Missing Fox executive's remains found by hikers in rural desert

Remains of Gavin Smith positively identified by Los Angeles County coroner's office

The remains of Gavin Smith, a 20th Century Fox distribution executive who disappeared more than two years ago, have been found and positively identified by the Los Angeles County coroner, authorities said late Wednesday.

Smith had not been seen since May 1, 2012. He was legally declared dead on May 1, 2014.

Smith's body was found Oct. 26 by hikers in a rural area of Palmdale in the High Desert, said Nicole Nishida, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

UPDATE: Missing Fox executive's cause of death will take months, if not more

Smith was 57 years old when he vanished. 

The manner and cause of death are pending, Nishida said. 

He was last seen leaving a female friend’s house in Ventura County. His Mercedes-Benz was found in February 2013 in a storage facility in Simi Valley.

Los Angeles police told The Times earlier this year that investigators “have physical evidence of his [Smith's] death."

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

In February 2013, following a tip, investigators found Smith’s car in a Simi Valley storage locker authorities said was linked to James Creech, who received an eight-year sentence for an unrelated drug conviction.

At the time the Sheriff’s Department said the condition of the vehicle and witness statements indicated Smith had been killed. Despite having “a good idea” of a motive, they declined to discuss it. Creech told a Times reporter at his sentencing that he had never met Smith. 

But deputies said there was some type of relationship between Smith and Creech’s wife, who met in rehab. Sheriff's Lt. Dave Dolson told the Times that the pair knew each other, but declined to comment on whether the relationship was romantic.

Creech, who was picked up by Glendale police in a drug bust, pleaded no contest in 2012 to one count of selling and transporting cocaine. He told police he was a middle man between drug producers and lower-level street dealers.

Authorities said they do not believe Smith was involved with drugs. 

Staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report. 

Follow Ryan Parker for breaking news at @theryanparker and on Facebook.




Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


10:52 p.m.: This story has been updated with more information about the Smith investigation.


This story was originally published at 10:43 p.m.