On May 1, 2012, Hollywood executive Gavin Smith disappeared, and for more than two years his family as left with the mystery of his going missing — until his remains were found by hikers in a shallow grave in the desert on Oct. 26, 2014.
In July, Smith’s killer was confirmed when convicted drug dealer John Creech was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in Smith’s death. Prosecutors said then that “Creech brutally beat Smith, a former UCLA basketball player, while the defendant’s wife pleaded for him to stop.”
According to authorities, Creech had discovered Smith with his estranged wife late the night of May 1 or early on May 2, around midnight, and then killed him with his bare hands, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Now, in an exclusive interview, Smith’s wife as well as Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives are speaking out to Dateline about the case, two months after the guilty verdict.
The Friday night episode about the case is exclusively previewed above.
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“I was the love of Gavin’s life,” Lisa tells Dateline‘s Keith Morrison of her husband. “He adored me. Our family was exactly what he wanted to have. He just got lost.”
Detectives Ty Labbe and John O’Brien also discuss the many theories about Gavin’s disappearance — which was complicated by the fact that he was a recovering pain pill addict.
“He disappeared,” O’Brien says in the preview. “Maybe he overdosed. We didn’t exactly have any of those answers.”
Soon after Gavin’s remains were recovered in the fall of 2014, law enforcement sources told the Times that they believed his killing was the orchestration of one person with the aid of others “experienced in violent crime.”
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The truth, it turned out, was much simpler but just as brutal. (Creech, Gavin’s killer, argued self-defense at his trial and testified in his own defense. The jury declined to convict him of the most serious charges he faced, including first-degree murder.)
“Driving all over the Valley — we would have moments in the car of where we looked at each other and said, ‘I think this is a suicide,’ ” Labbe says in the clip. “And then an hour later, we’d interview somebody and something would happen and we’d go, ‘ I think this is a murder.’ ”
Dateline‘s episode on the Gavin Smith killing airs Friday (10 p.m. ET) on NBC.