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Community members honor Kristin Smart at candlelight vigil in Arroyo Grande

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Posted at 7:14 PM, Nov 17, 2019

Community members lit candles to honor a Cal Poly student who has been missing for 23 years.

Many people gathered in Arroyo Grande Sunday evening to honor Kristin Smart with a candlelight vigil. Authorities say she disappeared May 1996 outside her Cal Poly dorm after attending an off-campus party.

People met up near the Rooster Creek Tavern and walked to a home on Branch Street, where some believe Smart's body is buried.

According to investigators, Paul Flores, who was also a Cal Poly student at the time, has been referred to as a person of interest in the case.

"I'm here to plead to the Flores family and get this thing over with, to come forth with the information and take care of this. Paul doesn't want to live another 40 years with this in the back of his mind," said Clark Baird, who attended school with Smart.

In a Facebook event post, organizers of the peaceful vigil were inspired by the investigative podcast about Smart's disappearance called "Your Own Backyard."

The podcast, created by Chris Lambert, was first released on September 30, 2019.

"Thanks to Chris Lambert and his fabulous podcast, there's renewed hope and strength in numbers here and as a result of the podcast, there's a lot of new people involved now," said Candace Vanderplas, a friend of the Smart family.

The San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Department tells KSBY the case is still an ongoing active investigation.