The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst: The Gangster's Daughter
March 15, 2015 11:19 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

2000: Susan Berman was the daughter of a famous Las Vegas mobster, Davey “The Jew” Berman, who was a partner with “Bugsy” Siegel in the Flamingo Hotel. Robert Durst’s closest friend since they attended UCLA together, she had a mobster’s mentality and matching code of ethics; people said she would do anything for a friend.

Since Kathie Durst’s disappearance two decades earlier, Robert Durst had been the subject of media and public scrutiny, and she had become his spokesperson to the media. Some say that Robert and Susan kept each other’s secrets, and that if anyone knew what happened to Kathie, it would be Susan.

When a random tip leads ambitious Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro to re-open the investigation into the disappearance of Kathie Durst, her investigators focus on Susan Berman, a witness the police had overlooked back in 1982. But before the police are able to speak with her, Susan is found murdered – shot in the back of the head, execution-style. With no sign of struggle at the crime scene, police surmise her killer is likely someone who knew her well. Reviewing potential suspects, the police are unable to make a clear connection that links Robert to Susan’s death. Meanwhile, Robert reaches out and befriends his dead friend’s family, including her adopted son, Sareb.

Late 2000: With stories of the Los Angeles murder of Susan Berman receding, Robert Durst is suddenly back in the news when he is arrested in Galveston, Texas for the death of his neighbor Morris Black, whose dismembered body was found in the bay.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (5 comments total)
So this one speaks to the "Kathie called the dean the next morning" alibi by suggesting that Susan made the call, but doesn't really have much to support that -- given that Susan's dead and Robert doesn't say -- other than a vague "yeah, that seems likely."

NOBODY SEARCHED THE HOUSE AT THE TIME. Also: "I think we all know now, that anything Bob says you have to question, you know. I don't think they thought that way then." From last episode also, the way Robert invented the drink-with-the-neighbor and the dog-walk-phone-call: "I thought that would get them to leave me alone." Big undercurrent of: he was trusted because he's from wealth.

"Oh, goodbye $250,000; goodbye jail; I'm out."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:36 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also: while I am enjoying this immensely, I am also finding the framing and the editing sometimes rather leading and manipulative.

A couple of examples from this episode:

Julie Smith, about Bob calling around the time of Susan's memorial: "I found the call a little bit threatening." / " I don't recall what he really said." This feels like "yeah Durst sure is creepy, eh" color without really adding any substance.

The editing at the end of Sareb's interview also seemed a bit sleazy to me: first a snippet of Smith suggesting he'd "like to believe in a multimillionaire who could be his good friend"; then the college money and Sareb's "it was a little padded" admission; then the "he missed the dinner" laugh transitioning back to Galveston. It undercuts everything Sareb had said before by suggesting that he's simply venal and/or naive.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:57 AM on March 16, 2015


It's hard to know, but Bob could have demanded a warrant for a search and perhaps the cops didn't have enough to get a judge to sign off. Or, perhaps it was a case of the DA saying "this case better be airtight before we even ask for a warrant because I'll be out of work if I fuck this up".
posted by sideshow at 12:29 PM on March 16, 2015


I am paraphrasing here but the lead detective in the wife's disappearance actually said (I can't remember which episode but I'm pretty sure it was the 1st or 2nd). that because they were having marital problems, she probably just ran off, which is the total opposite of what your first instinct should be in a missing persons investigation. So of course they wouldn't have searched the house, they didn't think a crime had been committed.
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:27 PM on March 16, 2015

Vulture reprints the 2001 New York magazine article, Who Killed the Gangster’s Daughter?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:21 PM on March 16, 2015

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