SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — FBI agents sifted through dirt Wednesday at an excavation site on the edge of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where they hope to find remains of a student who vanished in 1996.

The work was being done on a hillside west of the giant letter “P” that marks the campus in the coastal region midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

About 10 agents in blue FBI shirts, hats and masks examined loads of dirt dug up by heavy equipment and transported to an inspection site, The Tribune of San Luis Obispo reported (http://bit.ly/2ci8UZ1 ).

Kristin Smart, 19, of Stockton, was last seen in the early morning of May 25, 1996, while returning to her dorm after an off-campus party.

At the time, another student told authorities he left Smart near her dormitory after they and another female student walked back to Cal Poly.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson told reporters Tuesday that the excavation near a parking lot was being revealed because of the site’s high visibility. It was one of several locations identified in January by dogs specially trained in detecting the scent of very old human remains.

“We’re also focused on other locations, however we’re not disclosing those locations at this time because I’m hopeful that this will lead to the finding of Kristin or evidence that will bring closure to the family and ultimately to the community,” Parkinson said.

The excavation was prompted by a lead developed through a comprehensive review of the entire case, which has been under investigation for more than 20 years and has involved other searches, the sheriff said.

The male student who told of leaving Smart near her dorm was investigated, but he was never arrested or charged. That man remains a person of interest, the sheriff said.

VIAThe Associated Press
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