Pets of Lompoc homicide victim reunited with victim's family in Texas

The pets of a Lompoc homicide victim are shown with the victim's family in Texas. The animals were returned to the family this month thanks to the efforts of local law enforcement agencies and animal welfare workers.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Search warrant in Smart investigation served at home of Paul Flores

San Luis Obispo County sheriff's investigators on Wednesday served a search warrant at the Los Angeles County residence of a man who police have long considered the main person of interest in the Kristin Smart investigation

The search warrant was served at the home of Paul Flores, who was last seen with Smart before she disappeared. Officers sought to retrieve specific items of evidence, although the nature of those items was not disclosed. 

Smart, a Cal Poly student, went missing on May 25, 1996, after a campus party. Her body was never found, although she was legally declared dead in 2002. The case remains unsolved. 

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department was assisted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office, according to SLO County sheriff's spokesman Tony Cipolla. 

The new warrant follows four warrants served in California and Washington state in February. All five of the warrants are sealed, which prevents officials from sharing further details, Cipolla said. 

The investigation remains active and ongoing. 

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Pets of Lompoc homicide victim reunited with victim's family in Texas

The pets of a woman who was killed in Lompoc last month have been reunited with the victim's family in Texas, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

Sarah Stoffle, 18, was fatally shot at a Lompoc residence on March 25. Twenty-year-old Brenden Michael Terry, who was reportedly Stoffle's boyfriend, was arrested that same day and later charged with murder, while Robert James Scott, 23, was arrested two days later and charged this month with accessory to murder after the fact.

Stoffle had moved to Lompoc recently from Texas and brought with her two husky puppies and a cat. Stoffle’s death, and the subsequent arrests, had left the animals abandoned at the crime scene. They were eventually transported to the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society/DAWG Shelter by Lompoc police and animal control officials.

Stoffle's family wanted possession of the animals, according to the District Attorney’s Office, “to savor as a tangible connection to [Stoffle].”

However, the family was unable to travel to California to get the animals due to restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. For help, the family turned to the Lompoc Police Department and the district attorney’s victim advocate.

“The District Attorney’s Office then coordinated a plan to return the animals to the victim’s family through a joint collaborative effort of several animal welfare partners: Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society/DAWG, who organized safe transport, temporary shelter and veterinary care for the dogs; [and] CARE4Paws Safe Haven, who facilitated care for the cat through ASAP (Animal Shelter Assistance Program),” read a portion of a statement from District Attorney Joyce Dudley. “As a result of this joint effort, the three pets were reunited with the victim’s family on April 16.”

The pets were transported to Arizona — about half the distance to Texas — by Mia Harrington, a local dog care professional. Dudley reported Wednesday that “the dogs and cat are now well and living with their new family.”

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