SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office released new details in the Kristin Smart investigation Wednesday, marking one of the most significant public updates in the case in years.
The sheriff's office confirmed it had two trucks in evidence, both of which belonged to Flores family members in 1996, the year Smart disappeared.
Paul Flores was the last person to see Smart alive in May of that year. At the time, the sheriff's office had said he was the only suspect, though charges were never filed against him.
The sheriff's office said Wednesday it was releasing the updated information "in response to the large number of recent public inquiries."
The case was thrust back into the spotlight in recent months with the release of a podcast called "Your Own Backyard," which closely examined Smart's disappearance and the investigation that followed.
Since 2011, when current Sheriff Ian Parkinson took office, investigators said they served 18 search warrants, conducted physical searches at nine locations, re-examined every piece of evidence collected in the case, and submitted 37 new items for DNA testing.
Deputies said they also recovered 140 new items of evidence, conducted 91 interviews, and wrote 364 supplemental reports.
In total, the sheriff's office said it had spent about $62,000 investigating the case and invested more than 7,500 employee hours since 2011.
Earlier Wednesday, the Smart family released a statement outlining the same updates in the case.
The family also thanked Chris Lambert, who launched the 'Your Own Backyard' podcast in late 2019. A new episode of the podcast was just released Wednesday.
The family said the podcast had been "instrumental in renewing interest in Kristin's investigation and generating many new leads."
Smart was a 19-year-old freshman at Cal Poly when she went missing in May of 1996.
Smart had gone to a party off campus and was last seen walking back to her dorm room with Paul Flores and two other students. Flores was the last person to see her alive.
Smart was declared legally dead in 2002, though her body was never found.
Earlier this month, Smart's mother told the Stockton Record newspaper that a former FBI agent told her to "be ready" for updates in the case and that she may want to get away for a while.
The family's full statement reads:
"Congratulations to Chris Lambert for his outstanding podcast, Your Own Backyard! His seventh episode is now live and it is a must listen. Thanks to Chris and all the supporters who have made such an amazing difference. Your Own Backyard has been instrumental in renewing interest in Kristin’s investigation and generating many new leads. We now know that the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office has issued 18 search warrants of 9 locations, conducted 91 new interviews, filed 364 supplemental reports and obtained 140 new items of evidence. Later today, the Sheriff’s Department will confirm that now they have vehicles in their possession. Keep the faith and know that you are all making a difference. To stay updated on the latest news, this weekend’s vigil and new developments, visit KristinSmart.org"
Family of Kristin Smart releases new statement on investigation update
Potential break expected in Kristin Smart case
Sheriff's Office, FBI begin excavation at Cal Poly for Missing Kristin Smart