The investigation into the murder of Hollywood publicist Ronnie Chasen is now officially closed. Police concluded that Chasen was the victim of a random, botched robbery attempt by an ex-convict late last year.
The man police suspected of killing Chasen, Harold Martin Smith, shot himself in December when detectives came for an interview at his apartment in Hollywood.
But even though authorities had evidence tying him to Chasen’s murder as early as last November, they kept the case open. Recently, authorities explained that they wanted to be sure nobody else was involved in the murder before drawing any final conclusions.
The decision to close the case for good came when the Beverly Hills police department stated they were confident that Smith was the sole perpetrator of the crime.
Details of the Crime
Chasen was killed last fall when she was driving home from a premiere party for the movie “Burlesque”. She was found shot several times. Speculation immediately after the shooting included a theory that a hit man had murdered her.
Authorities, however, did not view the crime as a professional hit and began to hone in on Smith as their main suspect over the next few months.
During their investigation, police went through 150,000 e-mails and texts, looked into thousands of leads and reviewed thousands of financial documents belonging to Chasen. In addition, they went over Chasen’s route the night she was killed, analyzed video footage and conducted hundreds of interviews with family, friends, business contacts and others.
In the end, the most telling piece of evidence involved the gun itself. It was determined that the firearm that shot Chasen was the same weapon Smith had used to kill himself when police approached his apartment building. Police never laid out criminal charges against Smith, but he had been named a person of interest.
Ronnie Chasen was one of the most well known publicists in Hollywood. She made a name for herself by doing PR work on films such as “On Golden Pond” and “Wall Street”. She also directed the Oscar campaign for the movie “Driving Miss Daisy”.
In 1993 Chasen was named Senior Vice President for Publicity at Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Simultaneously, she ran her own publicity firm, which she called Chasen & Co.
At the time of her death, Chasen was working with Richard D. Zanuck on the Oscar campaign for the 2010 film “Alice in Wonderland”.
Chasen is survived by her brother, film director Larry Cohen.