LOS ANGELES (AP) – The remains of a 20th Century Fox executive who disappeared more than two years ago were found in a desert area of Southern California, authorities said Thursday.
Gavin Smith, 57, was last seen May 1, 2012, in Ventura County’s Oak Park neighborhood after leaving a friend’s home, and his disappearance was investigated as a murder.
Hikers discovered the remains near Palmdale in Antelope Valley Oct. 26, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
Results of an autopsy were not finalized.
Smith was with Fox’s movie distribution department for nearly 18 years and was a branch manager for several theaters.
Lt. Dave Dolson said investigators were optimistic about the information they had in the ongoing case.
“We believe we know what happened” and why, he said without elaboration.
Dolson said the remains were found in an area where investigators believed they would be located. A previous search was unsuccessful.
Authorities said earlier they found Smith’s Mercedes-Benz at a Simi Valley storage facility, and its condition along with witness statements led them to believe Smith was killed.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation said Thursday the car contained blood and body tissue, including skin stuck to a seat.
The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the case and spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The storage facility was linked to John Creech, a man who was serving an eight-year prison sentence for sales or transport of narcotics, Dolson said last year. Creech was named a person of interest but was not charged with Smith’s killing.
Dolson said then Smith had “some kind of relationship” with Creech’s wife, Chandrika, after meeting her in rehab several years previously. Dolson declined to provide details.