Kristin Smart still missing 15 years later

May 22, 2011

Cal Poly officials seek to confront the latest wave of problems arising from alcohol abuse and sexual assaults as Wednesday marks the 15th anniversary of the greatest unsolved mystery on campus: Whatever happened to Kristin Smart?

Smart, a native of Stockton, was nearing the end of her freshman year at Poly when she vanished on May 25, 1996 after attending an off-campus party. She was last seen in the company of fellow student Paul Flores who claims he escorted Smart to her dorm, which was relatively empty due to Memorial Day weekend.

Family and friends continue to press local law enforcement for answers in unraveling the 15-year-old mystery.

Dennis Mahon, a self-appointed private investigator from North Carolina, has made the Smart investigation a personal crusade. Mahon says he has been asking Ian Parkinson, new San Luis Obispo County Sheriff, to devote more resources to the case. Parkinson did meet with Denise Smart, Kristin’s mother, last January, but there has been no further announcement from the Sheriff’s office.

“This is so insidious that it makes me wince to even think about it,” says Mahon. “I first met Denise Smart a year-and-a-half after Kristin vanished. I vividly remember sitting on Kristin’s bed with Denise and she was telling me for the first time all about her daughter’s disappearance.”

Mahon sent Parkinson a letter, dated March 5, 2011, in which he shared multiple emails claiming information about Paul Flores’ involvement in the case. Mahon goes on to trace the anonymous emails to Sonoma State University and believes that university officials there can identify the sender of the emails, a potentially major break in the case.

“The lead came in . . .2,837 days ago,” Mahon wrote to Parkinson. “I know that the cops of ‘Law and Order’ could have the lead checked out in under an hour. But in the real world, I can’t see why it would take a single work week—five days tops—to check this lead out, let alone 2,837 days.

“I don’t care how many different ways the Sheriff’s office tries to spin it—there is no way to justify allowing dust to collect on this lead.”

Paul Flores was investigated, but never charged. He has since left the area and is believed to now be living in southern California.

Anyone with information regarding the case is welcome to call Crimestoppers at 549-STOP.

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