L.A. County sheriff's investigators believe missing Fox exec Gavin Smith was killed after finding his car in a storage facility connected to a known drug dealer.
After finding the Mercedes in February in a facility linked to John Creech, who remains jailed for a drug conviction, investigators served "several search warrants."
Smith's disappearance is now being investigated as a homicide, a sheriff's statement said. Publicly it had been characterized as a missing persons case.
Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said the change was "based on the [car]’s condition and information developed from persons cooperating in the [case]."
No body has been recovered.
Smith, a former UCLA basketball player who worked in Fox's movie distribution department, left a friend's home in Ventura County's Oak Park the night of May 1.
He has not been seen since.
Wearing purple athletic pants belonging to one of his sons, Smith drove away in his car, leaving behind his cellphone charger, shaving kit and other items.
Authorities have served several warrants, including searches of Creech's home and Hummer. The connection between Creech and Smith is unclear.
John Creech's wife, Chandrika Creech, met Gavin Smith in therapy, according to a person familiar with the case who did not want to be named.