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Arrest made in the 1996 disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart, longtime person of interest in custody

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Richard Winton

Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Nearly 25 years after Kristin Smart vanished while walking back to her dorm at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, authorities have arrested the longtime person of interest in the case, according to a source.

Paul Flores, who has long been described as a “prime suspect” by authorities, was taken into custody by San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s officials. In the past, he has denied any wrongdoing.

Flores, who lives in San Pedro, was the last person seen with Smart before she disappeared in 1996. They were both students at the time.

Smart, 19, was on her way home from an off-campus party. Flores was seen walking on a path to the college dormitories with her the night she went missing.

Flores was questioned in Smart’s disappearance at the time. He has lived in San Pedro for more than a decade while working in Orange County, according to sources. In 2016, federal investigators dug up a hillside near the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus, looking for remains. They also searched the yard of a home.

Smart’s family has sued Flores in civil court. In response to the lawsuit, Flores denied the allegation. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before a grand jury and in a civil deposition.

In February, Flores was arrested by Los Angeles police on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The arrest stemmed from information from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, which searched Flores’ home in April accompanied by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies. Flores has a previous felony conviction for driving under the influence.

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