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Family of Kristin Smart says news of case development came from 'former FBI agent'

Family of Kristin Smart says news of case development came from 'former FBI agent'

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Kristin Smart

Cal Poly student Kristin Smart, shown in an undated photo, disappeared in May 1996 following an off-campus party. She would have turned 43 on Feb. 20 of this year.

Recent information about a “development” in the case of missing Cal Poly student Kristin Smart came from a “former FBI agent,” not the FBI as reported by the Stockton Record, Smart’s family said.

“To clarify, the Stockton Record news story was based on a conversation between the Smart family and a former FBI agent,” John Segale, spokesman for the Smart family, wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon. “The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation and will notify all of us when there is official news to announce.”

In an earlier statement Wednesday, Segale said there is no timeline for any announcement in the investigation into their daughter’s disappearance, just days after the report that a new development on the case was on the horizon.

“Over the past few days, our family has been overwhelmed with inquiries about the investigation,” read a statement sent to The Tribune on behalf of the Smart family Wednesday. “We sincerely appreciate the amazing support we’ve received and want to be clear that this is an ongoing investigation that is complex, fluid and continuing.”

Denise Smart, of Stockton, told the Stockton Record on Jan. 18 that she was contacted by the FBI and told to prepare herself and her family for “a development,” according to the newspaper.

The report led to a maelstrom of media requests and inquiries into when such an announcement could be expected.

Kristin Smart’s father, Stan Smart, was the principal of Vintage High School in 1996, at the time of her disappearance, and later served six years as the Napa Valley Unified School District’s director of student services before retiring in 2006.

In their latest statement, the family said the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office — which is leading the investigation into Kristin’s 1996 disappearance along with the FBI — is “not putting any timetable on the completion of it.”

“We support the Sheriff Department’s efforts and commitment,” read the statement. “It is vitally important that they take the necessary time required.”

The family clarified “there is no current timeline for any announcement.”

“When the Sheriff’s Department completes the investigation, they will notify all of us when there is news to announce,” the statement concluded. “Thank you for your understanding and our shared interest in the ongoing investigation.”

Cal Poly student missing since 1996

Kristin Smart, a 19-year-old Cal Poly freshman, disappeared early on the Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend in 1996, after leaving a house party just off campus. She would have turned 43 years old in 2020.

Though the case has long remained unsolved, a podcast series hosted by Orcutt resident Chris Lambert has sparked renewed interest in the community — as well as calls to search the Arroyo Grande property of Susan and Ruben Flores, parents of the only suspect in Smart’s disappearance.

Paul Flores, who was also a Cal Poly student in 1996 and now resides in San Pedro, was the last person seen with Kristin Smart, who was officially declared deceased in 2002.

In September 2016, the Sheriff’s Office and the FBI conducted a joint excavation of a hillside on the Cal Poly campus after announcing new information strongly suggested that Smart’s remains could be buried in an area near the Cal Poly “P” that had been searched by about 400 volunteers in June 1996.

Between Sept. 6-10, 2016, the agencies sifted through approximately 20,000 cubic feet of dirt, taking away bones and a possible “item of interest” to a facility out of the county for analysis.

Though the Sheriff’s Office called the dig “beneficial,” it has not said what, if anything, the effort revealed.

Lambert’s podcast, Your Own Backyard, was launched in September 2019 and has brought renewed public interest in the case.

In November 2019, hundreds of people gathered in the Arroyo Grande Village in a candlelight vigil in Kristin Smart’s memory.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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