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Kristin Smart’s Family Keeping Hope Alive 22 Years after Her Disappearance

STOCKTON -- It's been 22 years since Kristin Smart disappeared.

"It was 22 years ago this Memorial Day that we got our last call from Kristin," her mom, Denise Smart, told FOX40. "So it was three days later that we got an SOS call from the Cal Poly Police Department -- do we know where our daughter is?"

Kristin was a 19-year-old freshman at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, a determined young woman from Stockton with her whole life ahead of her.

"She was a dreamer. She had expectations. She was going to be a millionaire. She was going to be an architect. She was going to be Joan Lunden. She was going to travel the world. She had a very adventurous spirit," Smart said.

But that life was cut short when Kristin went missing from campus.

Her friends said they dropped her off at a fraternity party on Friday night.

"The story is that she had been drinking and she was sitting outside on the grass and Paul and Tim offered to walk her home," Smart said.

Kristin never made it back to her dorm, and the last person to see her alive was Cal Poly student Paul Flores.

"Paul Flores is without question the perpetrator to this crime," Smart said.

Two days later, Flores turned himself into police for driving under the influence -- sporting a black eye in his booking photo. His story of how he got that black eye would change several times over the next few months.

"I believe (Flores) took her life," Smart told FOX40. "She did not walk away and go kill herself. She did not walk away and lose her life. She did not walk away and dig herself a grave. She was kidnapped."

Twenty-two years later, Flores is still the only suspect in Kristin's disappearance but detectives have never found enough evidence to make an arrest. In fact, the only time investigators brought Flores in for a deposition, he was less than

invoked his Fifth Amendment right for every question -- refusing to help detectives figure out what happened to Kristin.

"It's probably the most painful thing to know that someone is walking on the earth and harboring that information. Callous and mean and insensitive are not even strong enough words," Kristin's mother said.

In 2002, Kristin's family had her declared dead but detectives have never let her case go cold.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office says they have investigated every tip they've gotten for the past two decades.

"Until every stone is unturned, there's more to do," Smart said.

Kristin's family says they have never lost hope that they will one day be able to bring their daughter home to Stockton again.

"Whether it's DNA or it's someone who at last has a conscience and comes forward and tells the real story and helps us solve this," Smart said. "We won't give up."