LOS ANGELES — More than two years after Fox entertainment executive Gavin Smith vanished in Southern California, his body has been found, authorities said.
Hikers found his body this week in a shallow grave in Palmdale, according to Lt. Dave Dolson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“It’s a crucial piece of evidence,” Dolson said. “Because of the discovery of Gavin’s remains, there’s potentially a lot more evidence for us to process.”
Smith disappeared in May 2012 after leaving a friend’s house without saying where he was going.
His black Mercedes was recovered at a storage facility last year, but his whereabouts remained a mystery. Authorities identified his body Wednesday.
A break in the case
Dolson said police “have a pretty good picture” on what happened the night Smith disappeared.
Authorities believe they know how and why Smith was killed, but would not share that information just yet.
“We have witnesses that are paramount to the case,” Dolson said. “There was evidence in the car that indicated he was killed in the car.”
When asked if Smith’s remains showed signs of stabbing or strangulation, Dolson said, “There’s indications that there was some trauma.”
Dolson said police may not be able to determine the cause of death because the body had been missing for so long.
Authorities are not actively looking for anyone in the case, he said.
Smith, 57, was last seen when he left a friend’s house in Ventura County, north of Los Angeles.
When he didn’t pick up one of his sons from school, a search ensued. His distraught wife and three sons offered a $20,000 reward for information on his whereabouts.
Death certificate issued before body found
Days became months, but there were no signs of the former UCLA basketball player.
That changed in February last year, when his car was found at a storage facility in Simi Valley, northwest of Los Angeles.
In the months since his disappearance, authorities said there was mounting evidence that he had been killed.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officially declared him dead in May this year.
His death certificate was dated May 1, 2012, the same night he vanished. It was issued two years to the day he went missing.
Who had his car?
After his car was recovered, authorities considered his case a homicide even though his body had not been found.
The storage facility was rented by John Creech, who authorities said they wanted to talk to in connection with the case. He was sentenced to prison on unrelated drug charges.
Creech remains a “person of interest” in the case, Dolson said.