Missing Fox executive Gavin Smith's car found; homicide suspected
Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators now believe missing Fox executive Gavin Smith was killed after finding his vehicle in a Simi Valley storage facility connected to a convicted drug dealer last month, officials said.
After finding the Mercedes Benz on Feb. 21 in a facility linked to John Creech, who remains jailed for his drug conviction, investigators served "several search warrants" in the San Fernando Valley as part of their investigation, sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said.
"Based on the vehicle’s condition and information developed from persons cooperating in the investigation," Smith's disappearance is now being investigated as a homicide, a sheriff's statement said. It had been publicly characterized as a missing persons case.
No body has been recovered, Whitmore said.
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.
Authorities have served multiple search warrants in the case, including searches of Creech's home and Hummer.
The connection between Creech and Smith is unclear. John Creech's wife, Chandrika Creech, met Smith in therapy, according to a person familiar with the case who did not want to be named because the investigation is ongoing.
In an interview with a Times reporter at an unrelated court hearing, John Creech said he had never met Smith.
When asked why his property was searched, he said: "I would love to tell you but I can't. I am told I cannot make any comments."
Volunteers and authorities conducted numerous searches, but found no sign of Smith.
— Richard Winton, Andrew Blankstein and Kate Mather
Photo: Fox executive Gavin Smith, who has been missing since May 1. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department