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Gavin Smith case: Drug deal not a likely factor, officials say

March 14, 2013 |  1:31 pm

A convicted drug dealer was publicly named a person of interest Thursday in the homicide investigation involving Fox executive Gavin Smith, but sheriff's officials said they did not believe Smith was involved in any drug transactions.

The relationship between Smith, who was last seen May 1, and John Creech remains unclear, and Sheriff's Lt. Dave Dolson declined to discuss the nature of the relationship between Smith and Creech's wife. Chandrika Creech met Smith in rehab, Dolson said.

Authorities said Thursday that Smith's car was found last month at a Simi Valley storage facility linked to John Creech. The case, which has been described as a missing persons investigation, is now being investigated as a homicide. Smith's body has not been found, but he is believed dead, officials said.

"The condition of the vehicle in conjunction with cooperating witness statements indicates he was killed," Dolson said. "At this time, the evidence leads us to believe he was murdered."

Authorities have served 25 to 30 search warrants in the case, including John Creech's home and Hummer.

John Creech remains in custody at Men's Central Jail following an unrelated drug conviction from last year. He was sentenced to eight years in county jail in September.

Creech was picked up by Glendale police in a February 2010 drug bust, when he sold bricks of cocaine to a man whose car also contained more than 2,500 oxycodone tablets, police said. Authorities searched Creech's business and home and found methamphetamine, 25 pounds of packaged marijuana, a digital money counter, a pay and owe ledger, and more than $75,000 in cash. He admitted to police that he is a middle-man between drug producers and lower-level street dealers.

He was charged with six drug felonies and pleaded no contest to one count of selling and transporting cocaine.

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

Several sentencing hearings were delayed during the Smith investigation.

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.

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— Richard Winton, Andrew Blankstein and Kate Mather
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