Fox exec Gavin Smith’s killing ordered by one, carried out by others, cops say

Multiple people are believed to have been involved in the death of Gavin Smith, the 20th Century Fox executive who went missing for two years, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation.

The manner in which Smith died hasn’t been determined, but he was likely killed at the direction of an individual and with the assistance of others experienced in violent crime, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to publicly discuss the case.

Los Angeles County coroner’s officials said Thursday that they may never determine how Smith was killed or how his remains turned up in the desert outside Palmdale.

“It could be months, if ever, worst-case scenario,” coroner’s Lt. David Smith said.


Sources told The Times that the hikers who came across the remains on Oct. 26 found a shallow grave, some bones and a skull.

Authorities planned to discuss the discovery at a news conference later Thursday.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced Wednesday that authorities had determined that the remains were those of Smith, 57. The Fox executive had not been seen since May 1, 2012. He was legally declared dead on May 1, 2014.

He was last seen leaving a female friend’s house in Ventura County. Numerous searches of the area 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 that authorities said was linked to John Creech, who had received an eight-year prison sentence for an unrelated drug conviction.

At the time, Sheriff’s Department officials said the condition of the vehicle and witness statements indicated that Smith had been killed. They said they had “a good idea” concerning a motive in the case, but 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 two knew each other, but he declined to comment on whether the relationship was romantic.

Creech, who was arrested 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 that Smith was involved with drugs.

Staff writers Ryan Parker and Adolfo Flores contributed to this report.

Follow the reporters on Twitter: @LAcrimes and @JosephSerna