The missing persons case was changed to a homicide investigation after Smith’s Mercedes was found at a storage facility last month in Simi Valley, law enforcement officials confirmed to Variety. No body was found, but police have identified John Creech, jailed on unrelated drug charges, as a person of interest, primarily by way of his connection to the storage facility.
Police did not disclose further details on Creech or his connection to Smith, but the Los Angeles Times reported that Creech’s wife, Chandrika Creech, met Smith in therapy, citing a person familiar with the case who the paper did not identify. John Creech had previously told a Times reporter at an unrelated court hearing that he had never met Smith.
Several warrants served in the San Fernando Valley also contributed to the change in the nature of the investigation, authorities said.
The 57-year-old Smith was last seen leaving the Oak Park, Calif., home of a friend on May 1. Authorities are asking for the public’s help, seeking anyone who may have seen Smith’s black Mercedes 420E traveling anywhere near his home or the Simi Valley area in the days after his disappearance.