When Ian Parkinson was elected San Luis Obispo County Sheriff in 2010, he pledged to review the disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart.
Twelve years later, he says he's relieved there is a conviction in the case but still has work to do.
On Tuesday, Paul Flores was found guilty of Smart's murder.
He was also a student at Cal Poly when Smart disappeared after attending an off-campus party in 1996.
Flores' father, Ruben, was acquitted of an accessory charge. He was accused of helping hide Kristin's body, which has never been found.
In an interview with KSBY News anchor Richard Gearhart, Sheriff Parkinson admitted it was a long process to get the case to trial.
"Obviously, the conversation took place between me and the district attorney, and I really felt strongly that we had proven it beyond a reasonable doubt, and we had to loop in the DA's Office for several years because explaining the case in a sitdown conversation does not do it justice," he said. "You need three months to tell the case, you need three months to discuss the issues with the case and challenges with the case, so ultimately it was a conversation between the DA and myself and we made a decision that we were ready and we believed the case was ready and so we collectively decided it was time."
Parkinson said he's had several conversations with the Smart family since the verdicts were announced and reiterated his commitment to finding Kristin's body.
"I had a commitment to recovering Kristin and even if we had failed in the prosecution, that goal would have remained -- continue to search and find Kristin and to follow leads as they come in, and with all of this publicity for the case, we'll get more leads without a doubt, and we will pursue them," Parkinson said. "Even though Paul was convicted, it doesn't change the fact that Kristin is still missing.
"People see this and I've experienced this already as such a relief for the community, such a relief with people concerned with the Smart family, but I'm trying to emphasize that until Kristin is found, this case can't end, and whether that takes a year or five years or ten years, I know how I would feel if it was one of my kids. I would want to bury them in a location that we could visit or in a way allowed to feel comfortable that we had her back because she's been stolen."
Parkinson says the detective who worked on the Smart case will remain focused on this and other unsolved cases in the county.
Watch the full interview with Sheriff Parkinson in the video above.