Kristin Smart, the California college student missing since 1996, was killed during a rape by a fellow freshman — who may have gone on to sexually assault other women over the last 25 years, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney formally announced first-degree murder charges against Paul Flores, who was the last person seen with Smart and a longtime suspect in the decades-old cold case.
“It is alleged that Mr. Flores caused the death of Kristin Smart while in the commission of or attempted rape,” DA Dan Dow said at a press conference.
Flores, now 44, was busted Tuesday, along with his 80-year-old dad, Reuben Flores, who is charged with accessory to murder.
He is accused of helping to hide Smart’s body, which has never been found.
Dow revealed Wednesday that authorities now believe they know where the 19-year-old’s remains are buried.
She was last seen around 2 a.m. on May 25, 1996 on the campus of California Polytechnic State University.
Paul Flores, then also a 19-year-old freshman, had walked Smart home from an off-campus party that night, authorities said.
Investigators believe Flores may have killed Smart inside her dorm room, while “attempting to or committing a rape,” Dow said.
Since 2005, Flores has been known to frequent bars in the San Pedro area and may have committed other sexual assaults, the DA said.
He urged anyone with information about the killing or other crimes possibly committed by Flores to come forward.
The father and son are set to be arraigned on Thursday morning in San Luis Obispo Superior Court. Flores is being held without bail, while his dad also remained in custody Wednesday on $250,000 bail.
Dow said the murder charge against Flores includes the allegation of the sex crime, as the statutes of limitations for rape have since expired.
“These charges mark a major milestone,” Dow said. “For more than two-decades, three sheriff’s, three district attorneys and countless investigators worked to bring justice to Kristin Smart.”
“Today, we mark the very first move to bring justice to Kristin Smart, to her family and to the entire community.”
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