Woman hopes TV show helps find brother
October 11, 2012
Since May 1, Minden resident Tara Smith Addeo has been living a life she can only describe as surreal.
That’s the day her older brother, 20th Century Fox executive Gavin Smith, 57, was reported missing in Los Angeles.
His story will be told tonight on America’s Most Wanted, and Addeo and her family hope the broadcast will jostle a memory or spark a recollection in anyone who can shed light on the whereabouts of her brother.
“Every day seems surreal to me,” Addeo said in an interview Tuesday. “I wake up, and I am ready to greet the day. But within a few minutes, I start thinking where’s my brother? It casts a dark cloud over the whole day.”
Addeo said it’s as if her brother vanished into thin air.
According to reports, he had separated from his wife Lisa and three sons, and was living with a roommate in the Los Angeles area.
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Addeo said he apparently received a late night telephone call May 1, and left the house about 10:30 p.m., driving his black Mercedes-Benz, wearing purple sweatpants and black and gray shoes.
“I suspect somebody called him away from the house, but I don’t know who. They lured him out of the house. Nobody saw him leave, and he left everything at his friend’s,” Addeo said.
For months, Addeo prayed for a positive outcome.
“I feel like he’s not with us anymore,” she said. “I feel like he’s gone, but I still have hope. Not an hour goes by where I don’t think, ‘Is he dead? Did he walk away?’ You just don’t stop thinking of those scenarios.”
She said authorities have been unable to find any trace of Smith, his vehicle, cell phone or wallet.
Addeo grew up in the Los Angeles area, and has spent numerous weekends in California looking for her brother. When a waitress thought she saw him two weeks after he disappeared, Addeo took her family to the restaurant and interviewed the woman. It turned out to be a false alarm.
Addeo said she has 100 percent confidence in investigators for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“I am thankful they are finding justice for my brother,” she said.
Addeo said she and her older brother had become closer over the past year. She spoke to him the day before he disappeared.
“That is such a blessing for me now,” she said. “He knew I was a Christian, and while Gavin didn’t go to church, he was very strong in his own beliefs. He wanted to know what I was thinking.”
Despite her brother’s marital problems, Addeo said he was devoted to his three sons.
“He wouldn’t do anything to hurt them,” she said, dismissing the notion that he willingly disappeared.
He was supposed to pick his youngest son up at 7:30 a.m. for school. When Smith didn’t show up, the teenager just contacted another friend for a ride, and didn’t report his father’s absence until he got home that afternoon.
Smith’s wife began trying to contact him, and called police about two hours later when she was unsuccessful.
Addeo found out her brother was missing when her sister-in-law called to ask if she had heard from him.
Since her brother has been missing, Addeo has answered several requests for interviews, even considering an offer from Dr. Phil McGraw to appear Monday on his television program with psychic John Edward.
“You become hungry for information, for answers,” Addeo said.
She has appeared on ABC’S “Good Morning America” and was interviewed in Reno this week for a segment on NBC’s “Today Show.”
Her missing brother is on the prayer chain at High Sierra Fellowship, as well as the program. She’s posted updates on the search on her Facebook page and the “Find Gavin Smith” page.
The family has offered a $20,000 reward.
Smith played basketball at UCLA for John Wooden, and joined Fox 18 years ago.
Addeo is troubled by media accounts that portray her brother as a womanizer or someone with substance abuse issues.
“Airing the dirty laundry is awful,” she said.
That’s not the brother she loves.
“Gavin is bigger than life. He walks into a room, and definitely commands center stage. He is a loving, caring very compassionate man,” she said.
Addeo hopes that by exposing her brother’s story to millions of television viewers, “that one, right person will come forward with information.”
“We want closure,” she said. “As long as we don’t know what happened, we can’t memorialize him, we can’t move on.”
If her brother is dead, Addeo said, “it won’t be easy, but from that moment on, we will know what our future would be.”
She is contemplating a small, candlelight vigil on the beach in California on her brother’s 58th birthday in December.
“Even if you don’t see someone every day, it doesn’t mean he isn’t a huge part of your life. There is a huge puzzle piece missing. I can’t even speak of him in the past tense,” she said.
Addeo has turned to her faith and her family.
“You’re forced to go on,” she said. “One of my daughters was named Whittell High School homecoming queen last week. I am planning my second daughter’s wedding. We celebrate, but it’s still overshadowed by this. I have struggled. There are days you do cry, and days you don’t.
“It’s hard to imagine going through the enormity of this situation without the Lord. I have faith, I trust we’ll have answers some day.”
America’s Most Wanted, Friday, Charter Channel 30. The program has a 4-hour block from 8 p.m.-midnight, but the Gavin Smith segment is expected at 9 p.m., according to Tara Smith Addeo.
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