Investigators search for Kristin Smart’s remains in Huasna area

Kristin Smart

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

Investigators searched for the body of murdered Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart in the Huasna area of rural Arroyo Grande on Tuesday morning, several sources said. Since Smart disappeared in 1996, investigators have excavated multiple sites in San Luis Obispo County as they work to return the body to her parents and to convict her alleged killer.

Paul Flores is accused of murdering Smart during an attempted rape in 1996. Charged with accessory after the fact, Ruben Flores is suspected of helping his son dispose of Smart’s body, which prosecutors believe was buried under a deck at his home.

Currently under a gag order, law enforcement is prohibited from discussing Tuesday’s search, though investigators had previously said the Flores family has ties to the Hausna area.

Tuesday’s search was not the first attempt to find Smart’s remains in the Huasna area, according to a court filing submitted by the prosecution.

In 2004, law enforcement received a tip that Paul Flores had buried Smart in the Huasna area. In 2019, Detective Clint Cole followed up on the tip. 

Jennifer Hudson, who encountered Flores at a mutual friend’s house in 1996, told Cole she was skateboarding at a home in San Luis Obispo with her boyfriend when Flores showed up. A commercial about Smart’s disappearance appeared on a television at the home, after which Flores allegedly boasted about killing Smart.

“As the ad finished, Flores said ‘that bitch dick tease. I was at a party with this bitch and all she did was lead me on. I finally had enough of her shit, so I took care of her. I buried her either under or next to the skate ramp out at my place in Huasna,’” the court filing states. 

Later, Hudson and her boyfriend drove out to Huasna and found the skate ramp. Upon seeing the skate ramp, Hudson vomited, prosecutors wrote.

In 2020, sheriff’s deputies conducted a search of the area using ground penetrating radar. They also conducted a dig at the location, but did not find any remains.

Paul Flores

Investigators now believe Smart was buried under the home of Ruben Flores, and that the Flores family moved the body sometime after a 2020 search and before they returned to Ruben Flores’ property in 2021.

During the 2021 search, investigators discovered human blood and fabric fibers in the place where they believe Smart was buried under Ruben Flores’ deck.

Ground penetrating radar found a six foot by four foot anomaly, and four soil samples taken from the area then tested positive for human blood but not for DNA evidence, records show.

Archeologist Cindy Arrington found staining in the dirt to indicate a body had been put in a hole, a chemical poured over it, the hole filed in and the body moved later.

The soil samples also contained fibers of various colors, including red, blue, brown, black and light colored or no color. When Kristin Smart was last seen, she was wearing red Puma shoes, black shorts with white stripes and a light grey top.

The Smart murder case is proceeding as investigators continue to search for the victim’s remains. Paul and Ruben Flores’ preliminary hearing, which will determine whether enough evidence exists for the case to go to trial, is scheduled to begin Aug. 2.

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