Kristin Smart: 19-year-old California student vanished from her dorm in 1996 never to be seen again
The disappearance of Kristin Smart, who was legally declared dead in 2002, continues to remain an actively investigated missing person case.
Nearly 23 years after the disappearance of 19-year-old college student Kristin Smart from the California Polytechnic State University on May 25, 1996, the FBI might have found a breakthrough in the case. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly told Kristin's mother Denise to brace herself up for the news they were going to give her, building suspense on the famous missing person case.
"Be ready," the FBI told her. "This is really going to be something you don’t expect," Stockton Record reported.
Smart, on the night of May 25, 1996, decided to stay late at a frat party in Cal Poly. It was Memorial Day weekend. The freshman was reportedly found passed out on a neighbor's lawn at 2 am by two fellow students, Cheryl Anderson and Tum Davis, who helped her get to her feet and decided to lead her to her dormitory which was nearby. Shortly after, another student from the party, Paul Flores, joined the trio as he offered to assist the two take Smart back to her dormitory.
Anderson and Davis, who lived off-campus, decided to leave Smart with Flores, who lived closer to the 19-year-old, and asked him to walk Smart to her dorm instead. Flores reportedly told police officials that he walked Smart to as far as his own dormitory, and then let her walk back to her own dorm by herself.
That was the last time anyone saw Smart.
The University Police Department initially did not report Smart as a missing person to the local law enforcement because they suspected the teen had gone on an "unannounced vacation", which was a common thing to do among students over the holidays. However, it quickly became clear that Smart had disappeared without any trace of her whereabouts.
Smart's disappearance, to this date, remains an unsolved case. However, over the years, there were multiple instances when evidence pointed towards Flores knowing what happened to the teen student. Reports state that Smart's bloody earrings were discovered by a tenant at the former residence of Flores' mother. The earring, however, mysteriously disappeared from police custody. Multiple searches were conducted to find Smart's remains between 1996 and 2007, including on the property owned by Flores' family. However, no leads were discovered.
The case of Kristin Smart, who was legally declared dead in 2002, continues to remain an actively investigated missing person case. The FBI reportedly has her case on file as a high priority missing person investigation, with a reward of $75,000 for information leading to finding her body or solving the long-standing case.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office, on September 6, 2016, announced that they were probing a new lead in Smart's case. Reports state that cadaver dogs were brought and officials spent nearly three days excavating an area near Smart's dorm in Cal Poly campus, and found some items. A spokesperson from the sheriff's office subsequently said: "The items are being analyzed to see whether they are connected to the case, which could take days, weeks or months."
Those items, as of January 2020, are still being investigated. However, the FBI's ominous message to Smart's family could be associated with the findings of the 2016 excavation.
Smart mother reportedly said that the FBI officials advised her to find a family spokesperson and potentially prepare to "get away for a while," according to the Stockton Record. She told the outlet that she expected the news "within a month."