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Fox film executive declared dead two years later; body never found

Drug TraffickingCrime
Gavin Smith, missing Fox executive, is declared dead
Sheriff's detective on missing Fox executive Gavin Smith: 'We have 'physical evidence of his death'

Though missing Fox executive Gavin Smith's body has never been found since he disappeared two years ago, a Los Angeles County sheriff's detective says they have "physical evidence of his death."

Sheriff's officials said a public death certificate has been issued for Smith dated May 1, 2012 -- the same day he was last seen leaving a friend's home in Ventura County's Oak Park neighborhood.

Wearing purple athletic pants belonging to one of his sons, Smith drove away in his Mercedes, leaving behind a cellphone charger, shaving kit and other items.

In the months after Smith was last seen, officials insisted the case remained a missing person investigation. But then last year, investigators recovered Smith's car from a Simi Valley storage facility, and they declared a jailed convicted drug dealer as a person of interest in what they termed a murder.

In the two years since Smith vanished, detectives say they have significant evidence that he was killed, but the case remained unresolved.

"We have physical evidence of his death," Bill McSweeney, sheriff's chief of the detective bureau, said Thursday. Smith's body, though, has never been found, he said.

After the car was found last year, sheriff's Lt. Dave Dolson said, the condition of the vehicle along with statements from witnesses indicated Smith, who worked in Fox's movie distribution department, had been killed. 

Authorities said they believed the former UCLA basketball player was killed the same night he vanished and have issued a public death certificate for Smith dated May 1, 2012.

The storage unit where the car was found was later linked to a man named John Creech.

Creech is serving an eight-year jail term for drug-related offenses and has not spoken to detectives. His wife, though, said he her husband had a "relationship" with Smith, whom he met in rehab.

Creech was picked up by Glendale police in a February 2010 drug bust, when he allegedly sold bricks of cocaine to a man whose car contained more than 2,500 oxycodone tablets. He has since pleaded no contest to one count of selling and transporting cocaine.

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