Warrants served in 1996 disappearance of California student

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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) – Search warrants were served Wednesday at locations in California and Washington state in the investigation of the disappearance of college student Kristin Smart in 1996, authorities said.

Smart, who attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, vanished while returning from a party.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said warrants were served at two locations in San Luis Obispo County, one location in Los Angeles County and one location in Washington.

The Sheriff’s Office said it announced the search warrants because of the high-profile nature of the investigation and to avoid misinformation. No further details about the locations of the searches and what authorities are looking for were disclosed.

“The search warrants are limited in scope, and sealed by the court. As a result, we are precluded by law from disclosing any further details about them,” the statement said.

It added: “This is an active and on-going investigation. The Sheriff’s Office will not be commenting any further and no additional information will be released at this time.”

Smart, 19, of Stockton, California, had been seen with another student, Paul Flores, but he was never arrested or charged in the case.

Interest in the disappearance has been revived at times, most recently due to a locally produced podcast.

On Jan. 29, the Sheriff’s Office issued a statement in response to public inquiries that summarized continuing work on the case since 2011, when the current sheriff, Ian Parkinson, took over the department.

It included serving 18 search warrants, 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 and submission of 37 evidence items from the early days of the case for modern DNA testing.

The Sheriff’s office also said it had recovered 140 new items of evidence, conducted 91 person-to-person interviews and produced 364 supplemental written reports.

“Although it is generally not our practice to comment on items of evidence in active investigations, in this specific case we can confirm that the Sheriff’s Office currently holds two trucks in evidence that belonged to Flores family members in 1996,” that statement noted.

FILE – This undated photo released by the FBI shows Kristin Smart, the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo student who disappeared in 1996. Smart was last seen in May 1996, while returning to her dorm after an off-campus party. Search warrants were served Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, at locations in California and Washington state in the investigation of Smart’s disappearance, authorities said. (FBI via AP)
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