Parents Of College Student Missing Since 1996 Sue Suspected Killer’s Father For Allegedly Moving Body


Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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The parents of Kristin Smart, a college student who went missing in 1996, are suing the father of the man suspected of killing their daughter, numerous sources reported Friday.

Smart’s parents allege Ruben Flores, 80, moved the body “under the cover of darkness” from his property after investigators searched his house in February 2020, causing the family emotional distress, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Ruben Flores, the father of Paul Flores, 44, was arrested April 13 and charged with being an accessory after the fact. Paul Flores has been called the prime suspect in Smart’s May 25, 1996, disappearance, and was charged with murdering the college student.

Paul Flores was also a student at the time of Smart’s disappearance and was seen walking with Smart on the way to her dorm at California Polytechnic San Luis Obispo.  Investigators believe that he was the last person to see her alive, and that Paul Flores killed Smart after attempting to rape her.

The lawsuit, filed in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages for the distress Ruben Flores caused the family by allegedly helping his son hide the body, preventing the family from having a sense of closure in Smart’s death.

“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 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,” the lawsuit said, according to the AP.

Earlier in the week, prosecutors reportedly said they believed Smart’s body was recently moved from Ruben Flores’ house, and that they were “in possession of biological evidence” that shows Smart was buried underneath Ruben Flores’ deck in Arroyo Grande, California. (RELATED: Body Of Kristin Smart, Student Missing Since 1996, Was ‘Recently’ Moved From Under Suspect’s Deck: Prosecutors)

Smart’s remains have yet to be found.

Both father and son deny involvement in Smart’s disappearance, and have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. The lead investigator in the case, Sheriff’s Det. Clint Cole, alleged that both men “are involved and it is a family crime,” according to The Tribune.

Ruben Flores was released Wednesday on $50,000 bail, according to the AP. Prosecutors argued he shouldn’t be released because it was possible Ruben Flores could continue to hide Smart’s remains.

Smart’s family suspected Paul Flores as Kristin’s alleged killer and claimed he “preyed upon” Kristin and inflicted emotional distress on the family, according to The Daily Beast. The family previously filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Paul Flores, but the lawsuit was reportedly stalled due to the police investigation into Smart’s disappearance.

Police have spent years examining the details of the case in an effort to piece together how Flores could have allegedly been accompanied in disposing of Smart’s remains, and what methods were used to move Smart’s body, according to the Times.