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The Jinx, HBO’s documentary series about accused murderer Robert Durst, which concludes Sunday night, has featured a number of shocking moments over its past five episodes.
Durst has been suspected of murdering three people: his wife, Kathie, who disappeared in 1982; his friend Susan Berman, who was shot dead execution-style in December 2000, shortly after she told Durst that the Los Angeles police wanted to talk to her about Kathie’s disappearance; and his neighbor Morris Black, whom Durst claimed he killed in self-defense and also admitted to dismembering.
The Jinx features Durst’s interviews with director Andrew Jarecki — the first time Durst has spoken publicly about the accusations. Using his comments and interviews with other individuals connected to those three deaths, the documentary series attempts to reconstruct what happened.
As the series presents various accounts of those incidents, along with new evidence, discrepancies emerge. Durst, himself, also makes a number of shocking statements, including revealing that he lied to the cops about what he did the night Kathie disappeared. The series’ fifth episode also included the discovery of a letter by Berman’s stepson that seems to connect Durst even more strongly to Berman’s murder and may have played a role in his his recent arrest, which happened shortly before the final episode aired.
Ahead of The Jinx‘s final episode, The Hollywood Reporter looks back at some of the most jaw-dropping revelations from the past five episodes, presented in order of their occurrence in the series.
1. Durst says he’s “complicit in Kathie’s not being here.”
Even before Kathie’s disappearance, Durst had a difficult relationship with Kathie’s family. In The Jinx, he explains that they often wanted to talk about things that he wasn’t interested in. When asked what he would say to Kathie’s mother now, Durst says, “That I feel bad about the way I treated you. That you’re a good person. I am complicit in Kathie’s not being here.” Later, when asked specifically if he had anything to do with Kathie’s disappearance, he says he did not.
2. Durst reveals he lied to cops about what he did on the last night he saw Kathie.
The detective who was working on the case of Kathie’s disappearance and talked to Durst shortly after she was reported missing recounts in The Jinx what Durst said he did after he dropped Kathie off at the train station in Westchester. He told the police that after he returned to their house in South Salem, New York, he went over to his neighbor Bill Mayer‘s house for a drink and then later went for a walk, stopping at a pay phone to call Kathie at the couple’s New York City apartment. Durst told the police that she said she was fine and was watching TV.
But in The Jinx, when Durst recounts the events around Kathie’s disappearance, he leaves out the part about going to the Mayers‘ and later calling her from a pay phone. It turns out he didn’t do any of that. When Mayer is interviewed for The Jinx, he says, “New York City police had some reason to believe that Bobby had taken her to a train station and come back here for a drink. He just, I assume, fabricated that story without ever coming here for a drink nor even discussing with us in any way. So he didn’t ask us to lie for him. He just, I guess, kind of fibbed for himself.”
When Jarecki brings up the fact that Durst told the cops he went to the Mayers‘ for a drink, Durst freely admits that he made up both that detail and the story that he called Kathie from a pay phone so the cops would leave him alone.
“I was hoping that would just make everything go away. I didn’t go to the Mayers‘. I just took her to the train station, went home and went to sleep,” Durst says. “It’s like a negotiation. You tell someone you did something, and that’s that. They don’t go back there. They don’t look for motive. ‘Why is he telling me this kind of thing?’ I thought that would get them to, you know, leave me alone, accept the missing person.”
“The last part” of his strategy involved calling Kathie.
“She answered the phone, and that puts her in the city, and they were going to leave me alone now,” he says. After this moment, The Jinx replays its re-enactment of what Kathie did that night. But at the moment where the series previously showed a re-enactment of a woman getting on a train, the second time they re-enact the train scene, its doors open and close without anyone boarding the train.
3. Durst is caught reciting that he “didn’t knowingly, purposefully lie” while cameras are rolling.
During an interview at the end of the fourth episode of the series, which is devoted to Durst’s trial for Black’s murder, Jarecki tells Durst that at one point the real-estate heir told him that he lied to the jury, or that his lawyer encouraged him to. Durst says his attorney didn’t encourage him to lie.
Durst explains: “We went over the oath, and from day one, the oath says, ‘You promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.’ [My lawyer said] ‘Just make sure you pay attention to [the one at the beginning and the one at the end.] ‘Tell the truth, nothing but the truth,’ that you do exactly that. In terms of the whole truth, if you want to leave out something that … which makes you look bad if you tell it, but does not turn into an untruth, well, try it. Try it. If there’s something you don’t want to say or that you think could be construed the wrong way, then just leave it out.’ “
They then take a break, but the documentary filmmakers leave the camera running and Durst is still wearing his microphone. After a few seconds he can be heard saying to himself repeatedly, “I did not knowingly, purposefully lie,” as if he’s reciting a line. The third time he says this phrase, he adds “intentionally” before “lie” and follows that with, “I did make mistakes.” At this moment, his lawyer comes over and says, “They could just hear every word you said when you were talking to yourself. So we can’t really talk.” But Durst keeps going, talking to his lawyer and saying, “I didn’t tell the whole truth. Nobody tells the whole truth.”
4. The investigator hired by Durst discovers that the doorman didn’t see Kathie Durst arrive at the couple’s New York City apartment.
In one of the news reports about Kathie’s disappearance shortly after she vanished, audio of which is played during The Jinx, the reporter explains that the night doorman at the couple’s Riverside Drive apartment told the police that he saw her come in and go up to their penthouse. In the fifth episode of the series, the filmmakers reveal that they obtained access to the records of Ed Wright, whom Durst’s lawyer brought in to investigate Kathie’s disappearance in 1982. The detective who was investigating Kathie’s disappearance in the ‘80s then reads a portion of Wright’s report, titled “Discrepancies in the Recollection of Various Principals.” In addition to noting that Durst changed his story about where he was when he called Kathie, Wright writes that the doorman told him he didn’t see her. “He would have been the guy to bring her up, and if he didn’t see her, she wasn’t there,” the detective says.
5. Susan Berman’s stepson discovers a letter from Durst with some telling details.
In the fifth episode, The Jinx filmmakers reveal that Susan Berman’s stepson, Sareb Kaufman, found a letter from Durst to Berman prior to her death that includes some telling details. Durst has been suspected of writing an anonymous note to the Beverly Hills Police Department alerting them to a “cadaver” at Berman’s house, which was postmarked the day California officials believe the murder occurred. The note is written in block lettering and misspells “Beverly Hills” as “Beverley Hills.” When asked about the note sent to the police, Durst tells Jarecki that whoever wrote it took a “big risk. You’re writing a note to the police that only the killer could have written.” The letter Berman’s stepson discovered, which he presents to The Jinx producer Marc Smerling, also misspells “Beverly” and features a style of writing that looks very similar to the writing on the cadaver note. When Kaufman, who grew close to Durst after his stepmother’s death, shows the letter to Smerling, he seems incredibly anxious and says, “It was clear enough that I might be dancing with the devil.” The letter seems to play a crucial role in The Jinx‘s final episode.
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