LOS ANGELES  – Authorities announced Thursday that the disappearance of Fox film executive Gavin Smith is being investigated as a homicide, although his body has not been found.

The 57-year-old former UCLA basketball player hasn’t been seen since leaving a female friend’s home off Kanan Road in eastern Ventura County between 9 and 10 p.m. on May 1, 2012, in his black, 2000-model Mercedes-Benz 420 E, authorities said.

Sheriff’s Lt. Dave Dolson said Smith’s Mercedes was recovered on Feb. 21 at a storage facility in Simi Valley.

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

Last June, a SWAT team and detectives raided a West Hills home owned by Creech. The Los Angeles Times reported afterward that it had obtained documents that indicated sheriff’s deputies felt an unspecified felony related to Smith’s disappearance may have occurred there.

Smith had reportedly met Creech’s wife, Chandrika Creech, in some sort of rehab therapy, according to the newspaper.

Dolson said today that after detectives found Smith’s car, they served several search warrants in the San Fernando Valley “in furtherance of the investigation.”

“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,” Dolson said.

“Detectives are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the person or persons involved in moving Gavin’s car from the Porter Ranch area in the San Fernando Valley to the storage facility in the Simi Valley on or about May 8 or 9, 2012,” Dolson said.

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