2 men arrested in 1996 cold case of college student Kristin Smart

Kristin Smart the California college student who disappeared in 1996. FBI via AP

Kristin Smart the California college student who disappeared in 1996. FBI via AP

Flores, 44, was arrested at his home in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles and taken to a police vehicle in handcuffs wearing pajama bottoms and a surf T-shirt. She was seen with Flores, who was a student at the time.

He was booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail shortly after 9:30 a.m. on a single charge of being an accessory after the fact.

The case has gained momentum in recent years after new witnesses came forward and police got permission to intercept Paul Flores's phone and text messages, as well as searching his home and those of his family. He allegedly walked home from a party with Smart, who was reported missing to campus cops on May 28.

The two were arrested Tuesday at their separate homes connected with the disappearance of 19-year-old Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart, who was last seen on campus on May 25, 1996.

Paul Flores is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.

In a press conference on Tuesday, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said investigators discovered evidence in late 2016 confirming the younger Flores as the suspect.

Such no-body prosecutions, Dow said, are "incredibly important for the victim's family because they want closure".

Parkinson partly attributed the developments in the case to new information brought forth by an episodic podcast, "Your Own Backyard", by journalist Chris Lambert. Tippet said detectives presented their investigations to the L.A. County district attorney's office for criminal charges against Flores.

"Paul Flores was known to frequent bars in the San Pedro area", Dow said.

"There really is no hiding the fact that there was mistakes made early on and it made it much more hard", he said. "You know that first 48 hours is pretty critical in a missing person or a homicide". Parkinson on Tuesday declined to discuss the details of the search warrants leading to the new arrests, and he did not reveal the alleged motive.

Ruben Flores 80 was arrested Tuesday. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office via AP
Ruben Flores 80 was arrested Tuesday. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office via AP

During the probe spanning almost a quarter of a century, officials have pored over hundreds of items of evidence, including materials that were collected in the beginning and re-examined using modern DNA testing, Parkinson said. The size of the file on Smart's disappearance, Parkinson estimated, would be more than three terabytes.

Paul Flores has remained mum through the years, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to not answer questions before a grand jury and in a deposition for a lawsuit that was brought against him.

Dow declined to say how Smart died or why investigators now believe the killing occured in Flores' dormitory room while he raped or attempted to rape Smart.

Flores was being held without bail.

Ruben Flores was being held on $250,000 bail.

KSBY reached out to Paul Flores's attorney, Robert Sanger.

They appeared to be disassembling a deck outside the home and the sound of power saws and drills could be heard whining in the background.

Authorities have previously served search warrants at the homes of multiple members of the Flores family.

The mayor of Arroyo Grande said the arrests had brought a sense of relief to the city of about 18,000 people that sits just inland from the scenic Central Coast.

She was never seen alive again.

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