Law enforcement officials testified on Wednesday about their experiences when handling the Kristin Smart case, including what was remaining in Smart’s dorm when she disappeared and what they were told by Paul Flores.
Paul Flores, 45, is being charged with the 1996 murder of Kristin Smart. His father, 81-year-old Ruben Flores is charged with accessory to murder after the fact. Smart and Paul Flores were both Cal Poly freshmen when he told their peers he’d walk her home from an off-campus party Memorial Day weekend. Smart was reported missing soon after.
Police got about 80 reported sightings of Smart. They didn’t lead anywhere, detective says
Lawrence Kennedy, a former Cal Poly Police Department detective assigned to the Smart case in 1996, continued his cross examination from Monday.
Kennedy went to the Santa Lucia dorms on Tuesday, May 28 after the Memorial Day weekend to interview Paul Flores. Kennedy does not remember if he used Smart’s name, but recalls Flores not knowing who she was.
However, Flores said he knew who he was talking about when Kennedy identified that Smart was the person he walked home with from the party on 135 Crandall Way early in the morning on Saturday, May 25. Flores told Kennedy during this interview that he knew Smart as “Roxy,” a name she introduced herself as to at least one person that night at the party.
Kennedy does not recall if Detective Robert Cudworth, working for Cal Poly Police at the time, accompanied him to the dorm.
During the 30-minute visit, Kennedy did not report seeing any unusual damages or discrepancies.
When Kennedy visited Smart’s dorm at 120 Muir Hall, Smart’s social security card, visa card, checkbook and calendar book from 1996 were all found, among other items.
In this interview, Flores told Kennedy that Cheryl Manzer split off from him and Smart at Grand Avenue. After consoling Flores that Kennedy would not tell University Housing about his potential alcohol consumption, Flores also admitted that he had drunk in the residence halls.
During the interview, Flores said that he was on his way to his sister’s house on the night of May 24 when he happened upon the party on 135 Crandall Way. Flores said he drank beer in his dorm room beforehand, but that he did not plan on partying that night.
Flores said he talked to a student in the Santa Lucia residence hall before going to sleep after walking Smart home. Kennedy told Flores to get him the name of this student by the following Monday. Flores never gave him a name.
Kennedy also interviewed Margarita Campos, who contacted Kennedy after she received a phone call a couple of days after Smart went missing from who she believed at the time was Smart. Kennedy attempted to locate the phone call but could not find it.
Over the course of the last 26 years, the Kristin Smart case has been rebooked from Cal Poly Police to San Luis Obispo Police to the County Sheriff’s Department. The FBI took over the case at one point as well. Kennedy led the case when it was first labeled as a “missing persons” case. Shortly after June 1996, when the case shifted focus onto investigating Paul Flores, he continued working “as needed.”
In addition to interviewing Campos and Flores individually, Kennedy recalls attending a dorm meeting at Muir Hall with about 100 students. Cal Poly Housing had questions about Smart, so the department organized the meeting on May 29, 1996.
“It was a general meeting,” Kennedy said. “There would be no sensitive material that would’ve been discussed at the meeting.”
When he went to interview Flores on May 28, Kennedy saw his room and said he did not notice anything unusual, describing it as a “standard room.” However, Kennedy said he did not investigate the room until after the school year had ended.
Kennedy attempted to reach Sheriff Deputy Richard Neufeld and another official to conduct a forensic inspection, yet both were unavailable.
It was not until mid-June when Flores and his roommate Derrick Tse moved out that their dorm room was locked and preserved with yellow tape. Around this time, Kennedy only remembered himself and Neufeld investigating the room.
Paul Flores’ defense attorney Robert Sanger cross examined Kennedy about “quite a number of leads” in the investigation that came from the Smart Family themselves. Kennedy said it wasn’t “quite a number,” but agreed that the family helped. Sanger asked about the Smart Family employing psychics and their own investigators to take on an “active” role in the case.
Ruben Flores’ attorney, Harold Mesick, questioned Kennedy about multiple calls he received reporting sightings of Kristin Smart. Kennedy said he received 75 to 80 different reports of sightings.
Kennedy said the sightings seemed to be “scattered,” with no patterns. Kennedy received several sightings reported at Taco Bell locations throughout California and across state lines in June, 1996. Denise Smart, Kristin’s mother, had said that Taco Bell was a favorite spot for Kristin.
One sighting highlighted by Mesick was reported by a man who said he’d seen Smart on May 30, 1996 in Cayucos the week after she went missing. Mesick said the caller claimed he saw Smart with an older woman and a child, and that there was a Swedish accent. The prosecution objected to this question, but the judge overruled.
Prosecutor Christopher Peuvrelle asked Kennedy if any of the reported sightings led anywhere.
“They did not,” Kennedy said.
By June 19, 1996, there was a shift in the investigation to focus on investigating Paul Flores. Sanger asked about Kennedy’s investigation notes that read, “Determination made that we should get Flores in now.” After objections were sustained, the question was dropped.
Paul Flores tells police officer he ‘did not want to get together’ with Smart
Robert Cudworth worked for Cal Poly Police in 1996. He interviewed several people on May 28, 1996, including Smart’s roommate Crystal Calvin and Tim Davis, one of the students who helped walk Smart home after the Crandall party. In cross examination, Sanger emphasized that Cudworth had interviewed several people before talking with Flores.
Later on May 28, Cudworth approached Paul Flores while he was on shift in a campus store, and took him outside to talk.
Flores told Cudworth that he saw Tim Davis and Cheryl Manzer outside the Crandall party, helping Smart, who was “having difficulty walking,” Cudworth recalled.
“He did state that he saw her at the party but did not talk to her,” Cudworth said.
After separating from Manzer on the walk to their dorms, Flores said he went toward Santa Lucia and Smart went toward Muir.
Cudworth quoted Flores in his police report that he “did not want to get together” with Smart.
A juror submitted a question to Cudworth asking what Flores’ demeanor was during the May 28 interview.
“Cooperative, appropriate,” Cudworth said “There were no red flags that went off at that time for me.”
San Luis Obispo County Deputy Sheriff recounts investigating Paul Flores’ room — after it had been cleaned out
San Luis Obispo County Deputy Sheriff Richard Neufeld testified, explaining the process he went through to investigate Paul Flores’ Santa Lucia dorm room.
On June 24, Neufeld went to Flores’ room to photograph the scene and look for “any potential obvious trace evidence,” he said. This consists of hairs, fibers, fingerprints, blood, semen stains or prints. Photographs of the room were shown to the jury.
Neufeld said the room had been previously cleaned by janitorial services.
Since only Paul Flores’ jury will be in court Thursday, Neufeld’s testimony will continue on Friday when Ruben Flores’ jury is present as well. It was not explained why only Paul Flores’ jury will be present tomorrow.