LOS ANGELES—She remembers being dragged down Elm Street as she vomited, propped up by a young man and his pal who snickered and cursed her.
“They were giggling as they were dragging me,” the now 39-year-old woman told The Daily Beast. “I was throwing up and they were saying ‘Oh this bitch!’ and ‘This bitch better not throw up on me.’”
The woman, whom we’ll call Jane, believes she was roofied, raped, and discarded by Paul Flores and his nameless friend when she was a 15-year-old high-school sophomore in 1994.
Just two years later Flores was named as the sole suspect in the disappearance of another woman under almost identical circumstances: Kristin Smart. Flores claimed he walked Smart to her dorm at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo on May 25, 1996 after a night of binge drinking. Despite Flores sporting a black eye the next day (which he admitted to investigators he lied about) and despite police dogs picking up the scent of human decay in his dorm room, Flores was never charged.
Instead, Flores and his family were sued in 2002 by the Smarts in civil court for “intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon the parents of Kristin Smart by taking the body of Kristin Smart and secreting and/or destroying the body… in a hidden place in the County of San Luis Obispo.” The Flores family countersued for “emotional distress.” Both suits were shelved by a judge until Smart’s remains are found. A now-retired FBI agent believes those remains were once buried at the home of Flores’s mother.
When The Daily Beast tracked Flores down outside his home last month, he didn’t mount much of a defense.
“No-no-no. I’m good,” he said in response to questions about Smart’s disappearance.
“I’m fine. I’m good. Have a good day,” he said.
Meanwhile, three other women told The Daily Beast that Flores sexually assaulted them after Jane’s assault and Smart’s disappearance. At least one, since The Daily Beast began reporting, said she has been interviewed by the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office. (The office hired a detective in 2015 to work on “Unsolved Crimes” for $15,000 a month: There are four open homicide investigations and Smart’s remains an unsolved missing persons case.)
A sheriff office’s spokesman said his agency couldn’t say if investigators working Smart’s cold case had been made aware or not of the new alleged victims, citing refusal to comment on an “open and active investigation.”
But he entreated each woman who came forward to tell their story to The Daily Beast to reach out to his department.
Since speaking with The Daily Beast, at least one of the women who has come forward saying Flores attacked her has been questioned by a detective working the Smart case.
“We would highly recommend that those people get in contact with us as soon as possible so we could investigate this further,” he said. “It might be helpful to the investigation.”
Had Flores been caught and convicted of his alleged sexual assault in 1994, perhaps Smart would still be alive. And had law enforcement drilled a handful of holes in Flores’s mother’s backyard to search for evidence that Smart might be buried there, perhaps Flores’s alleged serial sexual assaults would have been prevented.
“They left me there and knock on my mom’s door really hard and then ran off,” Jane, who is telling her story for first time, said. “My mom opened the door and she cries, ‘Oh my God!’
“I told her ‘Mom, he raped me.’”
Jane said she took Flores up on carpool offers to and from high school whenever she would be walking solo from her mother’s home in Arroyo Grande, California.
“That’s how we met—I was walking and he pulled over and said to me ‘Hey, I’ll take you to school,’” she remembered Flores asking her. “We both were kids at the same school and so I felt comfortable.
“It wasn’t like some older guy or anything.”
Back then, Jane remembered Flores pulling up to her on multiple occasions behind the wheel of a green pickup truck.
She never saw accepting the rides as anything but wholesome.
“It was never like ‘Hey you want to go hookup?’ He never made advances and he would just say ‘Hi’ at school.”
One day, Jane was congregating in front of the high school when a male friend approached and warned her about one particular junior.
“This boy walked up to me and said ‘Oh hey, you need to be careful of that Paul Flores, I think he’s stalking you. He was writing your name like 150 times on a piece of paper and he kept circling it.’
“High school boys are weird anyway,” Jane thought at the time. “So maybe he had a crush on me. I wasn’t freaked out.”
But soon Flores took his shot with Jane after another drop-off at her mom’s house.
He returned later that Friday night and they drove to his friend’s home which Jane described as sparely furnished. “The living room had a TV and one sofa and the floor was white,” she said.
