Kristin Denise Smart had been missing for five days when this story was printed on May 31, 1996.
It’s been over a decade since that issue was in the newsstands, but very few people have forgotten Kristin Smart. The national media focused their attentions on the local disappearance, making it a high-profile case for a long time. Anyone paying attention to the news at that time could find Smart’s name plastered across the front of every local newspaper, as well as others like The New York Times or USA Today.
Smart was declared legally dead in May 2002, six years after her disappearance. In spite of the years that have passed, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department still reviews her case monthly. The FBI still has Smart on file as a missing person investigation, with a $75,000 reward for any information leading to finding her.
Campus police originally thought Smart took an unannounced vacation to Hawaii, as mentioned in Sandra Naughton’s article. This was why campus police didn’t immediately report her as a missing person to local law enforcement, and why the Kristin Smart Campus Security Act was put into effect in California. The law requires campus police to report cases involving missing students or violence to the local police force.
Paul Flores, the person Smart was last seen with, came under suspicion and was investigated after her disappearance. He was questioned by the police, but he has chosen to plead the Fifth Amendment. Though Flores remains a suspect, there is no conclusive evidence that he was involved, authorities said.
Smart’s disappearance is, to this day, an unsolved case.