Hiker finds remains of Fox executive missing for 2 years

Gavin Smith, an executive at 20th Century Fox, went missing on May 1, 2012.

By Gabrielle Levy

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Authorities have positively identified the remains of Gavin Smith, the 20th Century Fox executive who went missing more than two years ago.

Hikers found his body in a rural area of Palmdale in the Angeles National Forest, on Oct. 26, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida.


The autopsy has not been finalized, but Los Angeles police have long suspected foul play.

Smith was last seen leaving a female friend's home on May 1, 2012. After numerous searches of the area and a $20,000 reward offered by his family, a tip in February 2013 led them to a storage locker where they found Smith's Mercedes-Benz.

They found "physical evidence of his death" in the car, and the storage locker led them to James Creech, who was already serving an eight-year sentence for an unrelated drug conviction.

Police said they have "a good idea" of the motive in Smith's murder. Creech told reporters before his 2012 sentencing for one count of selling and transporting cocaine that he had never met Smith, but police said Smith and Creech's wife had met in rehab. They declined to say if the relationship had become romantic.


Creech has been named a person of interest, but not been charged with Smith's murder.

Smith, 57, was an 18-year veteran of the film industry and helped distribute hits such as Avatar and the Star Wars trilogy. In college, a 6-foot-6 Smith played on UCLA's 1975 champion national basketball team for legendary coach John Wooden.

He was declared legally dead on May 1, 2013, and in May of this year, his death was ruled a homicide in the absence of a body, based on evidence found.

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