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Police say they have motive for alleged killing of Gavin Smith

Investigators have identified a possible motive in the alleged killing of Fox executive Gavin Smith, sheriff's officials said, but declined to elaborate further because of the ongoing investigation.

On Thursday, authorities announced a major development in Smith's mysterious disappearance. The Sheriff's Department said it had found Smith's Mercedes Benz last month at a Simi Valley storage facility linked to convicted drug dealer John Creech.

The condition of the car and other witness statements led authorities to conclude Smith had been killed. His body has not been found.

Sheriff's Lt. Dave Dolson told The Times that Smith was not believed to be involved in any drug transactions. They declined to disclose the nature of the relationship between Smith and Creech.

Officials have only said Smith and Chandrika Creech knew each other and met in rehab. When asked whether their relationship was romantic in nature, Dolson declined to comment.

"They knew each other," he said.

Chandrika Creech's husband, John Creech, has not spoken to investigators while serving time at Men's Central Jail for a drug conviction from last year, Dolson said. But Chandrika Creech has spoken with investigators on many occasions, he said.

Dolson declined to say what information Chandrika Creech has provided.

Investigators have "a good idea" of a motive, Dolson said, "but we're not going to discuss it."

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.

Numerous searches of the area were conducted after Smith disappeared and his family posted a $20,000 reward.

Authorities said they have served 25 to 30 search warrants in connection with Smith's disappearance, including searches of the home and vehicle belonging to Creech, who was identified Thursday as a "person of interest."

Sheriff's officials would not elaborate on the details of the warrants served, including what they were looking for and from whom. But officials previously told The Times that a June 2012 search of Creech's West Hills home was connected to the Smith case.

Investigators left the home, in the 8600 block of Santa Susana Place, with boxes, a computer and a black Audi SUV, but no arrests were made.

The cover pages of a sealed search warrant affidavit said detectives had probable cause to believe that an unspecified felony had been committed at the residence.

Daniel Teola, an attorney for the Creeches, said that was the second time in a month that deputies had searched the house, but he refused to provide any details.

In January, investigators searched Creech's Hummer, which was found outside a marijuana grow house in Granada Hills. Officials said authorities have been looking for the Hummer since the search of Creech's home and believe it may be tied to Smith's disappearance.

In an interview with a Times reporter at the time of his sentencing on an unrelated drug charge, 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."

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— Richard Winton, Andrew Blankstein and Kate Mather

 
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