Kristin Smart: A Life Cut Too Short 

The Paul Flores Trial


STOCKTON: The life of Kristin Smart ended very abruptly when she disappeared in 1996 and was considered legally dead in 2002.  The main suspect of this crime was none other than Smart’s classmate, Paul Flores. Twenty-six years later, on October 18 2022, Flores was convicted of first degree murder. Evidence found on Flores’ father’s, Ruben Flores, property linked the two to the murder of Smart. 

Kristin Smart,Image courtesy

Smart was a former graduate of Lincoln High School, graduating in the year of 1995. After her death, a bench was placed on the LHS campus in honor of her life.  After graduating  from Lincoln High, Kristin attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obisbo. During the summer prior to attending Cal Poly Kristin worked as a camp counselor and lifeguard. During that summer, Kristin stayed at Camp Mokuleia in Hawaii. Kristin had also traveled outside London on a family vacation, in addition to traveling to Venezuela where she became a fluent Spanish speaker. These trips added to Krsitin’s spirit of adventure. Many aspects of her life involved her love for music, adventure and for the ocean. Her future of traveling and adventure was unfortunately cut short on the night of May 25, 1996.

On May 25, 1996,  Smart went to an off-campus party with a group of her college friends in San Luis Obispo, California. This group of friends included her killer, Paul Flores. Her friends had dropped her off at the party resulting in Flores remaining back to walk her back to her dorm room. It is believed that Kristin was kidnapped sometime after 2 a.m. Three days later, a missing-person report was filed by her family. A major search operation was commenced by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office to find any evidence that would link to the disappearance of Kristin.  Particular areas on the Cal Poly campus were searched thoroughly and helicopters were used to scan the area. When Flores was called in for investigation, he claimed that he and Kristin simply walked to the dorms, separating to their individual dorms. 

Until March 2021, the case had only one person of interest, who was Paul Flores. In March, a search was put into place to look through Ruben Flores’ property in Arroyo Grande, California. This location served as a breaking point in the case when key biological evidence was found that linked the victim to being buried under the deck of the home. Samples were found in the soil and human blood was discovered. Paul Flores was then arrested on April 13, 2021, as well as his father, Ruben Flores, for being an accessory to the crime.

Paul Flores (Left) and Ruben Flores (Right)

Soil samples at Ruben Flores’ house tested positive for human blood as well as “biological evidence ” pointing to the victim being buried under the deck at one time. It’s now believed the body had been moved to another location prior to the search by authorities, according to the prosecution. The San Luis Obispo County district attorney concluded that Flores did cause Kristin Smart’s death and, in addition, he had attempted to rape her as well. The district attorney also stated that Ruben Flores helped to hide Kristin’s body (the evidence).

On October 18,  2022, Paul Flores was found guilty of first degree murder after a three month trial.  His final sentence for the crime amounted to 25 years to life in prison. Paul is currently waiting for his official sentencing, which has been moved from December 9th to April 25, 2023. After 26 years, Krstin Smart as well as the Smart family, have finally received their long overdue justice.