Can new info help solve the case of missing college student Kristin Smart? - CBS News
Nov 29, 2020 9 mins, 5 secs

Kristin Smart was a college freshman who vanished in 1996 after attending a party just off the campus of California Polytechnic State University, known as Cal Poly, in San Luis Obispo, California.

Chris Lambert | Podcaster:  I'm just a naturally curious person and this case is something that I've wondered about for years.

 Chris Lambert was just 8 years old when Kristin Smart vanished on her way home from a college party in San Luis Obispo, California.

Chris Lambert:  I remember seeing it on the news … it was something scary and they were talking about it pretty regularly.

Chris Lambert: There had been no news stories, no official word about Kristin Smart for almost two years.

Back in May 1996, Kristin Smart was finishing her freshman year at California Polytechnic State University – better known as Cal Poly.  Her younger sister Lindsey says their mother urged Kristin to go there.

Lindsey Smart Stewart: She definitely, like, took advantage of life, seized the day … she was super ambitious and was determined you know, to find the next adventure.

Margarita Campos: I was a little bit more introverted and inhibited and she was like, "no, we have to go out and we have to go like … live life." … And she was growing as an individual.

Margarita Campos: Kristin was like, … "come on, let's go, let's go." And I was like, "nah, 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.

Margarita Campos: But when we got to the house it was pretty dead too, it was really -- it was like a couple of roommates hanging out playing video games … And Kristin was, like oh gosh, there has to be something better than this.

Margarita Campos: I'll never forget her shadow against the building, this apartment complex, just standing like kind of cross-armed with the long leg … And she was just kind of like looking at me like, [sighs] you're really walking away now, like you're really, you're leaving? .

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? ?

…  And the campus police – they were, like, "are you sure she didn't go out of town?" It's, like, she has nothing on her.

Margarita Campos: To this day, like, I was like, why – why did I just let her go by herself.

… I don't know if Kristin knew anybody there.

Chris Lambert: 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.

Chris Lambert: As they describe it, Paul Flores just sort of appears out of nowhere.

Chris Lambert: Paul keeps stopping along the way and letting Cheryl Anderson know, you can go on ahead.

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

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

Jonathan Vigliotti [with Lambert outside of the the dorms]: Paul and Kristin then make their way here.  What happens next.

Chris Lambert: I personally think that wherever Kristin went, Paul was there with her.

Whatever happened in those early hours, one thing is indisputable: Kristin Smart has never been seen again.

Jonathan Vigliotti: She had just 40 yards to go … and yet she vanished.

Chris Lambert: 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.

A series of missteps left the Kristin Smart case unsolved.

And while they did not rush to investigate Flores, Kristin's family says campus police were very quick to judge her.

Jonathan Vigliotti: There was a lot of focus on how Kristin … was drinking – what sounded a lot like victim shaming.

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.

James Murphy: 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.

James Murphy: 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.

Lindsey Smart Stewart: 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.

Jonathan Vigliotti: You look at Kristin Smart every day?

… It's just a motivator for me.

Jonathan Vigliotti: Is there any doubt in your mind that Paul Flores is responsible for the disappearance of Kristin Smart.

… every piece of evidence points directly at Paul Flores.

Like his black eye, seen faintly in a mug shot taken by the Arroyo Grande Police – just by chance – two days after Kristin vanished.

James Murphy: 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.   .

Chris Lambert: And he says he got a black eye playing basketball with his friends.

Chris Lambert: He told those friends he just woke up with the black eye. .

… they let the dog in, the dog makes a beeline to the bed of Paul Flores.

James Murphy: 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 Kristin back to her dorm alone, told police that her friends called him "Chester the molester," because he was known for groping girls.

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: "We need Paul Flores to tell us what happened to Kristin Smart … so absent something from Mr.

And six months later, when Flores was deposed by James Murphy for the Smart's civil suit, he kept quiet.

Chris Lambert: The only thing he would confirm on tape is that his name is Paul Flores.

PAUL FLORES: On the advice of my attorney ….

PAUL FLORES: On the advice of my …?

Chris Lambert … and it worked.

… You just don't talk, and you get away with it?

But was there evidence possibly placing Kristin Smart at his mother's home?   ?

James Murphy: Somebody found an earring that they say … was Kristin Smart's jewelry in the driveway. ?

When Kristin Smart disappeared, Paul Flores's parents – Susan and Ruben – were separated and living apart.

PODCAST EPISODE 3 | MARY LASSITER: 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 half a fingerprint.

Garin Sinclair: 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.

But Mary Lassiter says the earring matched the necklace Kristin is seen wearing on the billboard.

And might have connected Kristin to Susan Flores's house, says James Murphy.

… They didn't look at the Flores family's vehicles?

James Murphy: And it's 2:30 and 3 o'clock in the morning at Cal Poly … this is not a – a location from which Paul alone could easily move a body without a vehicle. .

Chris Lambert: Around the time Kristin 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's backyard in the weeks after Kristin went missing? .

Even more chilling, Chris Lambert discovered Kristin was working as a lifeguard at Cal Poly and her watch alarm went off every morning about that time. .

Chris Lambert: I think it's very possible that Kristin was at Susan Flores's house at some point early on.

Chris Lambert: They just have never given up and are never going to give up on their daughter?

Ruben Flores and his estranged wife Susan have always denied any role in Kristin Smart's disappearance.

JAMES MURPHY: Do you have any information as to where Kristin Smart's body is located.

JAMES MURPHY: Your husband have information as to where Kristin Smart's body is located.

JAMES MURPHY: Does your son have any information as to where Kristin Smart's body is located.

JAMES MURPHY: Has your son ever told you that he did not kill Kristin Smart.

RUBEN FLORES: [long pause] We never asked that question.  We just, "do you know anything about it".  He says "no.".

But the Flores's have fought back, suing the Smarts for intentionally inflicting emotional distress on them.  Like the Smart's civil case, theirs is also on hold.

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

Chris Lambert: 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.

PODCAST EPISODE 4: So, I walk 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.

Lambert also interviewed a woman who dated Flores until, she says, he became physically and verbally abusive.

More than two decades after Kristin vanished, Parkinson says Paul Flores remains the only suspect in her disappearance

Chris Lambert: I don't think he intended to kill Kristin

PAUL FLORES: Private property …

Denise Pearce says her good friend Denise Smart won't rest until she has the answers and Kristin is found

[Cries] … I'm just so hoping that there's gonna be some resolution real soon


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