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Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Decade of Questions - The Disappearance of Kristin

Today across America, we recognize National Missing Children's Day. On one side of the US, there is a family recognizing another type of day. That is the family of Kristin Smart who remembers on this date ten years ago when she vanished without a trace after going to an off campus party.
The last known person to be seen with Kristin was Paul Flores, a shady character who offered to walk her to her dorm that fateful night. The day after Kristin's disappearance, Flores showed up at a basketball game with a black eye. He'd change his account of how he obtained the black eye several times, before he quit talking alltogether. Months later a cadaver trained dog zeroed in on his dorm and indicated the presence of human remains. It was clear that something went wrong the night Kristin vanished, and Flores more than likely knew something, however he wasn't talking. Ten years later, with a continued dark cloud hanging over his head, he remains silent.

Flores has had several brushes with the police since he was suspected by many of being involved with Kristin's disappearance. He has four DUI charges to date. Some have to wonder if his drinking problems are the onset of guilt that comes from that night from ten years ago. Will we ever know what Flores holds deep inside?
On several occasions attorney's for the family of Kristin Smart offered Flores a reduced charge if he'd lead them to Kristin's body, and both times, his counsel refused to respond. This makes so many people believe that he indeed knows something.

Refusing to let things die down, Kristin's family has searched on their own. Along the way, they met Dennis Mahon, a dear friend of mine, who has worked for the last eight years to locate Kristin. He's built the most informative website regarding the case, and has held vigil for Kristin outside the Flores residence until they filed a restraining order to keep him away. Apparently, there is something to hid or there would not be so many measures taken to keep Mahon and others away. Mahon began assisting the Smart family while working on another missing person case, in California, that of Kristen Modaferri. Kristen Modaferri vanished after leaving a part time job and has never been seen again. Mahon tells us all that he cannot abandon these two girls and that he will not stop until they are located. He shares in the theory that someone know something, and for the case to be solved, that one tip needs to be sent in.

With the Kristin Smart case, there is now a $100,000 reward in place to bring Kristin home. It was put in place by a man the Smarts nor Dennis Mahon have ever met, by the name of Terry Black. Black claims he is tired of this, and thinks that someone holds the key to solving the case. He feels that his money would be well spent if it helps find Kristin. I agree with him on this.

A special rememberance walk was held for Kristin on Saturday, May 20, 2006 in San Luis Obispo. More than 250 people showed up to show their support for Kristin. My group was unable to attend this year, but recognized Kristin at our home. You can see that information in a previous blog entry. We feel that Kristin's case is one that needs to be solved. It's one that is very important to my group. We've supported the Smarts and Dennis Mahon from the beginning. I flew to California last year to assist with the rally for Kristin as well as to visit with Kristin's mom, Denise. We just want to find Kristin.

Although it's been 10 years, it's important that we do not forget Kristin, and it's even more important for us to continue searching for her. I believe the answers are right under our noses, but not being shared with us out of fear. Somewhere along the way, someone has made a mistake, and we will find it. Kristin will be found and brought home. We have to keep working until we make the break.

See Also - Son Of Susan

related article - posted in it entirety

Decade passes; pain lingers Missing teen's family continues hunt for answers
SCOTT SMITH Record Staff Writer

STOCKTON - It was 10 years ago today that Kristin Smart, an athletic, tall and vibrant 19-year-old woman from Stockton vanished from a college campus in San Luis Obispo.Her disappearance touched off a nationwide story, and hundreds traveled to help find her. Even more have posted their own theories on Web sites speculating what happened after she left a drunken party at California Polytechnic State University.Still, no arrests have been made, and she has never been found.A decade after this high-profile case, Smart's family and friends still hope to find her. They've hired psychics, searched fields and even acted as their own detectives, interviewing Smart's friends, acquaintances and people who knew the No. 1 suspect."It's a tough time every year when May rolls around," said Smart's father, Stan Smart, who wants justice. "It's really important to find our daughter and bring her remains home."

