STOCKTON, CA - Their daughter has been missing for more than 15 years, and is presumed dead, but the Smarts of Stockton are encouraged that a positive outcome is coming in their case.
Kristin Smart disappeared at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo as her freshman year was finishing up. The last person to be seen with her, a fellow student, was identified as a person of interest. However, no arrest was ever made and Smart has never been found.
PHOTOS: Kristin Smart
With potential evidence being re-examined by a Caifornia Department of Justice lab in Southern California, Denise and Stan Smart hope that changes soon.
"Cautiously optimistic, because we've been up and down so many times. We are very happy with the sheriff right now and the line of communication is open. That itself gives us hope," said Denise Smart.
Part of their optimism comes from increased communication with San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson, who made it a priority to have the case get a closer look.
"What they said to us is we need one piece of evidence that Kristin was in that room (Cal Poly dorm room), and we can move forward," said Denise.
"I guess my approach on this was: Let's start over. Let's treat this as if we just went to the crime scene. From every single item collected in this case, we have a number of potential leads," said Parkinson.
Denise Smart said even if the new lab work doesn't reveal the evidence necessary to produce an arrest, she's hoping someone who knows something will soon talk.
"These kids were 18 at the time, and now they're 33. They may have children, they may understand the loss we've endured and maybe at this point, they come forward," said Denise.
The Kristin Smart case did lead to one positive change. Publicly funded institutions in California are now required to report potentially serious campus crimes to local police departments. Campus police at Cal Poly were criticized for not treating the Smart case as a possible crime, and potential evidence was lost when school officials allowed student dorms to be cleaned.
Newer investigative and crime-fighting tools
Other unresolved missing person cases
Help find missing persons
By Tim Daly, firstname.lastname@example.org