A WOMAN who Paul Flores chillingly confessed murdering Kristin Smart to in 1996 said she was left physically ill and terrified when the killer asked her to go “skinny dipping” with him just weeks later.
Jennifer Hudson, 44, told The U.S. Sun that she met Paul Flores in the backyard of a home in San Luis Obispo, California, in the summer of 1996 – not long after Kristin Smart vanished without a trace.
Jennifer had been watching her boyfriend skateboard when a public service plea from local police came over the radio, asking for anyone with information about Kristin’s whereabouts to come forward.
“That b**ch was a d**k tease and I got sick of her s**t,” Jennifer claims Flores said to her, adding that he said he either “buried her” or “put her under a skating ramp at his place in Huasna.”
So startled by Flores’ remarks, and even more disturbed by the deadened look in his eyes when he said it, Jennifer got up and left the party, ordering her boyfriend to come with her.
A few weeks would pass, yet Jennifer did not report Flores to the police, apparently worried he’d come after her next if he found out she’d said anything.
Then 17, Jennifer also lived in Huasna at the time and was frightened by the prospect of running into him alone.
But run into him she did, by chance, after she agreed to give a group of her neighbors a ride to a nearby private skate ramp.
“I drove my friends down to the main road and this white truck pulled up and they told me to follow it,” recounted Jennifer to The U.S. Sun.
“The truck started leading us down a dirt road, around half a mile from my house, and suddenly the white truck stopped and this group of guys jumped out with their skateboards.
“And then I looked up and I saw Paul. He was walking towards my car.”
‘I JUST VOMITED’
Jennifer had one foot in and one foot out of her truck when she recognized the man coming towards her to be Paul.
Then 19, Flores reportedly asked Jennifer, “do you want to go skinny dipping with me?”
The creepy invitation, in addition to the disturbing feeling she’d got from Flores during their first encounter, made Jennifer physically ill.
“I just vomited,” she said, “all over my car and all over my foot.
“I just got back in my car, shut the door, put that thing in reverse, and just bailed.”
The skate ramp where she had driven her friends to, Jennifer would realize, was the same ramp where Flores claimed to have buried Kristin’s body at the party just weeks earlier.
Both encounters she shared with Flores left her feeling petrified and paranoid.
Soon, Jennifer said she became consumed by fears that she could “be next.”
“[When he confessed to killing Kristin] His eyes were just empty; he had dead eyes,” claimed Jennifer.
“That’s what I remember the most, the expression on his face, and just how serious he was.
“I knew he wasn’t joking or lying; he was 1,000% serious.
“[And] I knew he’d done this to Kristin, and I thought to myself that if he did that to this girl who was older than me, in what was assumingly a well-populated campus area … what was he capable of doing to me.
“In my head, I wasn’t going to turn out like Kristin, I was not going to entice this monster to come after me by going to the police.
“I just wasn’t going to do it … because if I did and it wasn’t enough to arrest or charge him, 100% I would’ve been next, that’s what I was thinking.”
For six years, Jennifer didn’t tell a single soul about what she’d heard Flores say in the backyard of the home in San Luis Obispo.
But on a drunken night in 2002 with her close friend and roommate Justin Goodman, she decided to relieve herself of the burden that was still weighing heavy on her mind.
“We were both drunk, but somehow, or in some way, Paul Flores or Kristin Smart came up in conversation and I trusted Justin and I knew he was the guy I could tell anything to, and that he’d take it to the grave,” Jennifer recounted.
“So I told him about Paul, what he’d said and the way he’d said it. The conversation didn’t last longer than a pool game.
“I told him I was scared, and that’s why I hadn’t gone to the law, and I said I needed him to promise never to tell anyone and he said he would.
“We never spoke about it again,” she added. “He tried to ask me something the next day but I did a motion with my hands telling him to zip up his lips and he did.
“I didn’t tell anyone else anything for another 17 years.”
KRISTIN’S FINAL MOVEMENTS
Kristin Smart, 19, was last seen alive walking home from an off-campus frat party near Cal Poly Tech University on May 25, 1996, after a heavy night of drinking.
Flores had insisted on walking the drunk and unsteady teen home – alone – back to her dorm after she was found passed out on a lawn.
Witnesses, over the years, recounted seeing Flores “stalking” and “following” Smart around the party that evening.
He was also purportedly renowned for stalking and harassing women on campus – so much so that classmates commonly referred to him as “Chester the molester.”
Smart didn’t make it back to her dorm room and she was never seen again.
That b**ch was a d**k tease and I got sick of her s**t.
Paul Flores’ alleged remarks on killing Kristin Smart
However, police long held the theory that Flores murdered Smart during an attempted rape and later disposed of her body.
Kristin Smart wouldn’t be reported missing for another three days. It was a holiday weekend and her friends and roommate presumed she’d gone home to see her family, failing to notice anything untoward.
Almost as soon as the investigation began, Paul Flores was considered a potential suspect.
But years would pass without any leads or concrete evidence, and Kristin Smart’s family’s quest for justice would rumble on, fueled only by optimism and determination.
