Ronni Chasen Murder Investigation Officially Closed

 

The Beverly Hills Police Department has officially closed its investigation into the November murder of Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen, a department spokesman confirmed on Friday.

Police in January concluded that Chasen was shot four times by the same gun that Harold Martin Smith used to kill himself on Dec. 1 as detectives arrived at his apartment building in Hollywood to question him. Police had named Smith, a convicted felon, a person of interest in the case.

"All facts and evidence conclusively indicate that Mr. Smith acted alone and was in possession of the murder weapon when confronted in Hollywood for questioning," said Lt. Tony Lee in a statement.

Chasen was gunned down shortly after midnight near Sunset Boulevard and Whittier Drive on Nov. 16 as she drove home from a Burlesque premiere afterparty. Lee, the department's public information officer, said that detectives logged more than 10,000 hours on the case. Their work included reviewing thousands of Chasen's financial documents, interviewing many of her friends and family members and reviewing video footage that established the publicist's driving route the night she was killed.

Beverly Hills Mayor Barry Brucker offered condolences to the Chasen family and praised the city's police department in an e-mail interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

"The BHPD is known for their methodical and professional approach to their investigations and I am grateful that the family can now have closure," Brucker said.

Police sifted through more than 150,000 pieces of evidence and spent nearly six months investigating tips before concluding there was nothing to counter their initial investigation. 

Lee said that detectives recently met with Chasen's family and explained their findings. He said that the family expressed its satisfaction with the department's investigation and asked that the media respect its privacy.

In January, Beverly Hills Police Chief David Snowden told THR that the case was solved and there was no conspiracy. 

“That man is the man that shot her, there is no conspiracy, nothing else was involved,” Snowden said. “I know a lot of people don’t like to see it end like that -- they’d rather have something more dramatic, but that’s just the way it is. The facts are the facts."

It is believed by investigators that Smith used a bicycle to get to and from the scene of the crime and shot Chasen in an attempted robbery. The case drew national media attention, with some outlets speculating that Chasen was the target of a professional hit.

"The media frenzy surrounding this case offered numerous conspiracy theories yet what resulted was simply good detective work from the finest team of police professionals," Brucker said.

Citing a law enforcement official, The Wrap reported on Thursday night that the murder weapon was a handgun stolen from a police officer during a burglary in the San Fernando Valley.

Email: Lindsay.Powers@THR.com

Twitter: @LKPE

Email: Daniel.Miller@THR.com

Twitter: @DanielNMiller

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