(CBS SF) — Paul Flores, the man named as prime suspect in the case of missing Cal Poly student Kristin Smart in 1996, was arrested Tuesday on murder charges in Southern California. His father was also arrested as an accessory, authorities said.

Flores was taken into custody in Tuesday morning San Pedro, Los Angeles County. His father, Ruben Flores, was taken into custody Tuesday morning at his home in Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo County.

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(l-r) Paul Flores, Ruben Flores (San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office)

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said Tuesday he can’t disclose what led to the arrests because search warrants are sealed, but he says Smart’s remains have not been found.

Sheriff’s officials were serving a search warrant at the elder Flores’ Arroyo Grande property this morning.

“For over twenty-four years, we have waited for this bittersweet day. It is impossible to put into words what this day means for our family; we pray it is the first step to bringing our daughter home,” Kristin Smart’s family said in a statement. “The knowledge that a father and son, despite our desperate pleas for help, could have withheld this horrible secret for nearly 25 years, denying us the chance to lay our daughter to rest, is an unrelenting and unforgiving pain.”

Kristin Smart (The Record)

Smart was a 19-year-old freshman at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo County when she disappeared while walking back to her dorm room after a party in 1996. Her remains have never been found, but she was legally declared dead in 2002.

Paul Flores has been a longtime person of interest in the case and last month Parkinson declared him to be the prime suspect. His defense attorney Robert Sanger declined comment Tuesday.

Flores was also a Cal Poly student at the time and was seen walking toward the dorms with Smart on the night she went missing. He has denied being involved in her disappearance for more than two decades, invoking his Fifth Amendment right not to answer grand jury questions related to the case.

Last month, sheriff’s investigators searched Ruben Flores’s home and property in Arroyo Grande using ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs.

 

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