Durst, 71, has always maintained his innocence in Berman’s death. Berman’s father was an associate of Las Vegas mobsters Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky.
Berman, 55, a writer who became Durst’s spokeswoman, was killed at her home near Beverly Hills with a bullet to the back of her head as New York investigators prepared to question her in the unsolved 1982 disappearance of Durst’s wife.
In February 2015, the HBO television network aired the first episode of a six-part series about Robert Durst and his connection to his wife’s disappearance and the two murders called “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.” In making the documentary, New York City producers Marc Smerling and Andrew Jarecki spent 25 hours interviewing Durst on camera.
In the course of their research, the producers acquired from Susan Berman’s stepson, a hand-printed letter Durst had sent to her a year before her murder. On the envelope Durst had misspelled Beverly as “Beverley.”
Believing that the identical misspellings in the Berman letter and the cadaver note indicated that Durst had hand-printed the note sent to the Beverly HIlls Police Department, the TV producers asked New York City forensic document examiner John Osborn to analyze the handwriting evidence. After comparing the cadaver note to the Berman letter and 40 specimens of Durst’s known hand-printing, Mr. Osborn concluded that Durst was the writer of the cadaver document. The producers notified the authorities in Los Angeles.
In Louisiana at eleven at night on Saturday March 14, 2015, the day before the airing of the final episode of “The Jinx,” deputies with the Orleans Parish arrested Robert Durst in his room at the J. W. Marriott Hotel. A prosecutor in Los Angeles had charged Mr. Durst with the first-degree murder of Susan Berman. Durst had been preparing to fly to Cuba.
The next evening, when the final episode of “The Jinx” aired, Robert Durst was seen being confronted by producer Jarecki with the two pieces of hand-printing featuring the identical misspellings of Beverly. Durst admitted writing the Berman letter, but in obvious distress, denied writing the cadaver letter to the Beverly Hills Police Department.
At the conclusion of the filmed interview of Durst in the New York City offices of producers Smerling and Jarecki, Durst asked to use their restroom. With his microphone still hot, he began talking to himself. “There it is,” he said. “You’re caught. What a disaster. What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
On March 17, 2015, the authorities in Orleans Parish announced that Robert Durst had been charged in Louisiana with possession of a firearm by a felon, a felony that carried a maximum ten year sentence. It was not clear how this charge would affect the progress of the murder case in Los Angeles.
While Durst sat in a Louisiana jail cell, police officers and FBI agents, on March 17, searched his apartment in a 17-story condominium in a posh Houston, Texas neighborhood. His attorney, Dick DeGuerin, called the search a publicity stunt orchestrated by the Berman case prosecutor in Los Angeles.