The parents of Kristin Smart visited close friends and supporters in San Luis Obispo County recently to mark a quarter century since their daughter disappeared from Cal Poly after returning from an off-campus party on May 25, 1996.
The 19-year-old college freshman was last seen walking back to her Muir Hall dorm room with fellow student Paul Flores. Flores, now 44, was arrested in April at his San Pedro home and charged with Smart's murder following an investigation by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department. Smart was declared dead in 2002, and her body has yet to be recovered.
Stan and Denise Smart released a statement formally recognizing the anniversary of their daughter's disappearance and thanking those who have supported the effort to locate her.
"We took time to thank our special friends in the SLO area who have carried Kristin in their hearts including those in law enforcement who never gave up and continue today with steeled determination and effort to bring her home," read their statement. "While we were not able to meet with all of the Warriors for Kristin during our short stay, we wanted them to know that their determination over the years has been so valuable in sustaining Kristin's memory."
Attorneys in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court on Monday confirmed the July preliminary hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores, the father and son defendants who are charged in the death of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart.
A public memorial for Smart was held on May 25 near the Cal Poly campus. Organized by Tessa Witkofsky, the Walk for Kristin Smart event began at the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and Crandall Way and ended at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Perimeter Road.
The event was to honor Smart and keep her name alive in the community, according to Witkofsky.
The anniversary this year marks the first one held after the arrests of Paul Flores and his father, Ruben, who was charged with accessory to murder. In their statement, Smart's parents credited several individuals for their work in the case, including Sheriff Ian Parkinson for his "relentless commitment and leadership."
Parkinson promised to make the Smart case a top priority upon first assuming office in 2011, according to Stan and Denise Smart.
Other people credited include Orcutt resident Chris Lambert, creator of the "Your Own Backyard Podcast," for reinvigorating public interest in Smart's disappearance.
"His interest and his unique ability to tell his story have been responsible for generating unimaginable new attention to Kristin," according to the statement. "Thank you to everyone who have helped us with our quest for justice."
Stan and Denise Smart also expressed their gratitude to Jim Murphy, an Arroyo Grande attorney and an early supporter. Murphy represents the family in a recent lawsuit filed in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court against Ruben and Susan Flores, Paul Flores' parents, and Mike McConville, Susan Flores' current boyfriend.
In the lawsuit filed April 22, the Smarts accuse the three defendants of relocating their daughter's remains less than five days after the Sheriff's Office served a search warrant at Ruben Flores' home in the 700 block of White Court in Arroyo Grande.
Following the search warrant, the three allegedly removed Smart from a burial plot under the deck and moved her to an unknown location in the county. Stan and Denise Smart claim video evidence and eyewitnesses at the scene document the defendants' efforts, according to the lawsuit.
McConville and Susan Flores have not been criminally charged in the case.