By Elisabeth Smith

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Paul Flores, the only person of interest in the disappearance of Stockton’s Kristin Smart, has been arrested on a weapons charge.

The arrest in Southern California is not directly connected to her case, but investigators do say it’s based on what they uncovered in last year’s search warrant served at his San Pedro home.

READ MORE: Stimulus Check Latest: When Could You See Another Economic Relief Payment?

The 44-year-old was arrested in Rancho Palos Verdes on a felony weapons charge.

Witnesses say Flores was the last person to see 19-year-old Smart on May 25, 1996, when she returned to the Cal Poly campus from a party.  She was seen with Flores, who also was a student, but he has never been arrested or charged in the case.

Her remains have never been found.

The Smart family did not have a comment in regard to Flores’ arrest Thursday. Their attorney Jim Murphy believes this weapons charge could be a catalyst to getting answers and justice after 24 years.

More from CBS Sacramento:

READ MORE: Third Stimulus Check: Why Your Next Relief Payment May Not Be $1,400

Murphy has a renewed sense of determination after learning Flores was hauled away in handcuffs.

“He’s a very dangerous individual,” Murphy said. “I’m thrilled to see him get arrested.”

Murphy says the family was not informed of anything police found in their investigation.

Flores has faced several lawsuits from Smart’s parents over the years, but he was never arrested or officially named a suspect.

While Murphy admits there are still a lot of unknowns with this new development, he’s hopeful it could lead to charges in the Smart case. Charges that could provide her family with answers that have remained elusive for more than two decades.

“I’m hoping that it’s a first step in bringing this creep to justice,” Murphy said.

MORE NEWS: Police Warn Of Fake Jewelry Scammer Roaming Woodland, Yolo County

Flores is being held on a $35,000 bond. He’s expected to appear in court in the next few days.