Robert Durst arrested in Susan Berman's murder

robert-durst-jarecki.jog.jpgDurst, right, with HBO director Andrew Jarecki. Photo: HBO

FBI agents and a fugitive task force arrested Robert Durst Saturday in New Orleans, after the LAPD decided that the subject of HBO's "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst" was responsible for the 2000 murder of his longtime friend, the Los Angeles writer Susan Berman. It could not have come at a better time for HBO. The final episode of The Jinx airs tonight.

Berman was found shot to death in her Benedict Canyon home, at a time when New York authorities wanted to talk to her about Durst's role in the unsolved 1982 disappearance of his wife. Berman had been functioning as an unofficial press agent for Durst, a friend since they were at UCLA together. He was a New York real estate family's offspring and she was the daughter of Las Vegas mobster Davie Berman, a partner of Bugsy Siegel. Susan Berman, a writer for New York magazine and other places, had made a name for herself writing about discovering that she was a Mafia child.

The LAPD says only that new information came available in the past year linking Durst to the Berman killing. The LA Times and other media reports say that the key piece of evidence was a letter from Durst to Berman shown on last week's episode of "The Jinx," tying him to her murder.

New York Magazine did a big piece on the Berman murder back in 2001. From the magazine's update today:

Last week's episode of The Jinx ended with Berman's step-son, Sareb Kaufman, showing filmmakers Marc Smerling and Andrew Jarecki a letter Durst mailed to Berman in 1999. The handwriting on the envelope (as well as a distinctive misspelling of "Beverly Hills") appeared to match that of an anonymous note informing the LAPD of a "cadaver" at Berman's address shortly after her death. As of the filming of the episode, investigators had not seen the letter, which Kaufman said he recently discovered in a box of Berman's things.

Durst is also believed to have been involved in the unsolved 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathie Durst. Former Westchester prosecutor Jeanine Pirro, who long sought to indict Robert for Kathie's death, celebrated the news of his arrest on Twitter...

Durst definitely killed (and dismembered) his Galveston, Texas neighbor, Morris Black, in 2001, but he got off by claiming self-defense. He spent three years in prison after pleading guilty to tampering with evidence and skipping out his $1 billion bail. This time, he's being held without bond.

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