Sheriff Parkinson holds a press conference after the arrest of Paul and Ruben Flores

SAN LUIS OBISPO — On Apr. 13, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson held a press conference on O’Neill Green in front of the Orfalea College of Business on the campus of Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.

The press conference came just before the 25th Anniversary of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart who went missing on May 25, 1996. 

Before Sheriff Parkinson began, large photos of Kristin Smart, Paul, and Ruben Flores’s arrest, a chronological timeline of the case were unveiled.

As Sheriff Parkinson and officials walked to the podium, the clock tower echoed deep chimes, and the crowd fell silent.  

Tony Cipolla, the Health Information Officer for the SLO County Sheriff, started the conference by stating, “Today is a day that many have hoped for, wished for, and prayed for. We have major developments in the Kristin Smart investigation.”

Before turning the conference over to Sheriff Parkinson, Cipolla acknowledged the President of Cal Poly, Jeff Armstrong, sign-language interpreter Robin Babb, Cal Poly Police Chief George Hughes, and Undersheriff Jim Vogue.  

Parkinson started by recognizing Unsolved Cold-Case Detective Clint Cole, who was not introduced by Cipolla so that he could make a special introduction–along with acknowledging several members of his team in the audience.

“We are beginning here today because this is where it all began, on the campus of Cal Poly University. On May 25, 1996, this is the last place that Kristin Smart was seen alive. It has been 24, almost 25 years since Kristin went missing. 24 years without a resolution, until today. I am here this afternoon to announce the arrest of Paul Flores for the murder of Kristin Smart. The Arrest of Ruben Flores as an accessory to the murder,” Sheriff Parkinson said as he started the press conference. 

As the conference continued, Sheriff Parkinson went through a few details of the case that he could share, along with an overview of the investigation.

Parkinson stated that he had been in touch with the Smart family several times throughout that day, and shortly after the conference ended, the Smart family’s spokesperson John Segale released the following statement on their behalf:

“For over twenty-four years, we have waited for this bittersweet day.  It is impossible to put into words what this day means for our family; we pray it is the first step to bringing our daughter home.  While Kristin’s loving spirit will always live in our hearts, our life without her hugs laughs, and smiles is a heartache that never abates.  The knowledge that a father and son, despite our desperate pleas for help, could have withheld this horrible secret for nearly 25 years, denying us the chance to lay our daughter to rest, is an unrelenting and unforgiving pain.  We now put our faith in the justice system and move forward, comforted in the knowledge that Kristin has been held in the hearts of so many and that she has not been forgotten. 

We honor Kristin today and those who worked with unparalleled tenacity and dedication to bring us to this day. Without Kristin in our life, there will never be justice, but we will pray for peace. Unfortunately, the indifference and lack of resolve we experienced early onset the course for many years. 

However, when Sheriff Parkinson took office in 2011, he made a promise that Kristin’s disappearance would be one of his top priorities. We are here today because he has remained true to his word. We have kept the faith, never given up, and fully placed our trust and support with him and his team. 

The task he and his team accepted was unprecedented in volume and scope, yet they met every setback and challenge with resolve and an unequaled commitment to Kristin and our family.

 Our gratitude to Sheriff Parkinson and his department for their professionalism, compassion, and perseverance is without measure.  We are forever grateful for Detective Clint Cole, who joined ‘Team Kristin’ in 2017 and brought new oxygen to Team Kristin, and kept our hopes alive. We would not be here today without his professionalism, perseverance, and dedication. His heart and commitment are without equal.

We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the exceptional skills, indefatigable work, and unselfish dedication of Christopher Lambert, who produced Your Own Backyard Podcast. Chris, along with four incredible angels (C, J, J, and J), balanced Kristin on their shoulders while lightening our burden and held our hearts and hopes with fierce resolve and commitment. There simply are ‘no words’! 

We also wish to extend our deepest gratitude for all those on the SLOSO team, including Commander Nate Paul, Detective Cole, and their incredible and dedicated support staff. To each law enforcement agency that assisted the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department with their extraordinary efforts, our gratitude is immeasurable. Each gave 110 percent to ensure that this day would come. 

We are pleased that Kristin’s case has now moved to the district attorney’s office, where we know we will be in good hands, and look forward to the day when there will be ‘justice’ for Kristin.

To HEAL, we must REMEMBER not only Kristin but also every heart that carried Kristin and our family in theirs! Kristin’s story is ultimately one of unwavering commitment, resilience, and immense gratitude.” 

The Smart Family 

In the following days, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow held a press conference on Apr. 14, reviewing the charges in the case and outlining what will transpire going forward. 

A candlelight vigil was held in Paso Robles on Saturday, Apr. 17, where the community came together in Kristin’s honor. The family was not in attendance; however, they shared gratitude to the community with the following statement:

“While we are not able to join you for the candlelight vigil, we are with you all in spirit. Your love for Kristin and your unwavering support for our family for the past 25 years has been amazing and deeply appreciated. Many became involved more than two decades ago, like the relentless Dennis Mahon and our outstanding legal team, Jim and Garin Murphy and Mark Connelly.  You all have filled our hearts, helped pick us up, and powered us forward to this point in time. The day of reckoning is coming, and soon we will all gather together to celebrate Justice for Kristin.”  

To read the most up-to-date details of the case and preliminary court hearings, visit