Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Tipster in Ronni Chasen killing says he was encouraged not to get involved

December 10, 2010 |  8:09 am

The tipster who alerted the show "America's Most Wanted" to the possible connection between a Hollywood man and veteran movie publicist Ronni Chasen said he did so despite advice from others that he not get involved.

“My family, close friends and even my doctor said I was making something out of nothing and that I should just stay out of it,” the unidentified tipster said in a statement released by the show.

"America's Most Wanted" relayed the tip to Beverly Hills police, who went to Harold Martin Smith's Hollywood apartment last week. There, Smith pulled out a gun and took his own life. Preliminary ballistics tests showed that gun was used to kill Chasen.

Authorities said they believe Chasen was killed during a botched robbery and that Smith acted alone, perhaps while riding his bike.

Smith, a 43-year-old unemployed laborer with a rap sheet stretching back to the early 1990s, committed suicide last week as detectives attempted to question him about Chasen's killing.

The exact details of what the tipster told "America's Most Wanted" are unclear. But others in the apartment house said Smith had bragged about killing Chasen. The tipster said in the statement that phone problems prevented him from making contact with the show but he finally did.

Investigators believe Chasen was stopped at a traffic light at Sunset Boulevard and Whittier Drive when Smith approached on a bike — his only known mode of transportation — and attempted to rob her, police said.

Chasen was shot repeatedly in the torso. Her car continued traveling on Whittier until it crashed into a light pole.

Chasen's purse was in the car when neighbors found her, and police said there was no indication that Smith ever entered the car. Police recovered a bike in the area, but Beverly Hills police have not yet examined it.


Ronni Chasen shot in botched robbery; gunman acted alone

Ronni Chasen slaying does not appear to be a professional hit

Tipster who linked suspect to Ronni Chasen slaying vindicated by ballistics match

-- Andrew Blankstein and Harriet Ryan