(CN) --- San Luis Obispo District Attorney Dan Dow said Wednesday that Paul Flores killed Kristin Smart in 1996 while attempting to rape her after an off-campus fraternity party near California Polytechnical University.
The new information came to light during a Wednesday press conference the day after police arrested Flores, 44, and his father Ruben Flores, 80, on Tuesday in connection to Smart’s nearly 25-year-old disappearance.
Paul Flores is charged with one count of first-degree murder, while Ruben Flores is charged with accessory after the fact to the crime of murder.
"These charges mark a major milestone," said Dow. "Today, we make the first move toward bringing justice to Kristin, her family, and the people of San Luis Obispo County."
Smart vanished in the spring of 1996 after last being seen near her dormitory on the campus of Cal Poly in the quaint coastal town of San Luis Obispo, located in between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Smart was a 19-year-old freshman at the time.
Like Sheriff Ian Parkinson the day previous, Dow declined to go into specifics relating to the new evidence collected in the past year as law enforcement repeatedly searched Paul and Ruben Flores' house, but said those searches did reveal new information.
“Significant new information has come into the sheriff’s office that we've reviewed over the last two years and some very important information just a month ago,” Dow said. “We've got physical evidence, we have witness statements, things that in our view and the totality have brought us to the point where we believe we can go forward and prosecute Mr. Flores for the murder of Kristin Smart.”
One of the largest remaining mysteries in the case, aside from the specific evidence that led to the arrests, is the location of Smart’s body. Extensive searches of both Ruben and Paul Flores' residence, as well as excavations of three separate areas near San Luis Obispo, have yet to yield a body but Dow said investigators have a decent idea of where to continue to look.
“We do believe we have the location where the body was buried,” Dow said. “We looked at multiple properties. I want to stay away from specifics.”
Smart was last seen near her dormitory on the campus of California Polytechnic University on May 25, 1996.
She vanished after leaving a fraternity party that evening. Paul Flores is the last person to see Smart alive, one of three Cal Poly students who helped Smart walk home to her dormitory after attending the off-campus party, officials said.
The other two students left Smart with Flores after he assured them he would escort her home safely.
Flores told police he walked Smart as far as his own dorm and left her to walk the remaining distance to the Muir Hall dorm. She has never been seen since and was declared dead in 2002.
Dow said Wednesday that investigators believe that Flores took Smart to a dorm room where he tried to rape her and killed her during the commission of that crime.
“The last place where Kristin was seen was close to the dorms and near Mr. Flores’s dorms,” Dow said. “We certainly believe that Mr. Flores’s dorm was a crime scene.”
Both defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.Follow @@MatthewCRenda
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