Nearly two days on with nothing, Beverly Hills police turn to cameras, computers and the public for aid; festival offers $100,000 reward
No leads, no suspects, no video — nothing.
Investigators looking into the shooting death of publicist Ronni Chasen say that as of late Wednesday afternoon, they have zip to go on. Beverly Hills Police detectives are as baffled as the rest of Hollywood.
“It is a wide open investigation; we don't have any concrete leads at this time,” Beverly Hills Sgt. Lincoln Hoshino told TheWrap.
But it's still early: Detectives did say they were seeking video surveillance footage from several sources — businesses, residences, traffic cameras — to try to determine who gunned down the beloved Hollywood figure in her car early Tuesday at the age of 64. Nothing’s turned up yet.
"Hard drives and other material from Ms. Chasen's office and home have been collected and are being analyzed," Sgt. Kelly Speddon told TheWrap. While fairly standard procedure, the seizure of that material could signal that investigators have not ruled out the shooter was an acquaintance of Chasen's.
Obtaining and parsing video from all points between the W Hotel in Hollywood, where Chasen was last seen at the "Burlesque" premiere afterparty, and the Sunset/Whittier intersection where she was killed is a process that could easily take “weeks or months,” Spedden said.
The Los Angeles County Coroner was preparing its report, also a process that could take up to a couple of weeks — though there seems little doubt that they will rule Chasen's death a homicide. The investigation, meanwhile, remained in the hands of the Beverly Hills Police Department, which has only had two other homicide cases this year. Both of which were solved.
One thing they can seemingly rule out in this homicide is that Chasen was accosted at the W. At least that's how it would appear since she left a mundane voice message at her office around 12:22, just a few minutes before she was shot and her car crashed into a lightpole. That almost certainly means that the shooter was following her, or encountered her at the intersection itself.
Hoshino told TheWrap that it’s unlikely the BHPD would be releasing any more information in the case Wednesday. However, Sgt. Hoshino did confirm that Chasen's car was found on Whittier, south of Sunset, and that the passenger window was shattered. "We don't know if that was a result of the shooting or of the crash," he noted.
Photos of the car, as it was towed by police, showed the passenger-side front end crushed, but the front windshield intact. Chasen had a handicapped parking tag handing from the interior mirror.
A number of friends and colleagues of Chasen's have begun offering rewards to help solve the crime, including the Palm Springs International Film Festival, which has put up $100,000 for information that apprehends the killer or killers.
Festival Chairman Harold Matzner issued a statement today regarding her death:
“Famed Hollywood publicist, Ronni Chasen, has been my partner in selecting all honorees and presenters for the Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala for the past 10 years.
"Ronni handled all negotiations with the studios and she and her team made all of the arrangements to bring the celebrity honorees to Palm Springs for the event. The honorees were Ronni’s responsibility until they arrived in Palm Springs. The Awards Gala has the amazing record of having every single honoree appear on stage for the past nine year. A very good lady, a good friend…and a genius at her craft…Her death is very, very sad and mystifying…. Ronni has played the most important part in the Awards Gala’s success. She will be very missed by all in the Festival family…and by me especially ….!”
If you have any information about the death of Ronni Chasen please contact Beverly Hills Police Department Tip Line at (310) 288-2656.