SIMI VALLEY (CBSLA.com) — Homicide detectives announced Thursday they have taken over the case of a missing Fox executive after his car was found found in Ventura County.
A tip led Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detectives to Gavin Smith’s Mercedes Benz, which was found at a Simi Valley storage facility on Feb. 21.
“Based upon the condition of the vehicle and information we have now gleaned from cooperating witnesses, we are calling this case a homicide,” LASD Lt. Dave Dolson told KNX 1070′s Pete Demetriou. “We believe that Gavin is dead. His body hasn’t been recovered yet.”
The storage facility has been linked to Canoga Park resident John Creech, who is currently in custody at the Men’s Central Jail on an unrelated narcotics conviction, authorities said.
According to an E! News report, Creech’s wife, Chandrika, and Smith were involved in a romantic relationship after meeting in therapy in 2008.
Smith, the 57-year-old former UCLA basketball player, was last seen leaving a friend’s house in Oak Park between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. on May 1, 2012 in his black 2000 Mercedes E 420.
Smith’s family has offered $20,000 for information that will lead to his whereabouts. They also established the web page FindGavinSmith.com. The last entry was on May 17 announcing that a weekend search had been called off.
Homicide detectives are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying anyone involved in moving the car to the storage facility in the Simi Valley area on or about May 8 and 9, 2012.
Smith’s widow, Lisa, declined to speak to the media Thursday. She released the following statement: “The family of Gavin Smith is grateful to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for its unending work on his disappearance. We are both saddened and heartened by the discovery of this crucial evidence, and know that the Sheriff’s Department will help us acquire a measure of justice.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323)890-5500.