Published March 14, 2013
Police believe a Fox movie executive and former UCLA basketball player missing for nearly a year was murdered after his car turned up last month in a storage unit linked to a convicted drug dealer.
Gavin Smith, 57, of West Hills, disappeared May 1 after driving away from a friend's Ventura County home in his black Mercedes-Benz.
Police announced Thursday that they found Smith's vehicle Feb. 21 in a Simi Valley storage unit connected to John Creech, who is in jail on an unrelated drug conviction.
"The condition of the car and other evidence leads police to believe Gavin Smith was murdered," Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff, told FoxNews.com.
Smith's body has not been found. Whitmore said Creech, 39, is a "person of interest" in the homicide investigation.
Smith's wife, Lisa, told the Los Angeles Times Thursday that she and her three sons are devastated by the development.
"My sons and I are devastated and this has been the hardest 10 and a half months of our life -- being without him," Lisa Smith told the newspaper. "We love him dearly. He's the love of my life and the father of my children and he is gone. It's a tragedy."
Authorities told Fox affiliate KTTV that they believe Smith was killed before his vehicle was transported to the storage unit. Investigators are reportedly searching for two white males who they believe transported the vehicle from Porter Ranch to the storage facility on May 8 or 9, one week after Smith was last seen.
Investigators have declined to comment on a possible motive.
Smith and Creech's wife, Chadrika, were said to be having an affair at the time of his disappearance, according to multiple local reports. The Los Angeles Times had previously reported that the two met while in therapy.
Last June, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies, including a SWAT team and homicide detectives, raided the gated West Hills home of the Creech family, looking for clues in their investigation. Authorities seized boxes, a computer and a black SUV belonging to John Creech, who reportedly told police he had never met Smith.
Smith worked in the movie industry for 18 years and helped distribute blockbuster hits such as "Avatar" and the "Star Wars" trilogy. The executive, who is 6 feet, 6 inches tall, was also a member of UCLA's 1975 national championship men's basketball team. His oldest son, Evan, is a forward for USC men's basketball team.
FoxNews.com's Cristina Corbin contributed to this report.