Kristin Smart case lead detective retires from SLO sheriff’s office

February 8, 2023

Detective Clint Cole


The lead investigator in the Kristin Smart murder case, Detective Clint Cole, will retire next month following a 32-year career with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.

Cole will retire on March 10, the sheriff’s office announced. The same day, a judge will sentence Paul Flores for Smart’s murder.

In 1990, the sheriff’s office hired Cole as a correctional officer. He became a patrol deputy in 1996. 

Then from 2002 to 2014, Cole worked for the Sheriff’s Special Operations Unit as a school resource deputy and as a sexual assault investigator. The sheriff’s office promoted Cole to the rank of senior deputy in 2014. 

In 2017, sheriff’s officials selected Cole to become the first investigator assigned to the agency’s newly created position of cold case/unsolved homicide detective. While in that role, in 2019, Cole became the lead investigator in the Smart case.

The sheriff’s office credits Cole’s investigative work for leading to Flores’s April 2021 arrest and Oct. 2022 conviction.

“It is very satisfying to see Paul Flores convicted for the murder of Kristin Smart,” Cole said in a statement. “I hope I’ve been able to give the Smart family some measure of justice for Kristin.” 

Officials also credit Cole with solving the the 41-year-old Atascadero murder cases of Jane Antunez and Patricia Dwyer, as well as assisting with the investigation into the 2018 killing of Paso Robles hairdresser Nancy Woodrum.  

“I am extremely proud of the work Clint has done for this agency, especially with regard to the Kristin Smart investigation,” Sheriff Ian Parkinson said. “He has accomplished much in his 32-year career, and his retirement is well deserved.” 

Cole thanks his family for their support over the course of his career. He now plans to spend more time with them and relax in retirement, he says.

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Thank you, Sir! We only wish there was stronger evidence, to put these monsters away forever. You did what you could, with what you had. Nobody could ask for more.

Congratulations Clint! Job well done!