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CALIFORNIA

No solid leads in film exec's disappearance

Authorities stress they have no evidence of foul play regarding Gavin Smith.

May 11, 2012|Kate Mather and Andrew Blankstein
  • Gavin Smith, an executive at 20th Century Fox, inexplicably missed a school pickup for his teenage son. That was on May 1, and since then authorities and family members have been unable to locate him.
Gavin Smith, an executive at 20th Century Fox, inexplicably missed a school…

On May 1, Gavin Smith disappeared.

After returning from a Las Vegas conference, the longtime 20th Century Fox executive -- who distributed such hits as "Titanic" and "Avatar" -- inexplicably missed a school pickup for his teenage son.

His Mercedes is missing along with him. His family and authorities have been unable to locate him either through cellphone records or credit card billings.

This week, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department intensified its search, but detectives said they have no solid leads.

"We're praying and hoping for the best," Smith's eldest son, Evan, said Thursday. "It's all in God's hands."

Authorities stressed that they have no evidence of foul play. "It's an adult missing-persons case, not a homicide," said Sheriff's Lt. Wes Sutton. "At this point, there's nothing criminal [related] to his disappearance."

Sutton said that information on Smith has been distributed within the Sheriff's Department and that his vehicle information has been included in a missing vehicles database should another police agency find it.

In addition, sheriff's officials have distributed fliers and reached out through the media for the public's help.

"We're getting lots of tips," Sutton said, but detectives still don't have any firm sense of what happened.

In interviews with media outlets this week, Smith's family provided some insight into the circumstances leading up to the night he vanished. Gavin Smith was staying with a friend near Ventura County's Oak Park neighborhood but drove away in his Mercedes between 9 and 10 p.m. without telling anyone -- another puzzling move, his family said.

Wearing a pair of purple athletic pants belonging to one of his sons, Smith left behind his cellphone charger, shaving kit and other items.

"That's what he was wearing, you know?" Evan Smith told "Good Morning America" in an interview. "It doesn't sound like he was going anywhere."

Smith's family said he hasn't gone to his Calabasas office since he disappeared. They declined to elaborate on why he was staying with the friend instead of at the family home in West Hills, but Evan Smith tweeted last month that his father had left the family.

"Thoughts and prayers out to my amazing Mom and bros plz," the USC basketball player wrote in an April 14 message. "My dad decided to leave the family last nite. Real family sticks together."

The tweet has since been deleted, but Evan Smith told E! News his parents were not separated.

"They were just going through normal stuff couples go through," he said.

Evan Smith told The Times his family was "devastated" by his father's disappearance but was "staying strong." They've created a website, findgavinsmith.com, to help coordinate search efforts.

Smith is 6 feet 6, weighs 210 pounds and has a goatee and gray hair streaked with blond. He was last seen in his black 2000 Mercedes 420-E with California license plate 6EKT044.

Investigators are asking that anyone with information call (323) 890-5500.

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kate.mather@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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