I locked him up to his sister's apartment. And all of a sudden he just like picked me up, carried me inside, turned around and shut the apartment door and locked it. So I said, you better turn some lights on right now and let me out or I'm gonna scream. So eventually he unlocked the apartment door and I left. Lambert also interviewed a woman who dated Flores until she says he became physically and verbally abusive. He had like a butter knife and he like held it to my neck and I was screaming and my roommate actually kicked down the door to make him stop. But Paul Flores was never charged with any of these incidents. Back in San Luis Obispo, the smarts feeling ignored by the sheriff's office continued a relentless campaign to get them to do more to find their daughter. What toll over time did this have on your parents? I think they're like carrying boulders on their back. Then in 2011, Ian Parkinson was elected sheriff.

If you were making a film about a new law enforcer who's coming to a small town to save the day, you'd probably cast Parkinson. He promised the smarts that solving Kristen's case would be a priority. I committed to them that I was gonna go back to the beginning and re-examine every piece of evidence that we had. But Parkinson acknowledges it hasn't been easy. There was early mistakes made that you can't recover from when you're missing those vital pieces. Is this a case that takes a miracle to solve? I hope not. Since Parkinson came on the scene, investigators have dug up hillsides, searched the homes and properties of all the Flores's, collected evidence, seized Paul Flores's computers, monitored his cell phone and text messages, and found new witnesses, some with the help of Chris Lambert. I brought them a number of witnesses that they were very interested in. I also brought them witnesses that they had no interest in whatsoever, and then months and months later they'd reach back out and say, can you get us in touch with this person again? In April 2021, investigators finally put the pieces of the puzzle together and decided they had enough to charge the then 44-year-old Paul Flores with Kristen's murder, and his then 80-year-old father as being an accessory after the fact. The allegation against Rubin is that he helped to conceal Kristen's body after the murder was committed. San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow. We don't have evidence sufficient to charge anyone else at this time, but the investigation is ongoing. And for the first time, clues about what may have happened to Kristen Smart. Forensic physical evidence was located, and yes, we believe it's linked to Kristen, and yes, we did find physical evidence at at least two homes.

Like what may have been discovered in March 2021, when investigators searched Rubin Flores' house using cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar. They did a significant amount of digging underneath the house. They took in soil, I assume, for some kind of analysis. According to a county probation bail report obtained by the San Luis Obispo Tribune, biological evidence was found under Rubin's deck. The question for decades was, well, where did the body go? Murphy has filed an additional civil suit against Rubin Flores and others for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, and the complaint has some claims about what led investigators to focus under Rubin's deck in the first place. The podcast is out. People are watching Rubin Flores and Susan Flores and Paul Flores. Suddenly major pieces of evidence came forward. An important tip came in after a February 2020 search of Paul, Susan, and Rubin's properties. Murphy alleges four nights later, strange activity was seen at Rubin's house. And I witnessed, actually, documented the fact that throughout the night there was activity in the area of the underside of that deck. I'm not at liberty to describe how it was documented, but I've seen it. That witness initially came forward to Chris Lambert, who passed the information to the sheriff's office, and Murphy. In his complaint, Murphy alleges, along with Rubin, there were two other unnamed individuals. But he says they are Rubin's ex-wife Susan and her boyfriend. So why would Susan Flores, her boyfriend, and Rubin Flores be up all night long working under that deck? The lawsuit claims they were moving. Kristen's remains.

The location where all this activity occurred is where they found the biological materials, and the body's not there now. And there are more horrifying allegations about what may have happened to Kristen after she was last seen with Paul Flores. It is alleged that Mr. Flores caused the death of Kristen Smart while in the commission of or attempted rape. Because of the statute of limitations, Dow says Paul Flores cannot be charged with rape. But the allegation that he was committing or attempting to commit a rape when he killed her is the basis for which we are able to file first degree felony murder charges. Authorities made clear that they planned to use Flores's alleged predatory behavior against him. We intend to use evidence of other sexual crimes in this prosecution to prove the facts necessary for the attempted rape in this case. And according to that probation report, dozens of women have recounted Paul Flores's sexual assaults and predatory behavior that document his 25 years as a serial rapist. He has not been charged in those incidents.

We have evidence that we do believe there are other people that are not yet identified that have had some kind of a criminal act perpetrated on them by Mr. Flores. 48 hours has learned these suspicions sent to around evidence found during that 2020 search of Paul Flores's home. Sources tell us investigators discovered photographs and videos on Flores's computer showing him engaged in sexual activity with at least 10 different women, apparently in various states of consciousness. Paul Flores and his father both pleaded not guilty to all charges at their arraignment.

Ruben's attorney Harold Messick dismissed the evidence against his client as quote, so minimal as to shock the conscience. He later argued that the biological evidence found under the deck was not conclusively human blood and DNA evidence could not be found linking any other evidence to Kristen. Susan Flores and her boyfriend were never charged in the case.

Ruben Flores was released on $50,000 bail to his ex-wife. He was required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet, but Paul Flores remained behind bars without bail. To see them in custody was a feeling of great joy for me. My job was to hunt them and that's what I've been doing for a long, long time along with a lot of other people. And that's been our goal. It is also what the smarts have been waiting for for more than a quarter of a century. Chris Lampert says they're cautiously optimistic. They're hopeful, but they've also been let down so many times before. I think they are just waiting to see what the outcome is going to be. They're interested in seeing Paul Flores get convicted and Ruben Flores get held accountable. Most importantly, they want to find their daughter.

The doorbell rings. Two men at the door. She goes to close the door on them. They force themselves in with guns. They take her by force. They hooded me as soon as I went into the van. A deputy chases them down. I opened the rear door of the van and scared me. So I jumped back and I shut the door. 48 hours next on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.