Robert Durst, the 71-year-old heir to a New York City real estate fortune and more recently, star of the HBO crime documentary series The Jinx, was arrested Saturday night in connection with the gunshot murder of his longtime friend Susan Berman, two days before Christmas in 2000.
Durst was taken into custody on murder charges at around 11 p.m. Saturday, March 14, at a Marriott Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. The arrest warrant came from Los Angeles, California, where Berman was gunned down in her own home nearly 15 years ago, according to multiple reports Sunday morning.
The arrest of Robert Durst came on the eve of HBO’s broadcast of the Jinx series finale — a final episode that has promised major revelations in the Berman murder case.
In the fifth episode, the documentary revealed an envelope with handwriting by Durst that bore shocking similarities to a note mailed to Beverly Hills police by Berman’s anonymous killer.
Prior to the killing of Berman, Durst had long been the prime suspect in the unexplained disappearance of his first wife, Kathy, in 1982, when the then-couple lived in Westchester County, New York.
Former Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro — now a Fox News TV personality — has said that she believes Durst killed his closest friend to silence her because, Pirro believes, he had trusted her with details of his wife’s disappearance, and Berman was about to be interviewed by Pirro’s investigators who had reopened the cold case.
In 2001, Durst was living incognito in Galveston, Texas, when he became the top suspect in the gunshot killing and subsequent dismemberment of a neighbor, Morris Black. The multimillionaire scion was arrested and put on trial for that grisly crime. Although Durst admitted dismembering Black’s body and dumping the remains — except for Black’s head — in Galveston Bay, he claimed that he killed Black in self-defense.
Somehow, a jury bought his story and Durst was acquitted.
In 2010, Durst was the subject of a fictionalized film, All Good Things, in which Ryan Gosling portrayed a Durst-like character called “David Marks.” After seeing the film, Durst contacted the movie’s director, Andrew Jarecki, and volunteered to sit for a no-holds-barred interview — over the advice of his own attorneys.
That lengthy and bizarre interview forms the centerpiece of the remarkable six-hour HBO documentary.
Jarecki has reportedly handed the suspicious envelope with the handwriting of Robert Durst over to police in Los Angeles. The envelope may have been the evidence that led to Durst being arrested Saturday in New Orleans, but that possibility has not been confirmed.
[Image: Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office]