Paul Flores was charged with the murder of Kristin Smart back in April. Last week a judge unsealed court documents about the case and the information contained therein is pretty horrifying.
It looks like Paul may have been a serial rapist since as far back as the late 90s. (Kristin disappeared in 1996.) TWENTY-NINE women have accused him of “sexual misconduct” and general creepy behavior. Four of those women have said he drugged and raped them. One of them said she told Paul he was hurting her, but he wouldn’t stop and forced a ball gag into her mouth. When the police searched his home they found rape-themed pornography and homemade videos of Paul having sex with different women who appeared to be drifting in and out of consciousness.
Paul’s father, Ruben Flores, is believed to have buried Kristin’s remains under his deck, then later moved them. Police found a patch of disturbed soil there with traces of blood, though they couldn’t get DNA. A man who rented a room from Ruben said Ruben had spoken about the case and referred to Kristin as a “dirty slut.” I guess we know where Paul gets his attitude from.
Yeah, the circumstances are all starting to add up.
And I keep thinking that if the police hadn’t dropped the ball in 1996, perhaps all those women would not have been victimized by Paul Flores in his later years.
This week’s featured missing person is Christopher Alan Temple, a 17-year-old high school senior who disappeared while camping with four friends in a campground in the woods in Bath Township, Michigan on April 22, 1990. His friends said he just walked away from the campsite in the night and never returned.
The Charley Project says the only sign ever located was one of his shoes, found about 300 yards from the campsite over a year after his disappearance. However, the Case Remains site says Christopher’s other shoe was found nearby a few weeks after the first, along with “handfuls of long, strawberry blond hair, enough to fill two 8 x 10 envelopes.” It wasn’t Christopher’s hair, which was brown.
The police initially thought it might be a runaway case, or just ran into some misadventure in the swampy woods surrounding the campsite. But it’s come out that Christopher sold weed and sometimes shorted customers, so there’s a theory that an unhappy customer went after him.
There hasn’t been much about this in the news since it happened, and it’s been over 30 years now. Christopher’s father is deceased; I’m not sure about other family members. I’m sure they’d like to know what happened to him, or at least where he is.
As this article notes, 15-year-old Wendy Eaton disappeared from Media, Pennsylvania on May 17, 1975, 46 years ago today. She was walking away from her home, towards the downtown area, when she vanished. Dogs tracked her scent to an intersection, then lost the trail, suggesting a car picked her up.
There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of evidence as to what happened to her (though the article does provide a clothing description I hadn’t had previously). If she’s still alive, Wendy would be 61 today, turning 62 on the 26th. Sadly I think she’s still fifteen.
This week’s featured missing person is Mercedes Zaevon Toliver, an eighteen-year-old black girl who left her Prescott, Arkansas home after an argument at around midnight on December 17, 2016. She was never seen again.
There doesn’t seem to be much out there to suggest might have happened to her. I do think it’s unlikely she left on her own, though, since she didn’t take anything other than her phone and $20, and since she was a responsible young woman who was planning to join the Air Force. I wonder if someone grabbed her while she was walking to her aunt’s house.
Mercedes’s nickname is Cede. I’m not sure if it’s pronounced “Say-dee” like the “cede” in her full name. She’d be about 23 if still alive.
This week’s featured missing person is Josie Taylor Meadows, an eighteen-year-old girl who was last seen in Huntsville, Ohio on March 2, 2017. There are very few details available in her disappearance, or about Josie herself. I know she might need medication “for unspecified reasons” and she was once arrested for underage drinking. And that’s about it.
I hope Josie is still alive. She is 23 years old now if she is. It’s been four years now and I wonder why there has been no news about it.
More info has come out since the recent arrests of Paul and Ruben Flores for Kristin Smart‘s 1996 disappearance and presumed murder. Paul has been charged with murder and his dad, Ruben, as an accessory: authorities believe he helped hide Kristin’s body.
Now the police are saying that the Floreses buried Kristin’s remains in Ruben’s yard, but “recently” moved them to another location. And furthermore, that Paul is a serial rapist and “dozens” of women have come forward about his “sexual assaults and predatory behavior.”
None of this is terribly surprising to me. I don’t think it would surprise anyone who’s followed this case over the years.
If Paul had just confessed to Kristin’s murder at the time, owned up and apologized and taken some kind of plea bargain, he might very well be out of prison by now.
Honestly I despise him for torturing the Smart family over the past 25 years, as much as I do for Kristin’s killing. I don’t think there is any worse pain you can cause a family, than make their child disappear without a trace and never be found. At least my parents know where my two dead brothers are. At least they had a chance to bury them properly, and can visit their graves, and know they’re not scared or sad or suffering.