Kristin Denise Smart was last seen on campus in the early-morning hours of May, 25, 1996, after staggering away from a house party in the coastal hill town of San Luis Obispo.Paul Flores, then 19, a fellow student whom Smart first met that night, was to walk Smart to her campus dorm at Muir Hall on the way back to his own dorm.By morning, her roommate - worried Smart hadn't come in - reported her missing. Flores showed up later that day with a black eye when he met friends to play basketball.At first giving police conflicting stories, Flores quickly stopped talking and asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. That's been his stance ever since.Flores and his attorney could not be reached for comment this week in Southern California. Investigators make guarded comments about Flores, saying he's at the center of a "very active" case."He has not been excluded as a suspect. Let's put it that way," said San Luis Obispo County Undersheriff Steve Bolts.Aside from his black eye, cadaver dogs early in the investigation led police to a mattress in Flores' dorm room, but he has adamantly refused to answer questions.He dropped out of college shortly after Smart disappeared and has a drunken-driving record. In December, Flores was arrested in Los Angeles again on suspicion of driving under the influence, and this time he could go to state prison if he's convicted.Asked why Flores hasn't been arrested in connection with Smart's disappearance, Bolts said he couldn't comment."We believe there is knowledge that somehow Paul Flores has, or may have, that he may be willing to share," Bolts said.Stan Smart, frustrated with the faltering investigation, said Flores' attorneys have twice suggested a deal in which Flores would lead them to the body in exchange for a significantly reduced charge. Both offers fell through."It makes me further believe that he's the one," Smart said.
Persistent pressureFamily and friends refuse to let Kristin Smart's memory fade.Over the weekend, about 250 people gathered for the Kristin Smart Hope and Awareness Run near San Luis Obispo, marking a decade of frustration and unanswered questions. The money will help post signs asking the public for information.
Matt Smart, Kristin's brother, who lives in Stockton and sells pharmaceuticals, recalled his big sister as a powerful swimmer whose eyes brightened at the thought of travel. Matt Smart, 26, was 16 when his sister vanished.An online video shows the Smarts playing together on a tropical beach in Jamaica and riding a cruise ship through the icy passages of Alaska. Another scene shows Kristin Smart graduating in 1995 from Lincoln High School.She was in her first year at Cal Poly when she vanished. Smart was declared legally dead in 2002, despite the fact that her body has never been recovered.Gov. Pete Wilson in 1998 signed the Kristin Smart Security Act into law, requiring campus police to report cases involving violence or missing students to local police. Smart's family faulted Cal Poly officers for failing to investigate the case early on.Kristin Smart's death brought together a family that was already close, Matt Smart said.Kristin Smart's mother, Denise, teaches English language learners at Lincoln Unified. Her youngest child, Lindsay Smart, is now 23.Stan Smart recalled driving down to Cal Poly to collect his daughters belongings from the Sheriff's Department and bicycle from the campus dorm where she once lived."You're supposed to bring your child home - not her possessions," Stan Smart said.
Fervent supporterFew have thrown themselves into the hunt for Kristin Smart like Dennis Mahon.The Charlotte, N.C., man isn't related to Smart and never knew her. He learned about the missing Stockton girl while searching for another girl from his hometown who vanished on vacation with her family in San Francisco.Mahon, 45, maintains an elaborate Web site dedicated to Smart. He once held a vigil in front of Paul Flores' family home in Arroyo Grande demanding answers until Flores obtained a restraining order.Mahon, a former homeless shelter manager who now works at Wal-Mart, spent 12 days in jail for continuing to harass Flores. He's agreed to take down the Web site when Flores begins to cooperate with law enforcement."These girls, I'm just not going to abandon them, that's all," he said.There's a good reason cases like Kristin Smart's draws such strong public reaction, said Andrew Edelman, a criminal justice professor for the University of Phoenix in south Florida."Any event that rattles our sense of safety and security gets society's attention," Edelman said. "I think it shocks."Cases like Smart's are alarming because men are expected to protect women and hold them in high esteem. Parents send their adult children to college campuses believing they're safe. Complacency sets in, Edelman said.It's particularly devastating when there's no closure, he said.
What's next?In retirement, Stan Smart said he'll spend time with his family and search for Kristin. He predicts more treks down to San Luis Obispo, like before, when somebody thinks they know where she is. He's done making the talk-show circuit.He's thrashed through the surrounding hills looking for her, too often uncovering the remains of dead animals and never finding his daughter.
"I'm not sure if we ever will. You know, they can't do anything more than what they've done to her. She can't be hurt any longer."


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