And the revelations keep coming. Over the weekend, just days after we posted this news report with the headline “Did the Jinx Just Solve the Mystery of Who Killed Beverly Hills Writer Sherman Berman?” on March 9 about the L.A. district attorney reopening the investigation into Berman’s death, Robert Durst was arrested in New Orleans for her murder. According to the Los Angeles Times, an orange jump suit-clad Durst waived extradition during a hearing held this morning and is expected to arrive in Los Angeles soon.
The timing of Durst’s arrest coincided, extraordinarily, with the airing of the final episode of The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, the HBO documentary about the wealthy son of a New York real estate mogul and the two murder cases and one missing person case he was suspected in (see more below). In the show’s chilling finale, Durst seemingly admits to killing Kathleen Durst, Morris Black, and Susan Berman while talking to himself in a restroom and wearing a live microphone after filming a segment with The Jinx producer Andrew Jarecki. Via a statement Robert’s brother Douglas told the New York Times that the family is relieved by the arrest. He says, “We hope he will finally be held accountable for all he has done.”
POSTED MARCH 9, 2015:
The New York Times is reporting that new evidence revealed Sunday in the fifth episode of an HBO documentary, The Jinx, may help Los Angeles prosecutors solve the killing 15 years ago of a Benedict Canyon woman who had deep mob ties.
According to the Times’ sources, the L.A. district attorney has recently reopened an investigation into the murder of Susan Berman, a writer—and daughter of the notorious mob boss Davie Berman—who was found in her home on Christmas Eve 2000, shot in the back of the head. Investigators initially suspected a business associate of Berman’s. And when I was reporting my October 2014 Los Angeles piece “Who Killed Bugsy Siegel?” more than one person I spoke to speculated that Berman had been executed in some kind of long-delayed mob-payback scheme. After all Davie Berman was among those who took over operation of the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas after Siegel’s murder in 1947.
But according to HBO’s The Jinx, a more likely suspect is Robert A. Durst, a wealthy son of a New York real estate family who has been suspected in three murders. Durst and Susan Berman were close friends; she served as his liaison with the media after the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen Durst.
Investigators in New York and Los Angeles have long known that Mr. Durst was in California at the time Ms. Berman was killed.
Although he was a suspect in her death, the police never had definitive evidence placing Mr. Durst in Los Angeles at the time of her death. The police also suspected that Mr. Durst was the author of an anonymous note sent to the Beverly Hills Police Department alerting them to a “cadaver” at Ms. Berman’s home. The letter was postmarked Dec. 23, 2000, the day California officials said they believed the murder occurred.
In a scene during the “Jinx” episode on Sunday, Ms. Berman’s stepson, Sareb Kaufman, calls the documentary’s producer Marc Smerling to say that he had discovered a 1999 letter from Mr. Durst to Ms. Berman among the boxes of her belongings in his apartment.
Comparing the two notes, a visibly shaken Mr. Kaufman notes that the block lettering used on the envelope of the newly discovered letter appears to be identical to the lettering on the “cadaver” note. And Beverly Hills is misspelled as “Beverley” on both notes.
The revelation about Durst’s handwriting seems likely to put an end to theories that Susan Berman was punished for revealing mob secrets. She had written a 1981 memoir, Easy Street: The True Story of a Mob Family, that I acquired from a used bookseller while researching Siegel’s murder. It’s mostly fond remembrances of—as she puts it—“a father who was a gangster, not a gangster who was a father.” Nonetheless, some wondered if she’d said too much. When I first sat down with Robbie Sedway, the lone surviving son of another of Bugsy Siegel and Davie Berman’s colleagues, Moe Sedway, he cited Susan Berman’s murder as one reason he was reluctant to talk.
Robbie has died now, too, after revealing to the world what he believes happened to Siegel. But he died of cancer, not gunfire wounds.