NewsKristin Smart Case


'Kristin was full of life.' Matt Smart speaks to Dateline about older sister, investigation

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Posted at 12:54 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 23:51:43-04

Kristin Smart's brother is speaking out about the 1996 disappearance of his older sister.

In an interview with Dateline, Matt Smart said, “Kristin was, you know, full of life. The sort of individual who sought out adventure. The sort of individual who sought, you know, the best that life had to offer.”

Smart talked about the numerous searches that took place after the May 25, 1996 disappearance of the 19-year-old freshman from the Cal Poly campus.

“I can’t even put a number to it, but you always saw them on the hillside in their orange shirts. Day after day, day after day, day after day,” Smart said.

That was in the early days of the investigation.

Since 2011, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office says 43 search warrants have been served in Kristin’s case, physical evidence searches have been conducted at 16 separate locations and every item of physical evidence seized by all agencies involved in the case have been re-examined.

Now, as a way to honor his older sister, Smart says he has joined the San Diego search & rescue team.

“To be able to kind of pay back and pay it forward in a way that I was never allowed growing up to be a part of those searches… because I didn’t have the training. I’d never gone to the SAR academy, but I think also, I didn’t have the emotional skills to be able to deal with finding things in the field, but now I think I have the resolve to be able to get out there and help constructively,” Smart told Dateline.

He also said a turning point for his mother over the years became a desire to have a legacy for Kristin.

“What we came up with was a scholarship fund for those individuals who might not have the ability to go to a university, pursue a degree in either law enforcement or architecture, and the goal being to create an endowment, something that lives on in the perpetuity I think is a really a great way to simply say Kristin might not be able to do it, but how do we allow others to live what she wasn’t able to?,” Smart said.

Stan and Denise Smart started the scholarship in May of 2017, 21 years after Kristin’s disappearance.

It’s funded by the non-profit Justice for Kristin and is awarded to young women in San Luis Obispo and San Joaquin counties who share similar ambitions with Kristin.

Denise previously said to KSBY about the scholarship, “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.”

The non-profit is also now listed on a billboard in the Village of Arroyo Grande that directs people to its website.

Two people are now facing charges in connection with Kristin's case.

Paul and Ruben Flores have not entered pleas and are due back in court Monday.

"There’s so much emotion, so much vulnerability built up. The reality being what it is, it’s simply understanding there’s a methodically slow like molasses pace that this has taken, but if that ultimately leads to a prosecution, if that ultimately leads to finding a body, It will have all been worthwhile," Matt Smart said.

To watch the full Dateline interview, click here.