Ever since HBO’s very good investigative pornography show “The Jinx” exploded this past spring, viewers and critics have wondered how much creator Andrew Jarecki’s own digginginfluenced the active murder investigations in Los Angeles and Westchester, N.Y., into his subject, the sociopathic millionaire Robert Durst. A freedom of information request filed by Gawker suggests the two are intertwined.
After Durst’s arrest, perfectly timed to the chilling finale of The Jinx, the LAPD—which had long been investigating Durst’s role in the 2000 murder of Susan Berman— denied that the two events were anything more than a coincidence (and blessing for HBO’s marketing department):
“We based our actions based on the investigation and the evidence,” LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese Albanese told the Los Angeles Times. “We didn’t base anything we did on the HBO series. The arrest was made as a result of the investigative efforts and at a time that we believe it was needed…We’re constantly looking at cold cases—this being one of them.”
The timing certainly raised questions about whether Jarecki was journalistically investigating Durst’s possible role as a serial killer, or actively collaborating with the LAPD to catch him. We filed an inquiry under California’s Public Record Act to find out, requesting all correspondence between Jarecki and the LAPD. The department’s response suggests that it views its contacts with Jarecki not as a conversation between the LAPD and a journalist, but as part of an active murder investigation:
Staff from conducted a search and has located records responsive to your request. Staff from RHD has indicated that these records were produced in the course of an on-going criminal investigation. In accordance with Section 6254(f), records of investigations conducted by, or investigatory files compiled by, any local police agency for law enforcement purposes, are exempt from disclosure. Section 6254(f) further exempts the disclosure of information that would potentially endanger the safety of a person involved in an on-going investigation or would endanger the successful completion of the investigation. Your request seeks documents that are either investigatory records or properly part of an investigative file and are part of an on-going investigation; therefore, I am denying your request.
I’ve reached out to Jarecki for comment and will update if I receive a reply.
By Sam Biddle (Gawker)