CONTRIBUTING TO THE ‘NIGHTMARE’
All the while, Jennifer remained silent, being quietly eaten away by the potentially crucial evidence she’d been keeping inside.
Though she says it wasn’t hard to not say anything to anyone – believing her life depended on staying quiet – it was hard to live with herself, knowing she was contributing to the Smart family’s pain, she says.
However, it wasn’t until the birth of her son a few years ago that the true magnitude of her inaction was realized.
“It wasn’t until I had my son, becoming a mother and growing another human inside me that I realized my next breath depends on his, and knowing that he’s safe,” she said.
“My next breath doesn’t happen if my son’s doesn’t happen, right?
“So when I gave birth to him, I spent so much time in the first days of his life trying to reconcile.
“In my head, I started picturing him as Kristin and how her parents must’ve been over the moon that they were bringing home this perfect little human,” Jennifer added through tears.
“Then just one day she was gone.”
Jennifer voiced admiration for the Smart family’s resolve and restraint, insisting she’d have “held someone at gunpoint” to find out information if her son went missing.
She said she knows she was responsible for their “suffering”, but she believes what Paul said to her would’ve never been enough on its own to convict him or charge him in Smart’s death.
“Paul is the catalyst, but I am also responsible for the nightmare that they’ve lived every day.
“And they’re still living because they still don’t have Kristin.”
‘EMOTIONAL TUG OF WAR’
Unbeknown to Jennifer, two years after she told Goodman about Flores’ remarks, he reported the tip to the FBI and a local blog tracking the investigation.
Goodman’s tip led to Jennifer receiving a phone call from Chris Lambert, the creator of the Your Own Backyard podcast, and San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s detective Clint Cole in 2019.
Jennifer, for the first time, recounted what Flores had told her to the police.
The following year, sheriff’s deputies conducted a search at a property in Huasna linked to Flores. Ground penetrating radar and a physical dig yielded no remains.
In her first conversation with Det. Cole, Jennifer says she confessed she “felt like a real piece of s**t” for not saying something sooner.
“Now I’m a mom I can’t imagine how these people have gotten out of bed every single day, living a parent’s worst nightmare.
“And I’m guilty of that. I did that to them.
“As maybe if I’d come forward straight away they might have found Kristin’s body at that skate ramp in Huasna.
“And it’s those ‘what ifs’ I struggle with now … it’s psychologically and emotionally a tug of war.
“If I had come forward sooner, could I have saved one minute, one hour, or one day of these poor people living a nightmare?
“That’s hard to think about.”
Paul Flores, 45, was finally arrested in April 2021, almost exactly 25 years after the disappearance of Smart, and charged with her murder.
He was first arrested on firearm charges in February 2021, and investigators conducted a search of his home.
The following month, a search warrant was actioned at the home of his father, Ruben Flores, and cadaver dogs and a ground-penetrating radar were deployed on the property.
Beneath the decking of the home, forensic archaeologists found a soil disturbance around the size of a casket and the presence of human blood in the soil, prosecutors said.
Then, that April, the Smart family filed a lawsuit against Ruben Flores, alleging that “under the cover of darkness” the father and unnamed accomplices moved Smart’s body from the home in 2020.
Paul Flores was eventually arrested at his home in San Pedro, California, on April 13, 2020. His father was taken into custody shortly after and charged as an accessory to murder.
Authorities revealed that they had linked two other sexual attacks on women in Los Angeles to Paul Flores.
The two women, who both claimed they were drugged, raped, and gagged by Flores, would later testify against him at trial.
Seeking to make amends with the Smarts, Jennifer testied against Paul Flores during his three-month murder trial.
Where once she had cowered in fear at the thought of Flores and how he might harm her, Jennifer said she relished staring him in the eyes on the witness stand – which were as “dead” as she remembered them being 26 years ago.
“It twisted my belly to see him again,” she said, “but my fear was extinct and I was no longer afraid of him.
“I made the decision that every time I wasn’t looking at his attorney, I’d stare at him.
“On some level it was it was vindicating to be able to sit up there and look him in his dead eyes and for him to have to sit there and listen in silence.”
Jennifer broke down on the witness stand on numerous occasions, with the emotional toll of the trial too much to bear at times.
However, her testimony, and testimony from countless other witnesses, persuaded a jury this month that Paul Flores did indeed murder Kristin Smart and later dispose of her body. He is now facing 25 years to life.
Paul’s father and alleged accomplice, Ruben, meanwhile, was acquitted of all charges in a separate trial.
Jennifer said she was “elated” by Paul’s verdict and being able to help bring the Smart family even a modicum of justice.
Though without Kristin’s body, she acknowledges, the investigation will never be over.
Asked what she’d do differently back in 1996 if given the chance, Jeniffer said she would’ve “gone to the cops and immediately buy a gun.”
“That way I could’ve protected myself [from Flores] and felt safe,” she said.
“That’s what I’d do different.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6525950/kristin-smart-paul-flores-skinny-dipping-verdict/ I threw up when Kristin Smart’s killer Paul Flores made skinny dipping proposal after confessing to her murder