Authorities say the body of missing 20th Century Fox distribution executive Gavin Smith has been found, 2 1/2 years after he went missing.
Smith’s body was found by hikers in a rural area near Palmdale on Sunday morning, said Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Diane Hecht. Autopsy results have not been finalized, and the cause of death has not been determined, she said.
Smith’s body was found in the Angeles National Forest, an apparent victim of murder, Fox 11 reported.
Smith was last seen between 9 and 10 p.m. on May 1, 2012, leaving a female friend’s home off Kanan Road in eastern Ventura County in his black 2000-model Mercedes-Benz 420 E.
Smith was ruled dead on May 1, the two-year anniversary of his disappearance. He had played basketball at UCLA in the 1970s and was 57 yearsold when he disappeared.
Smith’s Mercedes was recovered on Feb. 21, 2013, at a storage facility in Simi Valley.
The storage facility was linked to John Creech, who was in custody at the Men’s Central Jail on an unrelated narcotics conviction when the search took place, sheriff’s Lt. Dave Dolson said at the time. Creech is now serving an 8-year sentence.
In June 2012, detectives and a SWAT team raided a West Hills home owned by Creech. The Los Angeles Times later reported that it had obtained documents indicating sheriff’s deputies felt an unspecified felony related to Smith’s disappearance may have occurred there.
Smith met Creech’s wife, Chandrika Creech, in some sort of rehab therapy, according to the newspaper, which reported that Creech has denied knowing Smith, despite his wife saying otherwise.
Bill McSweeney, chief of the Sheriff’s Detective Bureau, told the Times on May 1 that investigators “have physical evidence” of Smith’s death.
Dolson said last year that after detectives found Smith’s car, they served several search warrants in the San Fernando Valley and began investigating the death as a homicide “based on the vehicle’s condition and information developed from persons cooperating in the investigation … “