Reached while traveling on Wednesday, "Most Wanted" host and exec producer John Walsh breathed a sigh of relief that Harold Martin Smith, the "person of interest" who killed himself after being approached by police, appeared to be involved with the crime after all.
"Thank God the ballistics matched up," Walsh told Variety. "Earlier this week there seemed to be a question."
Walsh said "Most Wanted" profiled the case at the behest of several Hollywood figures, including 20th Television prexy Greg Meidel.
"I don't think in the 23 years that we've been doing this show that we've gotten so many calls from the entertainment industry," Walsh said. "So many people in the entertainment business out there knew Ronni Chasen. Working closely with the Beverly Hills Police Department, we profiled Ronni's murder right after it happened on that Saturday night."
Walsh said the Beverly Hills police had hit a wall in the case when they approached "Most Wanted."
"They said, 'we don't have any idea who might have murdered this person,'" he said.
As has been noted by the Beverly Hills police, Walsh confirmed that "Most Wanted" received a tip right after that episode from someone who lived in the Hollywood-area Harvey Apartments building where Smith had once lived and ultimately shot himself.
"That tipster didn't call us with an address, and didn't call us back for four days," Walsh said. Eventually the person did call back with info, including when Smith was expected to be back in the building.
"There's a hero here, it's this tipster," Walsh said. "I talked to this tipster a couple of times... I don't normally talk to tipsters, and he wants to remain anonymous. But when we told him the news (that the ballistics matched), he broke into tears. He had been having second thoughts, saying, 'I hope this was the guy, I hope I did the right thing.'"
Walsh said he hoped the news would provide some closure to the friends, family and colleagues of Chasen.
"At least there is some ending," he said. "I hope this is the final chapter for this case. There are still questions on why he did it. Was it just violence or road rage? Did he try to rob her? Hopefully that will all unravel."
As for the fact that Chasen's murder took place in an upscale neighborhood, Walsh said it served as a reminder that violent crime can take place anywhere.
"I've seen a lot of shocking stuff and a lot of tough cases," said Walsh. "You can be a crime victim anywhere in America. I think everybody was surprised that it was Ronni and that it happened in Beverly Hills. But the reality is it doesn't matter if it's the Twin Towers or Bill Cosby's son or Michael Jordan's father. That's part of the reality of living in today's world."