On Saturday, CBS aired a revised version of their “48 Hours” episode, “The Disappearance of Kristin Smart,” to incorporate recent developments in the case — including the arrest of Paul Flores, the whereabouts of Smart’s body and Flores’ history of sexual assault.
It also included footage from press conferences held by the Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s offices in April announcing the arrest and charges of Paul and Ruben Flores’, as well as an interview from the Smart family’s private lawyer, Jim Murphy.
The “48 Hours” episode explained that in a county probation report obtained by The San Luis Obispo Tribune, investigators said, “[they] are in possession of biological evidence that makes them believe the victim was buried underneath (Ruben Flores’) deck at one time.”
Murphy described an eye-witness account that alleges Ruben Flores, Susan Flores and Susan’s boyfriend worked under Ruben Flores’ porch at late hours of the night in February 2020. This activity took place just four days after a search of the same area by law enforcement.
“The location where all this activity occurred is where they found the biological material,” Murphy said in his interview. “And the body’s not there now.”
San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Craig Van Rooyen issued a gag order on April 15 that barred any party involved in this case from publicly disclosing proceedings related to the case outside of the courtroom.
Murphy, the Smart family’s lawyer, is still able to discuss the case as he is only associated with Kristin Smart’s civil case and not the criminal proceedings that the gag order addresses.
The episode also addresses Paul Flores’ history of sexual assault and rape allegations — none of which he has actually been charged with yet.
According to the probation report The Tribune obtained, several women have reported acts of sexual assault and predatory behavior from Paul Flores.
“We intend to use evidence of other sexual crimes in this prosecution to prove the facts necessary for the attempted rape in this case,” San Luis Obispo District Attorney Dan Dow said at an April press conference.
For business administration freshman Katrina Lynch, living on the Cal Poly campus, this developing story of Smart leaves her with an array of unsettled emotions.
Moving from Seattle, Washington, Lynch assumed Cal Poly’s campus was safe in comparison to living in a city. However, once moving to Poly Canyon Village residents halls and learning about the Smart case through peers and the “Your Own Backyard” podcast, her narrative on campus safety changed.
“I kind of took that safety for granted,” Lynch said. “I just assumed that places are so safe, but now I feel a lot more on edge just like walking around.”
Lynch explained that for many freshmen like herself, living in the residence halls is their first taste of freedom. However, with COVID-19 precautions set in place forcing campus residents to live alone, she feels like many freshmen may be at greater risk.
“You don’t even have a roommate making sure that you’re home on time or home every night,” Lynch said. “Someone could just go missing and maybe they don’t have friends to report.”
Given the police’s initial response to Smart’s disappearance, Lynch said, “it’s very startling and scary.”
Lynch wishes the university addressed what happened to Smart in an up-front manner and increased safety training in regards to events that actually occurred on the campus.
Smart was last seen on May 25, 1996 while coming back to her Cal Poly residence hall after an off-campus party. Paul Flores is alleged to be the last person to have seen Smart alive and has been a suspect in the case for the last 25 years.
Flores was arrested on April 13 and was charged with Smart’s murder. Ruben Flores was also arrested and charged with acting as an accessory to the crime. Both men pleaded not guilty to their respective charges.
Ruben Flores was released on April 21 after posting bail, which was set at $50,000. Paul Flores is being held without bail.