Inside the 25-Year Hunt for Answers in Kristin Smart’s Disappearance

But even when the initial frenzy quieted down, the investigation was frequently revisited over the years. Amateur sleuths took up the case as well, chat rooms and message boards giving way to social media and Reddit threads. The most notable deep dive of late came courtesy of musician Chris Lambert‘s 2019-2020 podcast Your Own Backyard, seemingly a nod both to the proximity of the crime to where he grew up and authorities’ suspicion that Paul had buried Kristin close to home.

The result, however, was always the same frustrating dead end, that Kristin’s killer was out there and it was no secret as to whom the police suspected, but there were no arrests and no charges.

“Because of inconsistencies in his activities, or claimed activities during that period, we believe he has further knowledge about what happened, and he is a suspect in her disappearance,” Sgt. Bill Wammock of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department told the Examiner, referring to Paul Flores, in 1998. “This has been a frustrating case for us, for the parents, for the press, because we don’t have an answer to what happened here.”

Kristin was formally declared dead in 2002. In 2006, sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Brian Hascall called Paul an “active suspect” and the investigation “open and active.”

Talking to the LA Times in 2006, 10 years after Kristin disappeared, Stan said, “Nothing really has changed. I mean, I still have a lot of anger about the situation. And my wife is a bit of an emotional wreck at times. And it hasn’t been resolved. We haven’t really resolved the issues as to where our daughter is, and what happened to her.”

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