Los Angeles Police have located the car of missing 20th Century Fox executive Gavin Smith and say the condition in which the car was found has prompted them to reclassify the case as a homicide investigation.
The car, a black 2000 Mercedes-Benz 420E was found at a storage facility in Simi Valley on Feb. 21, police announced today. The storage facility is connected to a convicted drug dealer named John Creech.
"We got a tip that led us to the discovery of the car in the storage facility," Los Angeles County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore told ABC News. "They [investigators] had an inkling that this was indeed a homicide, the condition of the car and eyewitness cooperation has lead investigators to believe Gavin Smith was murdered."
The Los Angeles County Sheriff Office has named John Creech a person of interest in the case. Creech is currently in jail on an unrelated narcotics conviction, according to a sheriff's office statement.
Smith's body has not yet been found.
Investigators told ABC News station KABC they believe Smith had some type of relationship with Creech's wife. "We don't want to get into his personal life, but there was a relationship with his wife, they met in rehab," said Lt. Dave Dolson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office.
"The homicide detectives are relatively sure they know exactly what happened, they are not going to talk about it until things become clearer," said Whitmore. There is no time frame for any possible arrest.
Smith, 57, a married father of three, disappeared in early May 2012 after leaving a friend's home in Ventura County's Oak Park neighborhood. There were reports he was possibly spotted dining with a female companion later that month.
The Smiths told ABC News that Gavin Smith's cell phone charger, shaving kit and other belongings were all at the friend's house where he was staying. He was last seen wearing purple workout pants that had belonged to his teenage son, which the family said was a sure sign he had no intention of going out anywhere in public.
Smith's wife, children and sister previously told ABC News that the former UCLA basketball star and movie executive would never abandon his family.
"He would never do anything like that," said Evan Smith, Gavin's eldest son and a star basketball player at USC. "He's a great father. My dad had no reason to leave, no reason at all."
Police have served between 25 and 30 search warrants in the case. Police also believe that there were other people involved in moving the car and body after the possible murder occurred, and are asking for the public for help identifying the people responsible for moving Smith's Mercedes from the Porter Ranch area to the storage facility around May 8 or 9.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.
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