Robert Durst: Guilty

American flag with Lady justice

The multimillionaire U.S real estate heir Robert Durst has been found guilty of first-degree murder. For nearly 40 years, Durst has lived under the shadow of guilt with a string of murders and disappearances linked to his name.

On 17 September 2021, a Los Angeles jury took seven hours to deliberate before delivering their verdict: guilty.

The 78-year-old was convicted of killing his best friend Susan Berman over twenty years ago. Berman was shot in the head at point-blank range in her Beverly Hills home in 2000. Berman, who happened to be the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster, had told friends she’d given Durst a fake alibi after his wife disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1982. For a long time police suspected Durst had a hand in his wife’s disappearance, the body of Kathleen Durst has never been found and she is presumed dead. Fearful that Berman might talk to the police, Durst went to her home and killed her.

Durst then went on the run, hiding out in Galveston, Texas, where he lived under the disguise of a deaf-mute woman. But even there, death followed in his wake as his new roommate would soon find out. In 2001, Morris Black was shot and killed by Durst, who then dismembered Black’s body with a saw before dumping the remains into Galveston Bay. Although Durst was tried for that murder, his lawyers unbelievably managed to successfully argue their client had acted in self-defence.

The bizarre story of Durst’s life and suspected crimes was then documented in the 2015 HBO documentary The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. The documentary brought new evidence and breathed fresh life into the cases linked with the real estate heir who was arrested on the same day as the final episode was broadcast.

Durst gave several interviews to the filmmakers, later admitting that his decision to partake in the documentary was a ‘very, very, very big mistake’. The two most damning pieces of evidence to come out of the six-part series were related to a written note and a confession captured on a ‘hot mic’.

After the death of Berman, police were sent a handwritten note with her Beverly Hills address on it accompanied with the word ‘cadaver’. Durst admitted in the documentary that ‘only the killer could have written’ the note. At that moment, filmmakers presented him with a letter he’d sent Berman a year earlier and the handwriting was identical. Both notes also incorrectly spelt ‘Beverly’ as ‘Beverley’. During his recent trial, Durst admitted to writing the note sent to police testifying that ‘it’s very difficult to believe, to accept, that I wrote the letter and did not kill Susan Berman’.

The Jinx saved the most shocking piece of evidence for the last episode, playing an audio recording from a hot microphone of Durst declaring, ‘What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.’

Described by prosecutors as a ‘narcissistic psychopath’, Durst will be sentenced in mid-October with the likelihood being that he will die behind bars.