Gavin Smith had relationship with drug dealer's wife, police say
Missing Fox movie executive Gavin Smith had a relationship with the wife of a convicted drug dealer who is now a person of interest in Smith’s disappearance, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials say.
Smith, 57, has been missing since May 2012. At a press conference Thursday, Lt. Dave Dolson said Smith had a relationship with Chandrika Creech, the wife of John Creech, who is serving eight years in Los Angeles County’s Men’s Central Jail.
Smith and Chandrika Creech apparently met in rehab. Sheriff’s officials would not comment on the nature of their relationship and said only that Creech’s husband is a person of interest in Smith’s disappearance. John Creech has not spoken with detectives.
Authorities now believe Smith was murdered. Investigators found Smith’s Mercedes-Benz last month in a Simi Valley storage facility. Officials said evidence found inside the car, along with witness statements, lead them to believe Smith is dead.
No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing, a department official said Friday.Chandrika Creech has spoken to investigations on many occasions, Dolson said. He declined to say what information she provided.
In the months after Smith was last seen, officials insisted the case remained a missing-person investigation, even as Creech’s home and vehicle were searched.
Smith, a former UCLA basketball player who worked in Fox's movie distribution department, left a friend's home in Ventura County's Oak Park neighborhood the night of May 1. Wearing purple athletic pants belonging to one of his sons, Smith drove away in his Mercedes, leaving behind his cellphone charger, shaving kit and other items.
Dolson said investigators received a tip leading them to the storage facility where Smith’s car was recovered. The locker wasn’t registered to Creech, Dolson said, but to someone close to him.
John Creech has not spoken to detectives while at Men's Central Jail for the drug conviction, Dolson said. Creech was picked up by Glendale police in a February 2010 drug bust, when he sold bricks of cocaine to a man whose car contained more than 2,500 oxycodone tablets. Subsequent searches of Creech’s home and business yielded drugs, cash and other items.
Creech later admitted to police that he was a middle-man between drug producers and lower-level street dealers, and pleaded no contest last year to one count of selling and transporting cocaine.
In January, his Hummer was found at a marijuana grow house in Granada Hills. Authorities searched the vehicle in connection with the Smith case, one of more than two dozen search warrants served in the investigation. Creech’s West Hills home was also searched at least twice.
Dolson said officials do not think that Smith was involved in any drug transactions.
Investigators believe Smith had already been killed by the time his Mercedes-Benz was moved from Porter Ranch to the storage facility about a week after his disappearance, but have not said why the car was in Porter Ranch.
Detectives are also trying to piece together how it got to the storage locker, and have asked the public for help in identifying anyone who might have been involved.
Smith’s wife, Lisa, told The Times she and her three sons were “devastated” by news that detectives believe her husband was killed, but it confirmed their worst suspicions.
“Truly, truly this is what my sons and I thought happened all along,” she said in a tearful phone call. “For the rest of the world to know that he didn't leave us is huge. He would have never done that. We knew from the get-go that something horrible had happened because he just wouldn't do this.”
Lisa Smith said she's hopeful that detectives will find out “exactly what happened” to her husband and “bring it to justice.”
-- Andrew Blankstein, Richard Winton, Kate Mather and Daniel Miller