Kristin Smart

Smart

Another "item of interest" has been found at the third excavation site on Cal Poly's campus, where FBI agents have been digging since Tuesday in their search for Kristin Smart, who has been missing for 20 years. 

A team of 25 agents and 15 local sheriff's deputies began excavating a large swath of the hillside behind some of the older dorms on campus to try and find any remains of the girl or evidence that may lead to her body.

During their excavation Friday, FBI agents discovered an "item of interest" at the third of three sites pinpointed for excavation, according to Tony Cipolla, public information officer for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department. Cipolla declined to disclose whether the item was human remains or something else. 

"The items are being analyzed to see if they are related to this investigation," Cipolla said. "Ultimately, it will be up the sheriff to make a determination if we release that information to the public, because we have an ongoing criminal investigation and we do not want to jeopardize that case."

Cipolla said the FBI would wrap up the project by Friday night. 

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Sheriff Ian Parkinson announced Tuesday that excavation work would begin on the hillside behind the northernmost part of campus as part of a new lead developed over the last two years, strongly suggesting Smart may be buried on the hillside near the "P," painted stones shaped into the letter. 

The Sheriff's Department brought in specially trained cadaver dogs earlier this year as it worked the lead. Those dogs, which are trained to detect aged human decomposition, keyed in on several locations in the county, including three separate areas of the hillside at Cal Poly.

Parkinson has declined to disclose the other locations.

No charges were ever filed in the case; however, the Sheriff's Department has considered Paul Flores, a 1995 Arroyo Grande High School graduate, a person of interest from the beginning. Flores was the last person seen with Smart as the pair headed back to the dorms after an off-campus party.

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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