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Eleven days after 20th Century Fox distribution executive Gavin Smith disappeared, details are emerging about his life and activities in the days and weeks before he went missing.
Smith was last seen on the night of May 1 at a friend’s residence in Oak Park, an affluent Ventura County community. He departed from the property in his black Mercedes-Benz E420 sedan between 9 and 10 p.m., according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which is overseeing the case.
VIDEO: Gavin Smith Mystery: Family Seeks Answers in Disappearance of Fox Exec
The Smith family has created a website seeking information about Smith and has taken to Twitter and appeared on television news programs to appeal for information about his whereabouts. “The problem here is that time is of the essence in these things,” said Evan Smith, one of the Fox executive’s three sons, in a May 9 appearance on Inside Edition with his brothers. “My gut feeling is that he is out there, and we just have to go find him.”
On Twitter, Evan Smith, a USC basketball player, has implored the public for information and tweeted messages of devotion to his father, writing on May 9: “I’ll never give up hope. If I was lost he would never give up on me. Love you Dad.”
An 18-year veteran of Fox’s distribution department, Smith is the branch manager for theaters in Dallas and Oklahoma City. In his Fox post, Smith serves as a liaison between the studio and theaters, making sure films get to their destination. He works out of the company’s Calabasas office in the southwestern San Fernando Valley, not far from his residence in West Hills.
Family members have said that Smith was staying with a family friend in Oak Park, which is also near Calabasas, on May 1 after returning from the CinemaCon theater-owners convention in Las Vegas. He was supposed to stay overnight with the family friend, the Smiths have said. The 6-foot-6 Smith, who played basketball for UCLA in the mid-1970s, was last seen wearing purple paints and black and gray shoes.
In an April 14 tweet that has since been deleted but has been widely circulated by media outlets, Evan Smith suggested that his father had left the family. “Thoughts and prayers out to my amazing Mom and bros plz,” Evan Smith wrote. “My dad decided to leave the family last nite. Real family sticks together.”
But in comments made to media outlets following the Fox executive’s disappearance, the Smith family has minimized any strife, saying that Smith and wife Lisa Smith have only experienced the normal ups and downs of a typical marriage. Evan Smith has told E! News: “They were not separated. They were just going through normal stuff couples go through.”
STORY: Body Found in Angeles National Forest Is Not Missing 20th Century Fox Executive
Crisis public relations consultant Howard Bragman, who was hired by the Smiths on May 10, told The Hollywood Reporter that the family is no longer giving interviews. “The family is unified in wanting to find Gavin,” Bragman said.
The sheriff’s department committed additional manpower to the case May 7, though it has cautioned that there is no evidence of foul play. ‘We’ve added significant resources,” sheriff’s department spokesman Steve Whitmore told THR. “We are using everything at our disposal to try to locate this gentleman.”
The Smith family’s appeals via various media outlets for information on the whereabouts of the Fox executive have generated multiple tips for detectives, though it is unclear whether any of the information has proved useful. “I’m not going to get into the specifics of the investigation,” Whitmore said. “We are getting tips and following all of them up.”
A handful of news outlets have reported that the case has been changed to a criminal homicide investigation. However, the sheriff’s department has said that all missing persons cases are handled by its homicide bureau and that there has been no change in the status of the case.
“We need to move forward as we are right now,” Whitmore said. “We are following all leads.”
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