Two years after Fox executive Gavin Smith mysteriously disappeared, the missing man has formally been declared dead, officials said.
Sheriff's officials said a public death certificate has been issued for Smith, dated May 1, 2012.
In the two years since Smith vanished, detectives had said they had 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.
Last year, when investigators recovered Smith's car from a Simi Valley storage facility, they declared a jailed convicted drug dealer as a person of interest in what they termed a murder.
Authorities said they believed the former UCLA basketball player was killed the same night he vanished.
The storage unit where the car was found was later linked to a man named John Creech.
Creech is currently 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's wife had talked with detectives, according to Lt. Dave Dolson.
Before his jailing, Creech told The Times he had never met Smith and knew nothing about his disappearance. More than two dozen search warrants have been served in connection with the case.
Smith, who worked in Fox's movie distribution department, was last seen leaving 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.
In the months after Smith was last seen, officials insisted the case remained a missing person investigation, even as Creech's home and vehicle were searched.
After the car was found last year, Dolson said, the condition of the vehicle along with statements from witnesses indicated Smith had been killed.
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.
Subsequent searches of Creech’s home and business yielded drugs, cash and other items, police said. Creech later admitted that he was a middle-man between drug producers and lower-level street dealers, and pleaded no contest to one count of selling and transporting cocaine.