The former classmate of Kristin Smart who was the last person seen with her in 1996 after they left a party was charged with murder and attempted rape Wednesday, according to the San Luis Obispo District Attorney.
Paul Flores was taken into custody at his home in San Pedro Tuesday, while his father was also arrested on suspicion of acting as an accessory at his Arroyo Grande home, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department said.
Bail for Flores' father Ruben Flores, 80, was set at $250,000.
The DA said they believe they have the location of where Smart's body was buried.
He also said Flores was charged as an accessory because investigators believe he helped dispose of body.
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As the San Luis Obispo District Attorney Dan Dow announced charges against Paul Flores, he also made a call for any potential victims to come forward.
He said Flores was known to frequent bars in the San Pedro area.
"For over twenty-four years, we have waited for this bittersweet day. It is impossible to put into words what this day means for our family; we pray it is the first step to bringing our daughter home. While Kristin’s loving spirit will always live in our hearts, our life without her hugs, laughs and smiles is a heartache that never abates. The knowledge that a father and son, despite our desperate pleas for help, could have withheld this horrible secret for nearly 25 years, denying us the chance to lay our daughter to rest, is an unrelenting and unforgiving pain. We now put our faith in the justice system and move forward, comforted in the knowledge that Kristin has been held in the hearts of so many and that she has not been forgotten," the family said in a statement the day before when Flores' arrest was announced.
Flores has been considered a "prime suspect" by authorities for years.
Sheriff's officials said they monitored Flores' cellphone records as well during the yearslong investigation.
Teams were executing search warrants at both the San Pedro home of Paul Flores and San Luis Obispo County home of his father Tuesday, and had not yet revealed what evidence was found.
Sheriff's officials said new evidence was found that led to the arrests, but wouldn't reveal what that evidence might be. The district attorney indicated it was strong.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said in a Tuesday news conference that a podcast called "Your Own Backyard" produced by Chris Lambert also led to new witness interviews and national attention for the case.
He also conceded that in hindsight, mistakes may have been made early in the investigation.
"We're assembling puzzle. If you've ever done a puzzle there are some missing pieces... It's been a very slow process to find the missing pieces," Parkinson said.
Smart's body has never been found.
"We have not recovered Kristin," Parkinson said.
"It's my hope this is a first step in peace for the family."