Gavin Smith, a 57-year-old film distribution executive for
20th Century Fox, was last seen on the night of May 1, 2012,
driving in his black Mercedes Benz away from a friend's house in
Oak Park, northwest of Los Angeles.
His disappearance made national headlines and prompted the film
studio to issue a statement expressing concern.
"A death certificate was issued," Los Angeles County Sheriff's
Department Deputy Quiana Birkbeck said on Thursday. She declined
to comment further.
Another sheriff's deputy, who declined to be named, said he did
not believe Smith's body had been recovered and said the
investigation was ongoing.
Smith was also known for playing on UCLA's 1975 national
championship basketball team. After he disappeared, Smith's
family posted a $20,000 reward for information and, along with
authorities, pleaded with the public for help.
The discovery of Smith's Mercedes inside a storage facility in
February 2013 was thought to have been a break in the case.
The facility was linked to John Creech, a man who was imprisoned
in a Los Angeles County jail on an unrelated narcotics
Creech, who was considered a "person of interest" in the case,
was not charged in the disappearance, the sheriff's department
said, adding that Smith had met Creech's wife in rehab in 2009.
It was unclear the extent of Smith's relationship to her
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle;
editing by Catherine
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