Fox executive’s body found by hikers 2.5 years after he vanished

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Gavin Smith was last seen on the night of May 1, 2012 leaving a friend’s house in Oak Park. (Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)

Gavin Smith was last seen on the night of May 1, 2012 leaving a friend’s house in Oak Park. (Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

LOS ANGELES (CNN/PIX11) — A two-and-a-half-year search for a missing Fox executive that spanned Southern California has ended now that hikers have found the remains of Gavin Smith, who vanished from a friend’s home in 2012.

Smith was last seen the night of May 1,2012, leaving a friend’s house in Ventura County, north of Los Angeles. He did not say where he was going.

When he didn’t pick up one of his sons from school, a search ensued but 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.

Days turned into months, but there were no signs of the former UCLA basketball player.

That changed in February last year, when his black Mercedes was found at a storage facility in Simi Valley, northwest of Los Angeles. He was not in it.

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.

Hikers made a grisly discovery Oct. 26 that ultimately led to a significant break in the case.

The Los Angeles County Coroner on Wednesday identified those remains found in a rural area of Palmdale, Calif., as those of Smith, PIX11 affiliate KTLA reports.

In the months since Smith’s disappearance, authorities said there was mounting evidence that he had been killed.

After his car was found, authorities considered his case a homicide even though his body had not been found.

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.

Now that Smith’s body has been found, one key questions 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?

The investigation is ongoing.