Authorities Dig on Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Campus for Body of Missing Student Kristin Smart, Last Seen in 1996

Two decades have passed since a warm May night when Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student Kristin Denise Smart vanished after an off-campus party.

Her disappearance sparked a massive manhunt, with searchers using helicopters, horses and an army of volunteers, and even ground-penetrating radar. She was never found and was presumed dead.

The cold case took a new twist Tuesday when the FBI and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department announced they were excavating at three sites on a hillside near the dormitories. The search is centered on the giant “P” in a hillside sign that stands for Cal Poly. Officials said they picked the locations based on the activities of human decomposition dogs.

“The campus was the last place Kristin was seen,” Sheriff Ian Parkinson said near the dig. “Due to its high visibility, we really decided it was best to go ahead and disclose why we are here…. We will not give up to find Kristin.”

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