Investigators in Kristin Smart case search home linked to ex-classmate

Authorities conducted a new search Monday of a home with ties to what they now described as the "prime suspect" in the 1996 disappearance of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student Kristin Smart.

Armed with a search warrant, investigators with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office converged on the home of Paul Flores' father in Arroyo Grande. 

They came with cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar.

"So there's something there that ignited this investigation. What it is remains to be seen," said KTVU legal analyst Michael Cardoza. 

Cardoza said even after all these years, there still could be evidence that hasn't been potentially destroyed or removed.

"Keep in mind you can get trace DNA, you can get other types of evidence, like fingerprints that may be someone who's trying to dispose of evidence," Cardoza said. 

Investigators believe Flores is responsible for Smart's disappearance. Until Monday, they had called Flores a "person of interest."

Investigators say Flores is a former classmate of Smart, who attended California Polytechnic State University, or Cal Poly. He was the last person to see her alive.

Smart was declared legally dead years ago.

This is the latest in a flurry of activity in recent months in the case. 

Back in February, authorities searched Flores' home in Los Angeles. He had nothing to say to reporters when questioned by reporters.

A key unknown in the case is where Smart's body is.

"Because if they have that, then there will be no question in the jury's mind that she is in fact dead, even though she has in my mind been legally declared dead," Cardoza said.

The sheriff's office said the search could take two days to complete. Details of the search warrant have been sealed.

In a statement, Smart's family said: "We are encouraged by the news of today’s search of Ruben Flores’ property. We appreciate the vigilance and professionalism of sheriff Ian Parkinson and his department, and our family looks forward to learning more in the hours and days ahead."