UPDATE: September 9, 2016 at 3:53 p.m.
Items of interest found at multiple Cal Poly dig sites were being studied by investigators looking into the disappearance of missing college student Kristin Smart.
The case is 20 years old, but recently revived with new information that led the FBI and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office to the hillside area surrounding the Cal Poly 'P'.
The Sheriff's Office said Friday that items were found at all three sites being excavated. Because the case is an ongoing criminal investigation, details related to the items found are not being shared at this time.
The FBI was scheduled to wrap up its involvement at some point late Friday.
Kristin Smart's father and mother say they are encouraged by the new developments and have renewed hopes regarding the return of their daughter.
"We are mindful that with or without the hoped for results from this weeks efforts, we are now on a path that will bring our family peace and comfort," the family's statement read.
The Smart Family said it is grateful for Sheriff Parkinson and the San Luis Obispo community at large for their on-going support.
UPDATE: September 8, 2016 at 1:47 p.m.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office said Thursday that "items of interest" at the first excavation site have been found as crews dig looking for the remains of missing Cal Poly student Kristin Smart.
"We are not disclosing what those items are at this point," Sheriff's Spokesperson Tony Cipolla said in an email to KCBX. "They are being analyzed to see if they are related to this investigation."
Cipolla said that ultimately it will be up to the Sheriff as to whether information regarding these items will be released to the public "because we have a criminal investigation that is ongoing and the Sheriff does not want to jeopardize that case."
The FBI and Sheriff's investigators were excavating the second of three sites on Thursday with work expected to continue through Friday.
UPDATE: September 7, 2016 at 5:10 p.m.
The FBI began excavations today on a hill behind Cal Poly in search of the remains of missing Cal Poly student Kristin Smart.
The two dozen or so FBI workers dug around the "P" landmark with shovels and hoes in 80-degree heat on the Cal Poly campus. An excavator and other heavy equipment were also digging deeply into the hill.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office says it gathered information over the past two years indicating her body may be buried on campus. Specialized dogs from the FBI scanned the hill in January and detected three sites that may be of interest to the investigation.
“So what’s going on here on the hilltop behind us is excavating out those areas where they felt there may be areas of some human remains," said FBI Special Teams Director Tom Brenneis. He said if they find any significant evidence, they will then begin a more detailed investigation into this area.
“We’re literally sorting through 20,000 cubic tons of dirt on each of the three sites," Brenneis said. "If we find human remains, then we focus in. It gets down to be more of an archeological dig."
Brenneis said it could go a lot of different ways if they find human remains, and it could take a while depending on what they find.
ORIGINAL STORY: The FBI and the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s department are digging near the "P" Landmark on the hill behind the Cal Poly campus to determine whether or not Kristin Smart’s remains are buried there. Smart was a Cal Poly student who disappeared in May 1996.
Tony Cipolla from the sheriff’s department said the search for Smart’s remains is expected to last until Friday--but may be longer if anything substantial is found.
“This has never been a cold case for the sheriff’s office. This has always been an open investigation for the past 20 years,” Cipolla said. “We will not give up until Kristin is found.”
Over the past two years, the department had developed a lead that her body may be buried near the "P" landmark.
“We have an investigator here at the sheriff’s office who has been working on this almost full-time for the past couple of years. And they were able to develop a lead,” Cipolla said.
Detection dogs from the FBI searched near the "P" in January and they indicated several areas where human remains may be.
The area was initially searched during early investigations in 1996 but now it is being searched with more site-specific tools meant for searching for remains as opposed to a missing live person. The sheriff’s department says they are also looking at several other locations but are not planning on disclosing those to the public.
Paul Flores, another student at Cal Poly at the time, remains a person of interest in the case. Flores was the last known person to see Smart alive. She was 19 at the time when she went missing while walking back from a party at a fraternity 20 years ago. She was declared legally dead in 2002.