The father of Kristin Smart, who has been missing since 1996, is relieved rather than happy about the verdict that has just been passed in a California court. It has been an "excruciatingly long journey" to this day, says Stan Smart, but: "Without Kristin there is no joy or happiness in this judgment." One day, the student disappeared from her university campus without a trace. Now the alleged murderer of the young woman has been convicted.
Kristin Smart was 19 when she was believed to have been kidnapped and killed. A fellow student of hers at the time, Paul Flores, who is now 45, has now been convicted. He was tried for three months. He had already been targeted by investigators in May 1996, shortly after Kristin's disappearance.
But the clues seemed to peter out, the case became a so-called "cold case" and was finally filed. The missing student was officially pronounced dead in 2002.
A true crime podcast, of all things, brought a breath of fresh air to the case. It's a well-known fact that these have mushroomed in recent years, but Chris Lambert, who picked up on Kristin Smart's disappearance in his "Your Own Backyard" series, apparently got it right.
Thanks to the new witness statements, the public prosecutor's office reconstructed the case as follows: Paul Flores is said to have accompanied the 19-year-old to her dormitory after a party. Kristin Smart had either been drinking abnormally or had been drugged by him. In any case, she hardly seemed able to walk to her apartment on her own.
But instead of bringing her home, Flores is said to have taken the young woman with him and tried to rape her. Then he killed her.
But what happened to Kristin's body? So far, the investigators suspect that Paul first buried the body of the 19-year-old under the terrace of his father's house. He lived not far from the university campus. When the investigators got frighteningly close to him, he is said to have dug up the body, probably together with his father, and buried it again at a previously unknown location.
Although Kristin has not yet been found, her alleged killer has now been convicted. Paul Flores will spend at least 25 years behind bars. However, his father was not convicted of aiding and abetting. For Kristin's parents, however, the case will only really be over when they can give their daughter a dignified burial. They hope that Flores will unpack at some point.
Sources: "Rolling Stone", "Mirror"