CBS’ ’48 Hours: The Disappearance of Kristin Smart’ examines one of the most baffling true crime cases of 1996. As the title suggests, it chronicles the tale of Kristin Smart, a 19-year-old California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) student who vanished on May 25, 1996. That night, three fellow students had helped her walk back to her dormitory hall after a party on campus. But among them, it was Paul Flores who last saw her alive. So, of course, when Kristin was nowhere to be found in the days that followed, he became the prime suspect.
Who Is Paul Flores?
At the time of Kristin Smart’s disappearance, Paul Flores, who grew up in Torrance, California, was a 19-year-old food science major at Cal-Poly when the incident transpired. He lived in the dorm building that was right across from Kristin’s. According to Paul’s own admittance, he walked her only as far as his dormitory before allowing her to go the rest of the way by herself. As per eyewitnesses, the two of them had spoken briefly at the party beforehand. The most crucial thing, though, is that the morning after, on May 26, Paul sported a black eye, the origin story of which he changed while talking to investigators.
Initially, Paul said that he received it while playing basketball. But then, in a taped interview, he admitted to lying and claimed that the injury was from hitting himself while fixing his truck. Strangely, Paul abruptly ended the interview soon after and refused to answer any more questions. Later on, Paul said that he just woke up with a black eye and changed his story because he thought it would “sound stupid” if he admitted to not even remembering how he got it. In an attempt to get Paul to divulge some real information, though, the Smart family sued him in 1996, but he took the fifth amendment.
Where Is Paul Flores Now?
According to the last reports, Paul Flores has been residing in San Pedro, California, since 2011 and is a “quiet” and sometimes “paranoid” neighbor. In the two decades since he has been a suspect in Kristin’s case, Paul has allegedly been harassed so much by the law officials that he had to leave several jobs and lose many opportunities. Even the Navy apparently refused to take him in because of his supposed connection to her disappearance.
Plus, there is also the fact that Paul dropped out of Cal Poly during the summer of 1996 as he was already in danger of being kicked out due to his constant bad grades and recent DUI charge. Paul’s troubles don’t just end here, though. In 2016, four women came forward to accuse him of sexually assaulting them, with the first incident dating back to 1994, when he was in high school. Although Paul has no criminal record that involves a violent crime, he does have at least three DUI convictions in his history. He served 240 days in prison for one of them, and for another, he was granted probation.
Coming to 2020, in just a single year, Paul has been served with two search warrants in connection with Kristin’s disappearance. The first one was on February 5, for “specific items of evidence,” and the second was in April, for his home. The investigations into Kristin’s case remain ongoing, and Paul Flores is the only named suspect, but even with that, as there has been no concrete evidence that ties him to the matter, he remains a free man to this date.
Read More: Where Are Kristin Smart’s Parents Now?