Nearly 25 years after her disappearance Kristin Smart’s parents sued a man who they claim moved her body to help his son.
(CN) — A week after the San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s office charged a son and father over the 1996 death of California college student Kristin Smart, her parents sued one of the men for emotional distress when he made bail on Thursday.
Kristin Smart’s body remained in a clandestine grave up until last February, Kristin’s parents Stan and Denise Smart say in their lawsuit.
Their daughter’s disappearance returned to national headlines last week when prosecutors arrested two men in connection with her death.
Prosecutors claim Paul Flores killed Kristin Smart while attempting to rape her in his dorm room after an off-campus fraternity party near California Polytechnic University. Police arrested Paul Flores, 44, and his father, Ruben Flores, 80, last week in connection with Smart’s disappearance. Her body was never found.
Prosecutors charged Paul Flores with one count of first-degree murder and Ruben Flores with accessory after the fact to the crime of murder. San Luis Obispo District Attorney Dan Dow revealed there are witness statements and new information in the college student’s disappearance. Police searched both Flores’ homes along with several excavations of three separate sites near San Luis Obispo.
The saga began on May 25, 1996 when Kristin Smart was last seen at her dormitory at California Polytechnic University. Paul Flores was the last person to see her alive and was one of three students to walk an intoxicated Kristin Smart back to her dorm according to prosecutors. They say Paul Flores killed her in his room during an attempted rape. Prosecutors announced “biological evidence” found at Ruben Flores’ home showed that Kristin Smart’s body was once buried in Ruben Flores’ yard.
On Thursday, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Craig Van Rooyen set Ruben Flores bail at $50,000. Van Rooyen said due to Ruben Flores’ age and the fact that he faces three years in prison if found guilty, he could possibly serve that time awaiting trial.
Ruben Flores pleaded not guilty to accessory after murder in Smart’s death. His son pleaded not guilty to murder, but is being held without bail.
Following Ruben Flores’ release from jail Kristin Smart’s parents sued him for intentional infliction of emotional distress. In a 9-page lawsuit, Stan and Denise Smart say Ruben Flores and two other unnamed people moved their daughter’s body from a home in Arroyo Grande, California on Feb. 9, 2020.
Ruben Flores and the two other people removed “the remains of Kristin Smart from the burial location inside the lattice enclosure below the deck” of his home, according to the complaint.
The trio “worked through the night, under cover of darkness, to remove the remains of Kristin Smart to avoid having those remains” at the home in the event of a future search of the property, Stan and Denise Smart said.
Roughly one year later, sheriff’s officials searched Ruben Flores’ home and they focused on dirt under the enclosed lattice area under a deck according to the complaint. Kristin Smart’s parent say Ruben Flores “committed acts of such viciousness, depravity and cruelty” that has caused severe emotional distress for them.
“The remains of a loved one, especially under the conditions of the disappearance and death of Kristin Smart, are precious to the family members of those deceased persons,” they say in their complaint.
They accuse Ruben Flores of moving Kristin’s Smart’s body numerous times, from a dorm room to hiding her body at various other locations which has prevented the family from burying her body. Ruben Flores has also denied them the opportunity to get “closure and peace of mind in the tragic death of their daughter.”
“Had Kristin’s remains not been hidden, re-hidden and then moved yet again, it is reasonably likely plaintiffs could have been reunited with the remains of their daughter and would have been permitted the opportunity to conduct a burial service at which their daughter could be laid to rest in a place of honor and dignity, as opposed to the present circumstances where their daughter’s body was discarded like human garbage,” says the family.
Attorney James Murphy represents the Smart family. Ruben Flores’ attorney Harold Mesick could not be immediately reached for comment.