Authorities haven’t found Smart’s body, Parkinson said, but they have found forensic evidence that they “believe it is related to Kristin”.
The sheriff spoke to the family twice on Tuesday, he said.
“I think they are feeling a little relieved, but as you can imagine, this is not over until we bring Kristin back to them,” he told reporters. “We promised them that we would not stop until Kristen is rescued, whatever the reason, no matter what time, we are committed to it.
“It is impossible to put into words what this day means for our family. We pray that this is the first step in bringing our daughter home,” said the family. “While Kristin’s loving spirit will always live in our hearts, without her hugs, laughs and smiles our life is a heartache that never wears off.”
“We are delighted that Kristin’s case has now been moved to the prosecutor’s office, where we know we are in good hands, and look forward to the day when there will be ‘justice’ for Kristin,” they said.
The two suspects were sent to the San Luis Obispo County Jail, according to online inmate files.
Paul Flores, 44, has been charged with murder, records show. There is no deposit listed. Ruben Flores, 80, has been booked for an additional fee and is being held on bail of $ 250,000.
The couple are expected to face charges Thursday, although the elder Flores is eligible on bail. CNN reached out to lawyers for both men.
Robert Sanger, an attorney representing Paul Flores, was previously reached by phone and said he would not comment on “pending cases”.
Authorities raided Ruben Flores’ home in Arroyo Grande last month. Flores’ son Paul has remained the prime suspect in the decade-long missing person case.
Smart disappeared on May 25, 1996. She was last seen near her Cal Polytechnic dormitory in San Luis Obispo, police said after walking home from a party. Smart was pronounced dead in 2002.
Last year investigators ransacked Paul Flores’ home and said they found “interesting items” on the property.
At the time, Flores was arrested at his home in San Pedro, California, and released back after the search, said Tony Cipolla, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.
Officials said Paul Flores was the last to see Smart on May 25, 1996.
Smart disappeared after she and other students went home from a fraternity party.
She was last seen near her dormitory, police said, but she never made it to her room. Friends and family never heard from her again, authorities said.
She had no ID, money or extra clothes when she disappeared, police said.
A massive search and repeated interviews with a college student who went with her that night brought no breaks, and Smart was pronounced dead in 2002.
In 2016, after there was evidence that her body had been buried on campus, the FBI flew three corpse dogs from its training facility in Quantico, Virginia, and investigators dug part of the mound near where the school’s trademark was “P” embedded is available
Last year the sheriff’s office announced it was working on the case and provided a list of its efforts since 2011 when the current government took over, including: conducting 18 searches in nine locations; Submission of 37 pieces of evidence for DNA testing; Recovery of “140 new pieces of evidence”; and conducting 91 interviews.
CNN’s Stella Chan and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.