PASO ROBLES – A candlelight vigil is planned Saturday night in Paso Robles City Park in honor of Christine Smart and her family.

Smart was a 19-year-old Cal Poly student who was reported missing over Memorial Day weekend in 1996. She was last seen with Cal Poly student Paul Flores as she returned from an off-campus party.

Smart was a 19-year-old Cal Poly student who disappeared over Memorial Day weekend in 1996. Photo shown

For the past 24 years, Flores has remained a person of interest in this case. It is believed that Flores killed Smart and buried him in the backyard of his mother, Susan Flores, or in his father’s home in Arroyo Grande and Arroyo Grande.

After years of local police trying to find the body of Christine Smarts and bring her attacker to justice, the case finally got the breakthrough it needed, and on Tuesday the 13th. In April, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Jan Parkinson announced that Paul Flores and his father Ruben Flores had been arrested.

Paul Flores is charged with the murder of Christine Smart, and Ruben Flores is charged with accessory to murder.

Parkinson said Smart’s body has not been found to date, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a location or possible location.

The case is pending and has been referred to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, which met with the defendants and their attorneys Thursday for arraignment.

Both defendants asked the Superior Court judge to postpone the case until Monday the 19th. April, to adjourn to submit it.

Christine Smart’s case caught the attention of CNN, Dateline, the New York Times and a long list of other news outlets across the country last week.

An absence of nearly 25 years is too long, a Paso Robles resident said. It’s time for national news to tell Christine’s story and give her family peace after all these years.

The Smart family shared their reaction after Flores’ arrest and first court hearing. Through their spokesman, John Segal, they let the public and the nation know that they are being closely watched and that, even after all these years, they have great faith in the justice system.

Late last week, reports surfaced that James Murphy, a family law attorney, would file a wrongful death lawsuit against Ruben Flores. To date, no complaints have been filed.

With the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office moving forward with the case this week and the District Attorney’s Office charging the murder, Christine Smart finally has an official date of death. At District Attorney Dan Doe’s press conference, a photo of Smart read: February 20, 1997 – May 25, 1996.

The flyer for the candlelight event states that Christopher Lambert, creator of the Your Own Yard podcast, who has been calling attention to Smart for the past year and a half, will be present at the event, along with several others who have supported the Smart family over the years.

Lambert, a Santa Maria resident, returned to the Smart case in September 2019; given the lack of information available, he decided to tell his story in an unedited fashion.

In the Your Own Yard podcast, Lambert talks about the night Smart disappeared and the events that followed.

Sheriff Parkinson said Tuesday at a news conference that in 2019 we interviewed several witnesses who had not been interviewed before….. I will say that some of this information came out in the podcast [Your Own Backyard, Christopher Lambert], that many of you are familiar with what was produced that ultimately led to the questioning of this witness.

After all these years, multiple shifts in all the official positions, and after a young man from the Central Coast has been working on Smart’s case for the past few years, justice for Christine Smart can finally begin.

The candlelight vigil begins at 7 p.m. at Paso Robles Municipal Park downtown. COVID safety protocols are recommended.

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