Well, it’s about time: Paul Flores has been charged with murder in the 1996 disappearance of Kristen Denise Smart. They were both students at Cal Poly when she went missing and she was last seen in his company on campus. He’s been a suspect pretty much ever since. Paul’s father, Ruben, has been charged with being an accessory to the murder.
It’s been a quarter-century. I had thought this would never happen, unless they found Kristen’s body. As far as I know, they haven’t. I don’t know whether they just decided there was some time, or if some other evidence came up, or what.
I would think the Smart family would have mixed feelings about this day — justice will be done, but their daughter isn’t coming back and it’s official now.
I often interact with the people who comment on stuff I post on the Charley Project’s Facebook page; I consider it my duty, as the admin of that page, to do so, and also I usually enjoy discussing things with them. We are, after all, talking about items of mutual interest. But sometimes people just… argh.
I put up an article recently written about the Bianca Noel Piper case (the article was of the “we’re still looking for” variety, nothing new), and immediately a bunch of commenters started saying awful things about her mother for making her go on that walk back to their house so she could chill out and deal with her anger. One of them even accused the mother of “abandoning” Bianca.
Well, here are the facts:
- The walk was about a mile. That’s not very far. It may seem like a long way since everyone is accustomed to driving these days, but a person Bianca’s size and age can walk a mile in ten or fifteen minutes.
- It was a rural area, not a big city.
- Bianca’s mother cooperated fully with the investigation and is not a suspect in her case.
- Bianca’s mother, by making her go for a walk, was following the advice of Bianca’s therapist, and they had tried the walking treatment before and it had been helpful. Loads of people go for a walk alone to cool down when they’re angry, and it’s a commonly recommended method of anger management.
I’m sure Bianca’s mother has regretted what she did every day of her life in the past sixteen years. But I do not think she did anything wrong here. She was following medical advice and the advice given sounds perfectly reasonable to me. I think Bianca was just very unlucky. And certainly casting judgment on her mom at this late date is not going to help at all.
Bianca was tall for her age, and heavy. I think that in the evening light, from a distance, she would have looked more like a woman than a child. My guess is some predator driving by saw her walking alone and grabbed her. Wrong place, wrong time.
I also grew up in a rural area and in the late nineties, as a young girl Bianca’s age, or younger, would often wander around by myself on foot or bicycle, sometimes traveling up to fifteen miles from home. It did me no harm and in fact I benefited from it. I got exercise and fresh air and learned how to amuse myself. It bothers me a lot that so much judgment is heaped on parents these days that it seems like they are expected to swaddle their youngsters in cottonwool until they graduate high school — and then people wonder why young college-age adults have no idea how to take care of themselves.
So this podcast series, “Through the Cracks: The Untold Story of Mbuyisa Makhubo” came out in 2016, but I didn’t discover it until a few days ago. I really wanted to tell everyone because it’s an awesome series, four episodes, great journalism, very thorough, telling a fascinating story about a missing person.
Mbuyisa Makhubo was a very ordinary teenage boy living in Soweto, South Africa in the 1970s when he became world-famous by accident. Basically, what happened was that a 1976 youth protest against the brutal apartheid regime got out of hand and the police opened fire on the crowd, killing a twelve-year-old boy named Hector Pieterson (and a lot of other people). Mbuyisa was the one who picked up Hector after he was shot and carried him to a nearby car — a photojournalist’s — to take him to the hospital. The journalist’s photos of Mbuyisa, running with a dying Hector in his arms and Hector’s screaming, hysterical sister running next to him, were displayed in newspapers across the world. You might have seen the images yourself; they’re still famous.
The result was that Mbuyisa (who hadn’t even been attending the protest, he just happened to live on that street) became a target of South African security forces. Afraid for his life, he had to flee the country. He got a scholarship to attend a school in Nigeria, but couldn’t adjust, began deteriorating physically and mentally, and ended up on drugs and living on the streets of Lagos. Sometime in 1978, he disappeared, and his family in South Africa never heard from him again.
Then he may have resurfaced, thirty years later, alive and well in a Canadian jail. Or maybe he didn’t.
From there the story just keeps getting stranger and stranger and more and more complicated. I don’t want to say anything more for fear of spoiling things, but I wound up listening to the whole podcast in one streak, ruminating on it for hours and puzzling it over with my friends afterwards.
So yeah, listen to it.
This week’s featured missing person is Sarah Lee Murray, a 14-year-old girl who disappeared from Kenbridge, Virginia on February 18, 1997. She had been living with a relative at the time of her disappearance; her mother had died a year and a half earlier. The police, at the time, thought Sarah had run away, and perhaps she did. But it’s been over 20 years, almost 25, and that’s a long time for someone to be under the radar. There is little evidence to support any theory.
If still alive, Sarah (also known as Susana) would be 38 years old today.