By Robin Sax and Darrell Goodwin
The police are convinced that the shooting of Ronni Chasen was not a professional hit and 43-year-old Harold Martin Smith acted on his own with the motive being a robbery, albeit a botched robbery. While yesterday's press conferences was intended to solidify one thing -- that the gun from the slain Smith matched that of the murder weapon used to kill Ronni Chasen -- the press conference turned out to be an announcement that the police knew who the killer was (even if they weren't using those exact words). What Chief Snowden did say was:
- The investigation was 60-70% concluded.
- The gun preliminarily matched.
- They believe the shooter was Harold Smith.
- They believe he acted alone.
- They believe robbery gone bad was the motive for Chasen's murder.
- They are still working to eliminate all possibilities.
- The identification of Harold Smith was from a tip from America's Most Wanted.
- The tipster may be eligible for the $125,000 reward.
- There was a great deal of "erroneous information" originally reported.
But the police did not clarify what the "erroneous information" was. Without that knowledge we are still forced to ask questions, forced to speculate, and forced to hypothesize.
Let's assume for a moment that the suspect was hanging around the intersection of Sunset and Whittier and ran up to Chasen's car with the intent to rob her. Then after shooting her multiple times, she was able to press the gas pedal and drive far fast enough down the road that he didn't pursue the car to take what he set out to rob her of.
How many robbers in America ride a bicycle seven miles to commit a robbery, approach from the passenger side of a single occupant vehicle, shoot with deadly accuracy, center mass, through the passenger window and then leave after taking nothing? Then, potentially leave their bicycle in the area and walk seven miles home? Take the bus? Hitchhike? More than that what about all the firefighters, ambulance, and police that rolled out no one saw him, interviewed him or anything?
So he kills her but doesn't have time to grab her purse or anything of value from the scene? That really does stretch the notion of "botched robbery." Not impossible, but very "weird" nonetheless.
Supposedly police are seeking videotapes from both public and private cameras along Sunset Blvd. What about traffic control video from the seven miles worth of intersections the suspect would have ridden past to get to Sunset and Whittier?
The first 911 call received by the police was in reference to hearing a possible, single gunshot around the intersection of Sunset and Benedict Canyon Road. Then, additional 911 calls came in about possible multiple gunshots heard at the intersection of Sunset and Whittier. Could the original attempt to rob Chasen have occurred at the Benedict intersection? Then upon failing in that attempt, peddle with supersonic speed behind Chasen for nearly half of a mile to accomplish his goal?
More questions: was the person who made the first 911 called interviewed? Was the Benedict Canyon at Sunset intersection checked for shell casings and videotape? Isn't there valuable information on that bike? Before having a press conference wouldn't you confirm that there was gun powder, bike tire marks, dirt from the scene or something that positively matched the bicycle if that was the mode of transportation? No shell casings were found at the intersection of Sunset and Whittier. When the police were standing in front of the suspect as he shot himself, did a shell casing disperse from the gun? Where did the gun come from? Was the serial number intact or scratched off?
It is possible that premature speculation and rumors have generated too many unanswered questions to what really happened to the wealthy and respected publicist just after 12AM on that night November 16. Some questions that are harder than others contradict BHPD statements that 43 year old ex-con Harold Smith rode his favorite bike to commit an armed robbery with Chasen the random victim. BHPD will hopefully come forth very soon with convincing information to legitimize their theory that this was not a merciless contract murder that took the life of this vital member of the entertainment industry. Until then, the questions remain.
Rest in peace, Ronni Chasen. We will continue to press on as we know you would have.
Co-authored by Chief Investigator Darrell Goodwin of Professional Claims Group, INC. A private investigator for over 28 years, Goodwin is a founder of IRBsearch, LLC and IDology, INC along with participating as an investigative consultant team member for two major national databases providing law enforcement and private agencies with investigative data analysis tools utilized in solving thousands of criminal cases including terrorist acts, murders, burglaries, fraud, and missing persons to name a few.