California investigators probing the disappearance of a college student in San Luis Obispo nearly 25 years ago have reportedly found evidence that Kristin Smart’s body was “recently” moved from underneath the home of the father of the man suspected of killing her.
Smart went missing in May 1996 and Paul Flores, 44, was charged last week with first-degree murder after allegedly attempting to rape her in his dorm room at California Polytechnic State University following an off-campus party at the time. She was a 19-year-old freshman.
His father, Ruben Flores, 80, was charged as an accessory after the fact for allegedly hiding her body. His home is about 13 miles away from the campus.
Investigators “are in possession of biological evidence that makes them believe the victim was buried underneath (Ruben Flores’) deck at one time,” San Luis Obispo County prosecutors said in court records, adding there is “damning evidence that a body had been buried in that location and then recently moved,” according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
The county probation report was obtained by the newspaper.
Both men deny any involvement in her disappearance. Her body has never been found.
Ruben Flores pleaded not guilty and was released on bail. Paul Flores is being held without bail.
“Dozens of women have recounted Paul Flores’ sexual assaults and predatory behavior that document his 25 years as a serial rapist,” prosecutors also said in court documents, according to the newspaper.
The arrests last week followed significant developments in the case in recent years as new witnesses came forward, investigators monitored Paul Flores’ cellphone and text messages, and searches were conducted at separate homes where Flores, his father, mother and sister live.
Investigators used ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs during the search.
Ruben Flores’ attorney has dismissed the evidence. “The evidence is so minimal as to shock the conscience,” said attorney Harold Mesick.
Prosecutor Christopher Peuvrelle countered that investigators had found substantial new evidence since a series of searches last year that ultimately led to the arrests.
“Counsel said, ‘There was very little new evidence,’” Peuvrelle said, referring to Robert Sanger, Paul Flores’ attorney. “Well, then he must not have read the same warrant that I have. There is substantial new evidence.”
Fox News’ Frank Miles contributed to this report.