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UPDATE: SLO Co. Sheriff confirms key pieces of evidence in Kristin Smart case

Investigators on Smart case speak out in new podcast episode
SLO Co. Sheriff confirms key pieces of evidence in Kristin Smart case
Posted at 11:29 AM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-30 07:16:59-05

UPDATE (2:03 p.m.) - The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday afternoon that they have two vehicles related to the Kristin Smart investigation now in evidence.

The two trucks, which sheriff's officials say belonged to family members of Paul Flores in 1996, have been a hot topic in recent episodes of the "Your Own Backyard" podcast, which chronicles the disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart in 1996 and the investigation that followed.

Flores was one of the last people to see Smart and has been identified as a person-of-interest in the case.

The sheriff's office also detailed the work that has been done on the case since it was made a priority for the department in 2011:

  • The service of 18 search warrants
  • Conducting physical evidence searches at nine separate locations
  • A complete re-examination of every item of physical evidence seized by all agencies involved in this case
  • Submission of 37 evidence items from the early days of the case for modern DNA testing
  • Recovery of 140 new items of evidence
  • Conducting 91 person to person interviews
  • The writing of 364 supplemental reports

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UPDATE (1:10 p.m.) - In a statement on the "Justice for Kristin" Facebook page Wednesday, the Smart family posted the following statement:

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 Christopher Lambert 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 both vehicles of interest in their possession. Keep the faith and know that you are all making a difference.

Stan & Denise Smart

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(11:29 a.m.) - The former and lead investigators on the Kristin Smart case are speaking publicly about the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Office's efforts to find the missing Cal Poly student in a new podcast episode.

Chris Lambert, creator of the "Your Own Backyard" podcast, released his seventh episode of the series Tuesday. The podcast details the unsolved missing person case of Kristin Smart who disappeared from the Cal Poly campus in 1996.

The latest episode features Detective Clint Cole, an employee of the sheriff's office for nearly 30 years. In the podcast, Cole tells Lambert he's been a detective for eight years and is the lead investigator on the Kristin Smart case since 2017.

While Cole is primarily assigned to looking into cold cases, he says in the podcast that the Smart case has never been considered "cold."

Instead, Cole says Sheriff Ian Parkinson has made sure the case is constantly being worked on since he was elected in 2011.

Lambert also interviews Detective Nathan Paul who was the lead investigator on the case from 2014-2017.

Paul tells Lambert he is frustrated by the mistakes made by the sheriff's office and other investigating agencies in the early stages of the case.

In 2011, Cole and Paul say Sheriff Parkinson made the Smart case a top priority for the department. That year, a complete forensic review of evidence was completed.

Since then, Paul told Lambert the sheriff's office has served 18 search warrants at nine separate locations. Cadaver dogs were used in three of the searches, according to Paul.

A total of 91 new interviews, 364 supplemental reports and 140 new items of evidence have been recovered and added to the case file since 2011, Cole says in the podcast interview.

Paul estimates at least 7,500 hours have been spent working on the Kristin Smart case in the last nine years and $62,000 has been spent on investigative resources to try to solve it.

The "Your Own Backyard" podcast has renewed interest in the case since the first episode was released in September 2019. However, the sheriff's office maintains there have been no major breaks in the case and it remains an open and active investigation.

Both detectives thanked Lambert in their interviews for making people aware of the case through the podcast and said the sheriff's office has investigated tips that have come in from podcast listeners.

An article published by the Stockton Record on Jan. 18 quoted Kristin's mother, Denise Smart, as saying she had been contacted by an FBI agent who told her to prepare for a surprising new development in the investigation. However, the Smart family later clarified in a statement that the person who provided that information is a former FBI agent who the family has had a close relationship with over the years.

Kristin Smart was last seen returning to campus after attending a party in San Luis Obispo one night in May 1996.

While her body has never been found, Kristin was declared legally dead in 2002.