May 25 marks 22 years since the disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart. She was last seen in May 1996 outside her Cal Poly dorm and was just weeks away from finishing her freshman year.
More than two decades later, the Smart family is honoring their loved one and the legacy she left behind.
Kristin was smart, adventurous and ambitious with many goals and aspirations. On this day last year, her family wanted to remember their daughter in a way that would help others, so they started the Kristin Smart Scholarship.
In the last year, $60,000 was raised and two female students in Northern California and one in Arroyo Grande received scholarships of $2,200.
“It’s a reason that we can smile and feel good and know that she is being remembered and being remembered in a positive way and helping other young women,” Kristin’s mom, Denise Smart, told KSBY News.
Paul Flores was the last person Kristin was seen with on the night she went missing, according to witnesses.
Sheriff’s officials have said Flores remains a person of interest in the case, but he has not been arrested or charged in connection with the 19-year-old’s disappearance.
"We know pretty much without question that Paul Flores is the one who kidnapped our daughter and is responsible for taking her life," Smart said.
Despite not having answers after 22 years, Denise says it has been a gift to have the commitment of local law enforcement in Kristin’s case.
“With collaboration between all involved, I think that we are in a much better place than we were last year and obviously extremely better place than 22 years ago,” Denise said.
The case to find Kristin is by no means forgotten, as Denise says law enforcement continues their fight for answers.
“We are strongly hoping that we are not going to look at year 23," she said.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office sent the following statement to KSBY this week in regards to the case:
“The investigation into the disappearance of Kristin Smart continues to be a high priority for the Sheriff’s Office. This investigation remains open and active. Our hearts go out to the Smart family. They understand and support our efforts to find a successful resolution to this case, to find Kristin, and to find the person responsible for her disappearance.”
To learn more about the Kristin Smart Scholarship, click here.