A College Student Disappeared. 24 Years Later No One Knows Why

In May of 1996, nineteen-year-old Kristin Smart was a freshman at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo. Kristin was returning to her dorm after a party. She wasn’t alone. Nineteen-year-old Paul Flores was also a freshman at Cal Poly. He had offered to walk Kristin home after the party. An eyewitness saw Paul and Kristin on a street corner. Paul told police that Kristin went to her dorm, and he crossed the street to his. Denise Smart is Kristen’s mother: “Kristin phoned home every Sunday religiously. And when that Sunday passed, and she hadn’t phoned, I knew something was wrong.”

Police and volunteers searched the campus for Kristin, but they didn’t find a clue. Then cadaver search dogs were taken through the dorms. According to Det. Sgt. Peter R. Bayer of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office, the dogs earned their pay: “Those dogs hit on this room, room 128, at the Cal Poly campus, and specifically came into this room and hit on this mattress and the corner of this mattress. This room was occupied by, coincidentally, the male subject that was last seen with Kristin Smart on the day she became a missing person.

That male subject was Paul Flores. Det. Bayer said that authorities became suspicious of Flores’ statement that he and Kristin had gone home separately: “He says he continued into his dorm, which is up the hill, and she left and went up between the two dorms to her own dorm. However, we believe that, based on what we’ve learned from the search dogs, she actually continued into his dorm with him.

In 2002 Kristin was legally declared dead even though her body was never discovered. As of April 2020, authorities served Paul Flores with a search warrant for his Los Angeles County home. Paul had been served with a search warrant previously in February 2020 for “specific items of evidence”. Paul has not been named as a suspect in the case, but he was always a person of interest. The results of the search warrants have not been released and Kristin’s disappearance is still a mystery

See the original Unsolved Mysteries segment on this case streaming Season 9, Episode 1 with Robert Stack and Season 4, Episode 15 with Dennis Farina.

For a list of where you can stream this episode, please go to https://unsolved.com/watch/



  1. WJ

    There is a podcast called “In Your Own Backyard” by Chris Lambert that is really well done and on almost all streaming platforms. It goes into detail about this devastating unsolved case and how SLO PD and Cal Poly were detrimental to this case. It’s worth the listen and very well done.


  2. nikki

    Paul did it. She is buried in the backyard of his mother’s rental property. There is a whole podcast about this case that goes into a ton of detail. Paul also has a history of being creepy with women.


  3. Sleuths23

    They were cadaver dogs, not regular search dogs.


  4. tegan

    yes, the dogs hit his room. however, that does not give them a specific time when she was there. only that she was there. scent lasts more than a few days. she could have been there previously. you don’t need just a where in this case, you need a when. WHEN was she in his room?


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