Drug dealer named person of interest in Gavin Smith disappearance
A convicted drug dealer has been named a person of interest in the investigation involving missing Fox executive Gavin Smith, sheriff's officials said.
Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. David Dolson told The Times that John Creech, who is currently being held at Men's Central Jail for an unrelated drug conviction from last year, is considered a person of interest after Smith's Mercedes-Benz was found Feb. 21 in a storage facility linked to Creech.
"John Creech is a person of interest and has been for several months," Dolson said.
Dolson said the condition of the vehicle and witness statements indicate that Smith was killed.
"At this time, the evidence leads us to believe he was murdered," Dolson said.
Smith's body has not been found. The 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, 2012. 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 found the Mercedes-Benz after receiving a tip, Dolson said.
Authorities have served 25 to 30 search warrants in the case, including Creech's home and Hummer, but the connection between Creech and Smith remains unclear. John Creech's wife, Chandrika Creech, met Smith in rehab, Dolson said.
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."
Search teams have combed the areas where Smith was last seen, and his family spread word of his disappearance online and on local movie screens. He was reportedly spotted at a Morro Bay restaurant in May, but Dolson later said it proved “not to be a credible sighting.”
Smith's family — wife Lisa and sons Evan, Austin and Dylan — have offered a $20,000 reward for information about Smith. In interviews, they declined to elaborate on why Smith was staying with the friend instead of at the family home in West Hills, but Evan Smith had previously tweeted that his father had left the family.At a June 5 news conference, Lisa Smith called her husband "the love of my life."
"It's imperative we find him," she said.
— Richard Winton, Andrew Blankstein and Kate Mather
Photo: Sheriff's officials search a West Hills home in June as part of their investigation into the disappearance of Fox executive Gavin Smith. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times