UPDATED, 4:40 PM: Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office today charged Robert Durst with the 2000 killing of his friend Susan Berman in L.A. Read the full statement below.
PREVIOUSLY, 9:17 AM: Robert Durst’s apparent confession to the murders of his wife, neighbor and best friend wasn’t discovered until “many months” after it was recorded through an open microphone at the end of an interview, documentary filmmaker Andrew Jarecki told CBS This Morning on Monday.
The revelation came two days after the real estate scion was arrested in New Orleans and charged with the murder of his friend Susan Berman, and the morning after HBO telecast the chilling finale of The Jinx: The Life And Deaths of Robert Durst. Jarecki told CBS This Morning co-anchor Gayle King that he didn’t know what he had until months after his last interview with Durst, in which the longtime suspect is heard muttering to himself, “What did I do? Killed ’em all, of course.” (UPDATE, 10 AM: Durst appeared in court in Louisiana this morning and formally waived extradition to L.A.)
Jarecki also said that the “authorities had that audio for many months” but insisted that he had not abetted the various local and federal investigators, partly for fear of tainting a pending prosecution by becoming a part of the investigation.
“I watched it last night with my mouth open,” King told Jarecki, according to a transcript of the interview provided by CBS. “Even though the words were on the screen, I had to rewind it to hear, what exactly am I hearing?” King asks, “When did you all realize you had that recording and when did you take it to the authorities?”
Jarecki responded that the first interview with Durst took place in 2010. In Sunday’s finale of The Jinx, Jarecki is shown preparing for the followup interview that Durst had agreed to after many delays. During the second interview (first revealed in the penultimate chapter, shown a week earlier), Durst is shown a letter sent to the L.A. police with the address of the site of Berman’s murder and the word “CADAVER,” all written in block print. Jarecki then shows Durst a letter he’d written to Berman earlier. Earlier in the program a handwriting analyst concluded that both documents had been written by the same person.
The finale continues with Durst denying that he had written the “cadaver” letter. The interview concludes and he leaves to go to the men’s room, his cordless mic still attached. In the bathroom, Durst begins speaking to himself, something he often did, and can be heard muttering the apparently self-incriminating words.
“We thought we were done at the end the interview and he reacted in a strong way to the material that we showed him,” Jarecki said on the news program, “and then he got up and said good-bye and we thought that was the end. But his microphone kept recording. We always leave the microphone on him. He knows that, and he went to the bathroom while it was recording.
“It wasn’t until months later that we had an editor listening to material that we had left behind, thinking, now we have to listen to everything we got, we ‘re about to finish the series and we discovered that we had this shocking piece of audio…It was obviously, for us, a shock because it was many months since we had down with him.”
The film maker said the “authorities were never communicating with us other than in their normal cordial way. They were going through their investigation.” But questioned by King, he added that the authorities have “had that audio for many months.”
The timing of Durst’s arrest, on the eve of the final episode of The Jinx, already has been questioned by his longtime defense attorney Dick DeGuerin, and will surely be an issue in the upcoming trial or trials.
Here is the announcement from L.A. District Attorney’s Office:
New York real estate heir Robert Durst was charged today with the 2000 murder of his friend, Susan Berman, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Durst (dob 4/12/43) is charged in case SA089983 with one count of first-degree murder with the special circumstances of murder of a witness and lying in wait and gun use allegations. Durst, who was arrested Saturday by FBI agents in New Orleans, is being held without bail.
Deputy District Attorneys John Lewin and Habib Balian with the Major Crimes Division are assigned to the case. Prosecutors have been working closely with the Los Angeles Police Department for the past two years investigating the cold case murder.
Durst is charged with murdering Berman on or about Dec. 23, 2000. Her body was discovered in her Benedict Canyon home on Christmas Eve.
Durst waived extradition at his appearance today in a New Orleans court. He will be brought back to Los Angeles at a future date for arraignment.
The capital murder charge makes Durst eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek death.
The case remains under investigation by LAPD.