SALINAS, Calif. (KRON) — The last person seen with Kristin Smart before she vanished on Cal Poly’s campus in 1996 was one of her fellow students, Paul Flores. Campus police zeroed-in on Flores and learned that his nickname around the dorm halls was “Chester the Molester.”
Police interrogations with Flores, as well as hundreds of other court documents from the Kristin Smart murder investigation, were released at the same time that Flores is on trial.
The trial’s presiding judge unsealed court documents from a 26-year-long murder investigation that have never previously been made public.
Monterey County Judge Jennifer O’Keefe made her ruling three-weeks into the trial in response to a public records act request filed by multiple news outlets. The judge agreed to finally unseal the documents because Flores’ jury had already been sworn-in and barred from reading any media coverage about the case until after they reach a verdict.
Flores murdered 19-year-old Smart when he attempted to rape her in his dorm room on May 25, 1996, prosecutors told the jury. Earlier that night, Smart and Flores attended the same off-campus party. Students said Smart went by the name “Roxy” and was flirtatious at the party. One party-goer testified that he suspects that someone slipped a date rape drug into Smart’s drink because of her behavior.
Prosecutors said Flores used date rape drugs to rape three women who he met at bars within the past decade. The alleged victims are slated to testify for the Smart murder trial.
After Smart passed out face-down outside the party house, Flores was one of three students who helped walk Smart back to campus because she was “incapacitated,” unable to even stand on her own, Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle said.
“Chester the Molester”
Cal Poly campus police and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office interrogated Flores on May 28 and May 30, 1996.
Flores told investigators, “I did not find Kristin attractive. Not at all. I had zero interest in her,” according to prosecutors.
Detective Mike Kennedy asked Flores if he had any nicknames at Cal Poly, and said, “The phrase that we heard was ‘Chester the Molester,'” unsealed court documents state.
“What? No. Nah-uh,” Flores replied.
“Nobody’s ever called you that? You’ve never heard ‘Chester the Molester?'” Kennedy asked.
“Never,” Flores replied.
“Well, OK. It’s very important that you realize how important this investigation is. (Are you) grasping this? This is very serious business with a missing woman. She hasn’t surfaced. You’re the last person that saw her,” Kennedy said.
“Yeah. Yeah, that’s serious,” Flores replied.
“We’ve interviewed 25 men. They describe Roxy or Kristin as a rather promiscuous individual,” Kennedy said. “So now here we have — look at this from our point of view for a moment — here we have somebody that has a nickname of ‘Chester the Molester.’ And he’s last seen walking up the hill with a woman that is very promiscuous. We have this massively promiscuous individual and you’re claiming that there was nothing that went on,” Kennedy said.
“Absolutely nothing. No kiss,” Flores answered. “Just the hugs when she was saying she was freezing.”
“Did you find … Roxy attractive?” the detective asked.
“Nah-uh. She was drunk. She was taller than me. Like if someone’s promiscuous I don’t find them attractive,” Flores replied.
The detective asked, “How would you describe her behavior?”
“Kinda like over-flirtatious I guess. Even if the girl wanted me, I wouldn’t,” Flores said.
Students told investigators that Flores’ nickname stemmed from his creepy and overly-aggressive behavior toward female students. Flores told investigators that he parted ways with Smart just before they reached their dorm halls. He returned to his room, alone, to take a shower, Flores claimed.
Cheryl Anderson, a student who walked with Smart and Flores from the party back to campus, testified last week that she saw Flores leading Smart toward his dorm, Santa Lucia Hall, not Smart’s dorm, Muir Hall. Anderson testified that she was “creeped out” by Flores because he tried to kiss her before she parted from the group, but, “I didn’t think anything horrible was going to happen,” to Smart.
Flores told police that he only knew Smart as “Roxy,” did not find the 6-foot-tall blonde woman attractive. But Smart’s friends told police otherwise. One friend said, “Paul would try to get Kristin’s attention and she was too nice to tell him off,” prosecutor Peurvelle said.
Peuvrelle said law enforcement officers knew Flores was “lying through his teeth” because of inconsistencies in his story. “The detective noticed Paul was nervous and his heart was beating out of his chest,” the prosecutor said.
Kennedy was called to the witness stand on Monday and testified about his interrogations with Flores. Kennedy told the jury that he noticed Flores had a black eye. Flores said he got the black eye while playing basketball with friends, Kennedy testified.
“She’s At My Mom’s House”
Derrick Tse, Flores’ roommate in Santa Lucia Hall, was out of town the weekend Smart vanished. Prosecutors said Flores knew he had three days to get rid of Smart’s body before his roommate returned from Oakland.
When Tse heard that Smart “went missing,” he joked with Flores and said, “You probably did something with her,” Tse testified.
Flores replied, “Yeah, she’s at my mom’s house right now,” Tse testified last week.
Flores’ mother and father lived in separate houses in Arroyo Grande, about 11 miles south of Cal Poly. His father, Ruben Flores, is also on trial and accused of burying Smart’s body in his home’s backyard. The father and son’s trials are happening simultaneously, however, they have separate defense attorneys and separate juries.
A popular true crime podcast, Your Own Backyard, renewed attention into Smart’s disappearance after the case went cold. Journalist Chris Lambert dedicated several episodes of his podcast tracing evidence into whether Smart’s body could have been buried in Ruben Flores’ home’s backyard, or in a backyard where Susan Flores, Paul Flores’ mother, lived.
Peuvrelle told the juries that investigators found a “burial site” in Ruben Flores’ backyard in 2021 and they suspect that the Flores family moved Smart’s body not long before a search warrant was served on their home. Paul Flores, 45, and Ruben Flores, 81, were both arrested shortly after the empty grave was found.
For the first three weeks of testimony from witnesses, cross-examinations from defense attorneys have focused on what Smart was wearing and how she behaved at the party.
“Kristin was engaged in at-risk behavior. It was problematic. Her friends said she was likely to get in a car with a guy and go off. She had a history of going off with men, including older men,” defense attorney Robert Sanger told jurors. Sanger noted that Smart wore “short shorts” to the party.
Sanger and defense attorney Harold Mesick emphasized that Smart’s body has never been found and no one knows what really happened to her.
Smart’s disappearance set off massive search efforts in San Luis Obispo with help from thousands of volunteers.
Peuvrelle told jurors, “While the entire community banded together to search for Kristin desperately, Paul and Ruben did not. Ruben tore down missing posters of Kristin showing her smiling beautiful face (and) called her a ‘dirty slut,’ all while her corpse was decomposing under his deck.”
The trial continued on Monday with testimony from Tim Davis. Davis was one of the students who helped Smart walk from the party partially back to her dorm, but he peeled off from the group to return to the party. The trial is slated to last through October.