‘Prime suspect’ arrested in California college student Kristin Smart’s 1996 disappearance

Smart 19 of Stockton California vanished in May 1996 while returning to a dorm at Cali

Kristin Smart case: Paul Flores, prime suspect, arrested nearly 25 years after her disappearance, reports say

During a press conference, Sheriff Ian Parkinson said Paul Flores was booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail just after noon Tuesday on a single charge of murder.

In 2016, additional evidence was discovered that confirmed Paul Flores was a suspect, the sheriff said. Paul and Ruben Flores are in the custody of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office, one of the sources said.

The arrests of the Floreses comes a year and two months after authorities executed new search warrants at four locations in California and Washington State, including Flores's San Pedro, California home, and the two homes of his parents in Arroyo Grande. He was the last person to see Smart alive and for years has been eyed by detectives in the case; he has denied any involvement in Smart's disappearance.

Ruben Flore is arrested for accessory after the fact by the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Department in the murder of Kristin Smart. His lawyer, Robert Sanger, declined to comment.

"Until we return Kristin to (her family) this is not over", Parkinson said. Without sufficient evidence to implicate him in Smart's disappearance and presumed death, authorities would only describe Flores as a suspect. She had gone to an off-campus party and was making the roughly 10-minute walk back to her dormitory with two other students when, the students later told the police, Flores appeared and promised to see her back to her room. While her body has never been found, she was declared legally dead on May 25, 2002.

Smart, a 19-year-old freshman at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo disappeared in the early hours of May 25, 1996, after a party near school. They did not say if any evidence was found.

And the arrests come a month after new searches were conducted at Ruben Flores's home, including a search under a back deck and in the backyard with ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs. Ruben Flores was jailed in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Last month, after refusing to speak with reporters for years, Susan Flores told a local television station she was exhausted of the enduring "harassment" by detectives who had treated her son as a "scapegoat".

Investigators are now digging under Rubin Flores' home in another attempt to find the teen's body.

Smart's family issued a statement saying it was a bittersweet day they had long waited for and a first step toward bringing their daughter home.

Parkinson also credited the podcast "Your Own Backyard" for giving the case renewed widespread attention that led to a key witness coming forward. It is unclear what new evidence detectives had unearthed to prompt another search of the property, which was first scoured 20 years earlier, as an affidavit seeking a judge's sign-off on the warrant remains sealed.

Paul has remained silent through the years, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to not answer questions before a grand jury and in a deposition for a lawsuit that was brought against him.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated throughout the day.

Ontario students not returning to classroom after April break