Experts say publicist's murder is "solvable"

Thu Nov 25, 2010 2:35am EST
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By Daniel Miller

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - As the inquiry into the killing of Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen enters its second week, prominent criminal investigators say that the apparent targeted nature of the crime makes the case solvable.

The Beverly Hills Police Department is not revealing details of the investigation, but a city official says the police's working theory centers on the November 16 attack being planned, rather than a result of road rage or a carjacking gone awry. Despite suspicion that the late-night incident was organized, it remains unclear whether Chasen was personally targeted in the shooting.

Several high-profile investigators not involved in the case say the details that have emerged indicate that the killing probably was premeditated and perhaps tied to a soured relationship.

Robert Wittman, a former senior investigator for the FBI, believes that the murder -- Chasen was shot five times in the chest -- could have been a result of conflict in the publicist's business or personal life.

"It would be a business-related situation or something that is personal, where she upset somebody or shrugged off a suitor, or a client who felt she did them wrong," says Wittman, who spent 20 years with the FBI and specializes in art-related crimes. "It's obviously a premeditated killing."

But the potential personal nature of the murder could make it easier to solve, Wittman says. Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist, agrees.

"This sounds solvable because for somebody to go to the trouble of doing this and probably hiring somebody to do it means they know the person," he says. "I'd imagine the police are looking into this, and there is a list of people they want to talk to."

BHPD and city officials have emphasized the extraordinary amount of work going into the investigation. Councilman Barry Brucker says the case is a "very high priority" for the city.   Continued...