The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's office issued a new search warrant in their investigation of the 1996 disappearance of Kristin Smart. On Wednesday, police served a warrant to search the home of Paul Flores in San Pedro — a longtime person of interest in the college student's disappearance. According to a public statement from the Sheriff's office, Flores' home will be searched for “specific items of evidence.”
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office conducted the search together, and hope that in doing so, they will get some answers in the decades-old case. Flores was the last person to see Smart before she went missing almost 24 years ago. In February, an initial search of his home led police to issue Wednesday's warrant, according to Tony Cipolla, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office told CNN. Following this week’s search, Cipolla said investigators “recovered some items of interest in the case” and “are following up on leads, tips and good investigative work.”
The warrants issued in February and this week have all been sealed by the court, meaning the Sheriff’s office cannot disclose information about them, including any items they sought or recovered from their searches. “This continues to be an active and on-going investigation,” the Sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Both students at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Smart and Flores had attended an off-campus fraternity party together the night Smart went missing. Smart was a 19-year-old freshman at the time and was last seen near her dorm room. Earlier that night on May 25, 1996, the pair was seen returning to the campus together.
Flores has never been arrested or charged in the case. Despite an FBI investigation into Smart’s disappearance after she went missing, police did not find any clues. As a result, her family had her declared legally dead in 2002.
But the search for Smart didn’t end there. Twenty years after her disappearance, in 2016, the FBI followed a tip that led investigators to excavate three sites on a hillside on the Cal Poly campus. Still, the search came up short as no new evidence was found. More recently, the investigation led to four searches in February of this year, three in California and one in Washington state.
“We would like nothing more than to bring closure to the Smart family in this case,” Cipolla said at the time. Flores’ home was searched in February, where investigators seized several electronic devices. The Sheriff’s office insists Smart’s disappearance has always been an open case, and said it will “not be commenting any further” on the investigation.
Refinery29 has reached out to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office for further comment and will update this story if we hear back.