The duplex was located up the same street from where her mom resided.
It was just the three of them standing in the kitchen before Jane was handed a plastic cup.
“I drank this drink and I don’t know what it was but let me tell you something the next thing you know I was passed out,” Jane said.
And for a few moments Jane came to and saw Flores having his way with her.
“I was lying down on my back. He’s on top of me. I know I didn’t have any pants on and he was in me and I could feel him,” she said of the three seconds she managed to wake from the slumber that took hold of her. “He was staring at my face looking at me and he was enjoying himself.”
After that she blacked out.
The only thing that she remembered next was being dragged in the barely lit street by her alleged rapist on one arm and his pal on the other.
“They took off running,” Jane said. “I remember thinking: ‘If my mom’s not home I’m going to die right here.’”
Jane’s mother frantically phoned her father. When he arrived she stayed at home while Jane’s father hightailed it to Arroyo Grande Community Hospital.
Once Jane was admitted her story seemed to fall on deaf ears.
The Arroyo Grande cops, Jane said, favored Flores’s story that she willingly drank and had sex that night.
“The next thing I know is the cops telling me ‘We can’t do anything because [Paul] and his friend are saying she was drunk and it was consensual.’”
But Jane said she fought to get them to reconsider. “I was like ‘It wasn’t. I blacked out and didn’t consent to anything.’”
However hard she and her father fought back, there was no chance they were going to get beyond the “he said, she said.” “I was drunk and he had a witness and I didn’t,” Jane said.
Multiple attempts to reach Flores and his parents to comment on the new accusations were unsuccessful. The family attorney refused to comment when reached by The Daily Beast.
When approached about Jane’s rape claim, an Arroyo Grande Police Department administrator said in an email that their search “revealed no such records exist; therefore, there are no responsive documents.” Before their findings, another administrator told The Daily Beast on the phone that because the matter was a sexual assault case it fell under a “non-disclosure” category and therefore they wouldn’t be providing any specific information about it.
Meanwhile, the FBI, who recently excavated earth at Cal Poly to look for Smart’s remains, referred comment to the sheriff’s office.
Jane said she kept this secret for years—even from her husband. “I don’t like to talk about it to even him,” she said. “I don’t like to talk about that day.”
Two years later Smart would go missing and when suspicion quickly fell on Flores, Jane decided then and there that she may have been one of the lucky ones.
“I remember being home watching the news about Kristin Smart and there goes Paul,” she recalled. “And it all came back to me.
“I was like ‘Oh my God. That could have been me.’”
Paul Flores was a constant presence during Sarah’s time at Cal Poly, where she transferred in as a sophomore back in 1996, after Smart’s disappearance shook the school and the community.
He apparently would tag along with a sloshed friend, crashing off-campus parties together wherever she was.
Often, Sarah would be at one party or another and there was Flores.
“I would turn around and he would be right there lurking,” the woman, referred to here by a pseudonym, said. “He would be stalking me.”
At a Halloween party back in 1995—before Smart had gone missing—Flores allegedly grabbed Sarah’s crotch on the dance floor.
“He grabbed me down there and while I’m yelling at him my girlfriend threw a piece of gum at his face and he pushes her down.”
At this point every male at the party joined in to “jump” Flores, who fled, she said, adding, “Boom, he disappeared.”
That same year, Sarah said, Flores pursued her again at a friend’s birthday party. “I get into the bathroom and try to lock it and then the door gets kicked open.”
It was not more than “five seconds” before Sarah said Flores crashed opened the door and stood in the frame. “I remember thinking he was right behind me in the doorway and I think he was trying to get to the door before I could shut it.”
Sarah said she was quickly manhandled by Flores. “He slammed me and then pushed me up against the inside wall by the toilet, his hands were on my upper arms and he started telling me all these sick things he was going to do to me.”
Flores spit that he would “rape” her, she said.
But Sarah kneed Flores in the groin and kicked him in the shin before dashing off into the party.
“That’s when everyone got involved,” she said.
