A special team of individuals were granted permission to enter the adjacent yard next to the Flores home located on East Branch Street in Arroyo Grande, California. The team was there to extract soil and air samples from the area near the rear left corner of the Flores backyard.
In 2014, soil samples were extracted but came back from the laboratory as a weak positive for human remains. This evidence just wasn’t good enough for Sheriff Ian S. Parkinson. The fact that BUSTER the renowned grave detection dog alerted several times along the perimeter of the fence surrounding the Flores home didn’t make any difference to the sheriff either.
So, in February 2020, a former Cal Poly student took in a team to not only retrieve soil samples, but also use a method of retrieving air samples also. A machine much like a vacuum cleaner has the hose nozzle buried, usually from two to four feet below the earth’s surface, then begins to suck in air over a two day period. The air is captured and concentrated. The suction is strong enough to pull in vapors from an area 100 feet in diameter.
The air and soil samples were sent to a laboratory specifically able to produce accurate data. Then the data needed to be analyzed. One of the few people able to professionally analyze the data was Dr. Arpad Vass. Dr. Vass received an “non disclosure agreement” (NDA) which basically said that if he disclosed his determinations of the date, he could be sued.
Dr. Vass said that in all the years he has been helping people find missing people, he had never received a request to sign an NDA. Dr. Vass apparently refused to sign the NDA.
And, that’s where we are today. The samples were believed sent to a laboratory to be scientifically analyzed, but that is where the information dies out. We don’t know if the samples were analyzed and what the determination was. We don’t know if Sheriff Ian S. Parkinson received the analysis.
At the same time the team was in the backyard of the adjacent home, the FBI was knocking on the front door of four home related to the Flores family… Ruben’s home on White Court in Arroyo Grande, Susan’s home on East Branch Street, Paul’s home in San Pedro and the home where Paul’s sister (Ermalinda Flores) lives in Washington State.
Rumor has is that Ermalinda’s ex-husband told Sheriff Parkinson’s office that one of the vehicles that could have been used to transport Kristin’s body off the Cal Poly campus, was still available. Sheriff investigators went to retrieve the truck. Then, it’s believed, the sheriff conjured up a plan to catch the Flores family discussing the matter.
In a rare release of information, the Sheriff’s office put out a press release that both vehicles, Paul’s and Ruben’s had been retrieved and were now in the hands of the sheriff’s office, presumably for tests to see if either one or both had been used to transport Kristin’s body.
A few days after the release of the information, investigators from the sheriff’s office and Special Agents of the FBI fanned out and precisely knocked on the door of all four residences at exactly 7 am in the morning. All computers and other devices used to communicate were confiscated from analysis by law enforcement authorities.
What information the sheriff was able to retrieve from the electronic equipment is unknown. We used to believe that Sheriff Ian S. Parkinson was either inept or corrupt. We no longer believe the sheriff is either inept or corrupt. We believe that Ian S. Parkinson has always known that Kristin’s body was and is buried in the rear left corner of the Flores home.
If the Sheriff were to dig up Kristin’s body, the political pressure for him to arrest Paul Flores, and for the DA file charges would be enormous. The evidence that Kristin is dead and that her body was in a concrete grave in the back of the Flores home would be incontrovertible. But, proving that Paul Flores killed Kristin as another story.
The sheriff feels that he simply does not have enough evidence to convict Paul Flores, and doesn’t want to stand there as Paul Flores walks out of the courtroom a free man. Of course, we ask, what the hell is the difference… he’s a free man now and has been for a quarter century.
Even with all the circumstantial evidence that Paul Flores was involved in the death of Kristin Smart, it still would not be good enough for a California jury. California is different.
Recall that on July 1, 2015, 32-year-old Kate Steinle was shot in the back at approximately 6:30 pm by José Inez García Zárate, while walking with her father and a friend along Pier 14 in the Embarcadero. Then the jury found Jose Zarate not guilty. The point is, there is a very high bar to obtain a conviction of murder in California.
It’s better to let a criminal go free, than to convict an innocent man of murder. The bar to achieve a conviction is high for a reason.
What the recent soil and air samples disclosed is unknown. We are fairly confident that if taken properly, the samples are more evidence that Kristin’s body is indeed in the area around the rear left corner of the home at 529 E. Branch Street.
What is known is that May 25, 2020, will mark 24 years since Kristin Smart attended Swampy Fell’s birthday party off campus and disappeared. And, we also know that Paul Flores remains a free man and the Smart family still have no closure.