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Police find missing Fox executive's Mercedes, launch homicide probe

LA County Sheriff's Department

Gavin Smith, 57, a 20th Century Fox distribution executive is shown in this undated photograph released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Smith has been missing since May 1, 2012.

The discovery of a Mercedes driven by a missing Fox executive when he disappeared 10 months ago has led police to reclassify the case as a homicide and link it to a drug dealer previously identified as a person of interest.

A black Mercedes Benz 420E registered to Gavin Smith was recovered at a storage facility in Simi Valley on Feb. 21, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced Thursday. Smith, 57, was last seen driving the car from a friend's home in the Oak Park area at the western end of Los Angeles on May 1 between 9 and 10 p.m.

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His body has not been recovered, according to the department.

"Based on the vehicle's condition and information developed from persons cooperating in the investigation, homicide detectives are now investigating this case as a homicide," detectives said Thursday in a statement.

The storage facility has been linked to John Creech, who is currently in custody at Men's Central Jail on an unrelated narcotics conviction, detectives said.

Creech was previously named a person of interest in the case and his home was searched on June 8, 2012. Creech has not been charged in Smith's disappearance.

Anyone with information about the case was asked to call homicide detectives.

"They specifically want to know if anybody saw this Mercedes Benz go from Porter Ranch to Simi Valley around May 8, May 9," department spokesman Steve Whitmore said.