By this point Sarah’s ex-boyfriend arrived and he and his friends scared Flores and his pal, trying to make sure they never showed their faces again.
“I got in his face,” the ex-boyfriend, who requested anonymity, told The Daily Beast. “I told him, ‘You never do this again! You never look at her again! If you come near her again I will kill you!’”
His buddy “pushed Paul real hard and he fell through a desk” before he “ran for his life.”
Neither the ex-boyfriend nor Sarah saw Flores again until they read The Daily Beast story on Kristin Smart’s disappearance, where Flores’s mugshot appeared.
“I never realized it’s the same guy that harassed [Sarah],” he said.
Sarah said she’s still haunted by Flores.
“Still to this day I am afraid to go to the bathroom by myself in public places,” she said, admitting she still asks her husband every time to stand sentry at the door when she has to go. “I have this PTSD fear of someone kicking the door in.”
The accusations didn’t stop with classmates: Flores allegedly couldn’t restrain himself around his own kin.
One female cousin called Flores a pervert.
“Me, my sister, my cousin—Paul has no limits,” she said, requesting anonymity.
During a camping trip in Fresno, California, in the early 1990s, Flores’s female cousins playfully swiped and hid his wallet while walking en route to a liquor store to purchase slush puppies.
Flores wasn’t amused.
“Paul had this look on his face,” the relative said. “He threw [my cousin] to the ground and got on top of her and putting his hands down her top even after he got his wallet. He had pinned her down and had his hand down her bathing suit groping her.”
A woman nearby screamed at Flores to “get off her” and threatened to call the cops, she said.
In 2002, after getting kicked out of Cal Poly, rejected by the Navy, and flipping burgers, Flores matriculated at LA Harbor Community College.
One late night at a Hermosa Beach bar Flores courted a 21-year-old student whom we’ll call Laura. Eventually they moved in together along with a male roommate in a two-bedroom apartment in nearby Lawndale.
Laura said Flores worked a construction job while attending school but that he was “very secretive” and she suspected he was in “college forever so that his mommy kept paying for his housing and classes.”
That would be Susan Flores, the owner of the home where Flores is suspected to have buried Smart.
“He was seeing someone on the side who he called his friend,” she said. “He would tiptoe around everything. I believed him but he was probably cheating on me.”
And there were those nonstop tales of Flores being touchy-feely with her friends.
She regretfully denounced them as cruel rumors at the time. “I would hear many of my friends tell me ‘Oh he grabbed my butt’ but I never believed them,” Laura said. “I always said, ‘He wouldn’t do that.’
Sexually, Laura paints Paul Flores as “very experienced” and maintaining a very “healthy appetite.”
Sometimes it wasn’t so healthy.
“It would get too aggressive and at times I had to say, ‘Hey, calm down.’”
Laura says that one time they were wrestling in bed and Flores “got too aggressive and grabbed a butter knife and pushed it against my face.”
She says she kept pleading for him to settle down. “I said, ‘Stop it. Stop!’ and then it became ‘Stop!!!!!’”
She was saved by their male roommate, who barged in because of Laura’s blood-curdling screams.
“Our roommate came in and yelled ‘Leave her alone. Get off her.’”
Still she stuck around until Flores allegedly laid his hands on her aggressively again.
“We were standing by the washer and dryer and we were arguing and he shouted, ‘No!’ and slapped my arm,” Laura said. “I was like, ‘Who the hell do you think you are?’”
After they broke up, Laura did a little sleuthing and discovered her ex-boyfriend was accused in Smart’s vanishing. The moment still haunts her.
“My heart dropped,” she said. “I called my mom. I was crying.”
Stan and Denise Smart, Kristin’s parents, sent The Daily Beast a statement praising the women for coming forward to share their stories and hope it leads to a break in their missing daughter’s case.
“These new allegations against Paul Flores are very troubling and deserve to be thoroughly investigated. We are grateful to these brave women for having the courage to talk about their experiences and we ask anyone who may have information they think could be helpful to contact the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office. Any tidbit of information or recollection could make the difference in the recovery of our beloved Kristin.”