Kevin Puckett, a former California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, says news about the arrests in Kristin Smart’s disappearance nearly 25 years ago sent shock waves across the alumni community.
Paul Flores, a freshman at the same university was arrested and charged with her murder and his father Ruben was also arrested as an accessory to murder. Her body has never been found.
He says that generation of students have been following the case closely.
“Finally, they got the guy … we might actually go get some closure, the family and everyone else that’s been watching for 25 years,” says Puckett.
He says he and other former students have been keeping up with the case, “A whole generation of us were sitting there going, how can a girl go missing from a dorm that looks just like mine, right next door to mine and they not find her?”
His dorm room was next door to Smarts and while he didn’t know her, they ran in the same circles. But he says he did have several interactions with Paul Flores, the man arrested and charged with her murder.
“Even when you told him it was time to go he didn’t get that he didn’t make friends, with his attitude and demeanor … socially awkward is the best way I could put it,” says Puckett.
He says when students realized Flores was the last to be seen with Smart after walking her back to her dorm from a party, they suspected he had something to do with her disappearance, “It was scary to everyone that like a guy could just be walking around and everyone really really, really felt that he had to have been the one to do it because there was no one else.”
Still he says the FBI questions everyone who lived nearby including him.
Now he’s a father himself, who also lost a daughter he sees this case in a different light and hopes Smith’s body is found so her family can have some sort of closure.
“I’m one of the few people out there that truly understand the loss of a child when you did everything right and just bad stuff happens, it’s not your fault and I’m sorry,” says Puckett.
The district attorney in San Luis Obispo says they suspect Flores in other sexual crimes and are asking victims or anyone who has information to come forward: SLO County Crime Stoppers at (805) 549-7867.