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

December 8, 2010 |  2:58 pm

The tipster who made the initial link between a Hollywood man and the slaying of Ronni Chasen expressed relief when told that the man's gun was a ballistic match to the one that killed the Hollywood publicist.

"America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh told The Times that when a TV show staff told the tipster about the match, "He broke into tears. He was hopeful that he had done the right thing. He was worried, ‘What if this guy wasn’t the right guy?’ ”

Two law enforcement sources have told The Times that the gun recovered from a man who committed suicide at a Hollywood apartment building is a match to the one that killed Chasen.

The Beverly Hills Police Department has called a 3 p.m. news conference to discuss the case, though no details were provided.

Harold Smith took his own life last week when Beverly Hills police went to his residence to talk to him about the Chasen slaying. Police had been tipped by a viewer of "America's Most Wanted," which featured the case.

Officials have said they are not sure if Smith was involved in the killing and had asked the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department's Scientific Services Bureau/Firearms Section to do a ballistics comparison.

The source spoke on the condition that he not be named because the investigation is ongoing

Chasen was shot to death last month while driving her Mercedes-Benz near the intersection of Whittier Drive and Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills. She was on her way home from a movie premiere after-party.

She was believed to have left the event about midnight, traveling west on Sunset. Friends believe she had planned to head south to her condominium on Wilshire Boulevard near the grounds of the Los Angeles Country Club.

Several residents dialed 911 at the time of the attack. The first call, from a person who lives near Sunset and Benedict Canyon Drive, reported a gunshot.

Moments later, more 911 calls came in reporting shots heard several blocks to the west, near Whittier and Sunset. Another resident called 911 to report hearing a car crash into a light pole.

Residents who heard the crash found Chasen slumped over the steering wheel, bleeding.


Gun recovered from suspect appears to match one that killed Ronni Chasen

Ronni Chasen slaying: Beverly Hills police want testing of gun used in suicide

Suicide of suspect in Ronni Chasen slaying caught on tape

-- Andrew Blankstein, Harriet Ryan and Richard Winton