Neighbors describe suspect Paul Flores as quiet, paranoid and smart

April 22, 2020

Paul Flores’ San Pedro home


Approximately a dozen San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles county deputies descended Wednesday morning on the home of Paul Flores, a suspect in the 1996 disappearance of Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart. Some neighbors watched as investigators searched the property and apparently interviewed Flores.

On a warm Friday night in the spring of 1996, Kristin Smart went to a party at a home near Cal Poly. While several attendees agreed to walk Smart, who had passed out on a lawn near the party, to her dorm room, Flores said he would make sure she got home. Smart was never seen again.

When interviewed by police, Flores, who was sporting a black eye, repeatedly changed his story. At the time, his parents described him as a loner who had trouble making friends. At Cal Poly, students referred to Flores as an obnoxious drunk and weird.

Kristin Smart

For more than 20 years, investigators have referred to Flores as the primary person of interest in the disappearance of Smart. Earlier this year, officers searched Flores’ San Pedro home for the first time.

At about 7 a.m. on Wednesday, deputies taped off most of the 900 block of Upland Avenue in San Pedro and served a second search warrant at Flores’ home.

Shortly before 8:30 a.m., next-door neighbor Elena Palleschi noticed multiple people in Flores’ backyard, an oddity because Flores rarely, if ever, has any visitors, she said. Sitting about six feet from Flores, a male investigator appeared to be interviewing the suspect while a female investigator searched his yard.

Palleschi described Flores as quiet, paranoid and intelligent. She said he always appears to be aware of his surroundings and suspicious of others.

Generally, Palleschi has no problems with Flores, though his dogs previously tunneled under the fence into her yard, and he accused her of enticing them. Flores also interrogated her about a piece of meat he found in his yard, she said.

Palleschi said law enforcement officers are just harassing Flores.

“They’re not going to find anything,” Palleschi said. “He’s too smart.”

For part of the time they were at the home, deputies detained Flores in a black SUV as they conducted their search. After deputies released Flores, he reportedly got into his old model white Chevrolet Impala that was parked in front of the house, and drove away.

The search attracted several Southern California news vans, as well as a helicopter. Some neighbors did not want to discuss the situation with press, and one woman who stopped outside the house said “he ain’t guilty” and “you should leave him alone.”

Other neighbors described Flores as quiet and said he is rarely seen in the company of other people.

A neighbor who lives across the street noted Flores appears to be stockpiling concrete. Prior to the first raid of his home, Flores began buying sacks of cement mix, he said. The bags of concrete mix are currently stored under a tarp on Flores’s front porch.

The neighbor described Flores as quiet and “really weird.” The man said Flores creeps out his girlfriend, who is a listener of the Your Own Backyard podcast, which provides an investigative look at the Kristin Smart case.


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Paul Flores is laughing, at the incompetent and corrupt Cal Poly Police, which should not exist. Let them issue parking citations and perform private security company-type duties but law enforcement patrol and investigations should be contracted to SLOPD or SLOSO.

Definitely agree about the massive incompetence of Cal Poly Police (especially Officer Kennedy), but for the record, the SLOSO did not do much better. The people living in Flores’s mom’s rental found a bloody earring on the property that matched other jewelry that Kristen owned. The earring was turned over to two SLOSO deputies who photographed it in front of the residents when they took custody of it, yet somehow both the earring and photograph of it have disappeared from evidence and the SLOSO refused to comment on how this happened or even the identity of the officers that collected that evidence. If that isn’t gross incompetence or a cover-up, I don’t know what is! I’m glad they are doing searches now, but seems like they should have done them 20 years ago!

If the police return a second time with a search warrant for a location they had previously searched it is likely because they discovered evidence of a crime(s) that needs to be corroborated by going back in to search for specific items or to take photographs of interiors of a building. The police don’t go back a second time unless they found something pretty incriminating the first time.

Another thing to understand is that people seldom change their behavior or patterns until something forces them to do so.

If Flores is a predator and Smart was his first victim he didn’t stop and become citizen of the year when the police started questioning him. Once he moved out of the area he probably continued his patterns so there is no way of knowing what the sheriff’s detective might have found during the first search warrant. Kudos to the current group of detectives for putting in so much effort into this case; I only wish their predecessors had shown as much enthusiasm.

It’s pretty amazing how so many intelligent people can make up thier minds and assert that Flores is responsible for Smart’s disappearance based solely upon conjecture and with such few details. There certainly is enough to generate suspicion, and all the attention Flores is getting is warranted by the fact that he was the last known person to see her alive, but it’s rather shocking how the lack of solid evidence can sway so many. More shocking is how all these details are made available to the public during an investigation. That can foul the integrity of an investigation and taint a jury pool in the future.

If Flores is ever charged with anything having to do with Smart’s disappearance/death, his attorney will request and be granted a change of trial venue.

Haha! it’s funny sometimes how quickly the downvotes can stack up for one of the rare, actually rational comments on the matter.

Produce the body. Otherwise, STFU.

Good reporting……

He likes concrete. The state water pipeline was under construction at the time of her disappearance. She is encased in one of those concrete structures. I ran into this guy about a month after Smart’s disappearance…dude creeped me out.

I’d be quiet, paranoid, and smart too if I were him. But as I have nothing to hide I am free to be loud, well-adjusted, and stupid.