KRISTIN Smart’s parents filed a lawsuit against the father of her alleged killer on Thursday, claiming he buried and recently moved the missing California student’s remains from his property.
Ruben Flores, 80, has been charged as an accessory to murder after authorities say he helped his son, Paul Flores, dispose of Smart’s body after killing her during an attempted rape in 1996.
Ruben Flores, 80, has been charged as an accessory to murder after authorities say he helped his son, Paul Flores, dispose of Smart’s bodyCredit: AP
Smart was killed during an attempted rape in May 1996, prosecutors sayCredit: Reuters
Police were seen searching beneath Ruben Flores’ deck in March, where the body was allegedly once storedCredit: AP
The elder Flores was released from the San Louis Obispo County Jail on bail at around 11pm on Wednesday after posting a $50,000 bond.
His bond had initially been set at $250,000 but was lowered by a judge earlier Wednesday because he suffers from health problems and isn’t considered a flight risk.
Paul Flores, 44, meanwhile, has been denied bond and remains in jail.
A former classmate of Smart’s, he was the last known person to see her alive, having walked her home from a frat party at California Polytechnic State University on Memorial Day weekend, 1996.
Smart was reported missing three days later and no trace of her has been found since.
On Thursday, one day after Ruben Flores’ release, Smart’s family filed a lawsuit against the embattled father accusing him of disposing of Kristen’s body “like human garbage”.
The suit claims that Smart’s body was once buried in Ruben Flores’s backyard and he moved the body “under cover of darkness” to another location a few days after investigators searched his Arroyo Grande home in February 2020.
Attorney Jim Murphy, who has long represented the Smart family, also claims Ruben had the help of Paul’s mother, Susan Flores, and her boyfriend, Mike McConville, to dig up and re-distribute the remains.
Susan Flores and McConville are named as ‘Doe 1’ and ‘Doe 2’ in the lawsuit, but Murphy revealed their identities in an interview with KSBY.
Paul Flores has been charged with murder and has pleased not guiltyCredit: AP
The lawsuit claims Susan Flores (above) helped dig up the bodyCredit: KSBY
Kristin’s mother, Denis Smart, is seen holding up a photograph of her daughterCredit: Your Own Backyard/ Chris Lambert
Murphy believes the remains may have been dispersed at one or more other locations.
The attorney told the San Luis Obispo Tribune that a confidential witness known to law enforcement saw the remains being removed.
The lawsuit accuses Ruben Flores of intentionally inflicting emotional distress on the Smart family by hiding Kristin Smart’s body for 25 years.
“Had Kristin’s remains not been hidden, re-hidden and then moved yet again, it is reasonably likely (her parents) could have been reunited with the remains of their daughter and would have been permitted the opportunity to conduct a burial service,” the lawsuit reads.
“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.”
Kristin Smart, 19, was last seen alive walking home from an off-campus frat party on May 25, 1996Credit: Handout
Murphy claims Ruben Flores, Susan Flores and McConville worked under Ruben’s house during the night on or around February 9, 2020Credit: AP
A sign raising awareness of Smart’s disappearance has been a mainstay in the area since she vanishedCredit: Your Own Backyard/ Chris Lambert
In the suit, murphy claims Ruben Flores, Susan Flores and McConville worked under Ruben’s house during the night on or around February 9, 2020.
The cited date is just a few days after investigators served a search warrant at the home.
From there, Murphy said there is “compelling evidence” that Kristin’s remains were removed from Ruben’s property and scattered in the Huasna area.
“Defendant Ruben Flores and [Susan and McConville], through their actions in removing the remains of Kristin Smart from its location, and moving same to an undisclosed location or locations, committed acts of such viciousness, depravity and cruelty as to, by their very definition, cause severe emotional distress to Plaintiffs, the natural mother and father of Kristin Smart,” the suit reads.
Prosecutors also said earlier this week that “damning” new biological evidence had been uncovered showing Smart’s body had once been buried under the deck of Ruben Flores’ home but was “recently” moved.
In a search of Ruben Flores’ home in March, investigators were seen focusing on a lattice area under the deck of the property where “dirt had been removed from a hole”, according to Murphy.
A subsequent search of the property was also carried out earlier this month, after Ruben Flores and his son were arrested.
Ruben Flores’ defense lawyer, Harold Mesick, declined to comment on the Smart family’s lawsuit, citing a gag order in the criminal case.
The Sun has also reached out to the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department for comment on the allegations.
Paul Flores (above in 1996) has long been suspected in the disappearance of Kristin SmartCredit: Your Own Backyard/ Chris Lambert
Prosecutors also said earlier this week that new biological evidence had been uncovered showing Smart’s body had once been buried under the deck of Ruben Flores’ homeCredit: AP
Kristin Smart, 19, was last seen alive walking home from an off-campus frat party on May 25, 1996.
Moments earlier she had been found passed out on a lawn outside the party at 2.30am.
Several students stepped in to wake Smart up, though it was Paul Flores who volunteered to walk her back to her dorm.
He told police shortly after she disappeared that she was “walking real slow” and that he had hugged her waist to keep her warm as they walked.
According to Flores, he dropped Smart off around a block away from her dormroom in Muir Hall, before returning to his room in a separate dorm, Santa Lucia.
But Smart never made it home that night and she was reported missing three days later.
Paul Flores pictured in court last weekCredit: SLO Courts
Ruben Flores was released from the San Louis Obispo County Jail on bail at around 11pm on Wednesday after posting a $50,000 bondCredit: SLO Courts
Flores was considered a person of interest in the disappearance from the off-set.
Police spent hours with him every day for more than a week after Smart vanished, retracing his route home from the party with her that night.
At the time he was interviewed by police, Flores had a black eye and scratches on his knees.
But numerous falterings in the investigation would follow – including lost evidence and missed leads – leaving Smart’s family without answers for 25 years.
However, that changed in 2016 after unspecified new evidence came to light and Flores was officially declared a suspect.
The Sheriff’s office has also been surveying Paul Flores’ phone calls and text messages for the last two years, which officials said helped uncover “helpful” evidence.
Paul Flores was then named by police as the “prime suspect” in March of this year, and cadaver dogs were seen scouring Ruben Flores’ property the following day.
Less than a month later, the father and son duo were both taken into custody.
Murphy, who has been working for the Smart family for more than half of his 46-year legal career, said he was in tears over the arrests of Paul and Ruben Flores and said he’s savoring the idea of being able to witness the outcome of the case after so many years.
“To still be practicing and watch the final chapter unfold is the greatest reward for me,” Murphy said.
Paul and Ruben Flores are scheduled to be back in court for routine hearings May 17 and June 21, and a preliminary hearing — which will feature testimony and evidence submitted in the case — is scheduled for July 6.
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