Hikers find Fox executive’s body two years after he vanished

Posted at 10:16 AM, Nov 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-06 12:16:43-05

LOS ANGELES – More than two years after Fox entertainment executive Gavin Smith vanished in Southern California, his body has been found, authorities said.

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.

Hikers found his body this week in a rural area of Palmdale, California, CNN affiliate KABC reported.

Authorities identified it Wednesday, according to Larry Dietz of the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.

Husband, father

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, the affiliate reported. He was nowhere to be found.

His distraught wife and three sons offered a $20,000 reward for information on his whereabouts, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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. He was not in it.

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, according to the affiliate.

Who had his car?

After his car was recovered, authorities considered his case a homicide even though his body had not been found, according to the affiliate.

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 years in prison on unrelated drug charges.

Two-and-a-half years later

Authorities say now that Smith’s body has been found, one key question about what happened to the Fox executive has been answered, but others remain.

How did he die? And if he was killed, what was the motive?

CNN’s Faith Karimi wrote and reported from Atlanta, and JR Nichols reported from Los Angeles. CNN’s Tina Burnside contributed to this report.