Anonymous caller “burst into tears” when ballistics tests linked suspect to killing, John Walsh says
The "America's Most Wanted" tipster who led police to the suspect in Ronni Chasen's shooting was "very fearful" and "burst into tears" when he learned of the ballistics match linking Harold Martin Smith to the shooting, show host John Walsh told the New York Post.
Smith shot himself when police went to talk to him about the killing. Ballistics tests later concluded that his gun was used to shoot Chasen as she drove home from the "Burlesque" premiere early on Nov. 16.
Walsh said the anonymous tipster had overheard Smith talking about the murder. "He didn't know the guy, but he knew enough to know he was a little unhinged, that this was not your average citizen," Walsh said.
The tipster called the show after its Nov. 20 segment on the killing, but waited "three or four days" to call back with details, Walsh said.
"We were holding our breath that he'd call back," Walsh said. "When he finally did, he gave a very thorough description of [Smith] and his location that were right on the nose."
In comments posted on the "America's Most Wanted" website, the tipster said, "My family, close friends and even my doctor said I was making something out of nothing and should just stay out of it."
Walsh said the tipster was wary of police and afraid of retribution.
"He's a real hero," Walsh said. "He did the right thing, and God bless him because he spared Ronni Chasen's family a long trial and a lot of pain."
The tipster could collect as much as $125,000 in reward money, but Walsh says he wasn't motivated by cash.
"I did this for one reason," the tipster told "AMW." "To get justice for Ronni Chasen."