One of the most strange moments in television history nearly got missed on a cutting room floor. And if it hadn’t been for the strange predilection of a multimillionaire to talk to himself constantly — and forgetting that he was miked up — it might not have happened at all. Robert Durst had long been suspected of committing several murders, including that of former friend Susan Berman, and HBO created a miniseries called “The Jinx” about Durst and the Berman case. They accidentally solved the case, thanks to the ears of an editor who decided to make one last pass through all of the material for the documentary series:
The New York Post’s report states the obvious:
He should have kept his mouth shut.
Bizarre real estate heir and longtime murder suspect Robert Durst was arrested on murder charges Saturday based on evidence from an HBO documentary series in which he blabbed about himself, sources told The Post.
He then compounded his mistake in the show’s final episode on Sunday when he made what appeared to be a confession into a microphone he apparently did not realize was live, saying, “What the hell did I do? . . . Killed them all of course.”
Durst, 71, was busted Saturday in New Orleans on a first-degree murder warrant tied to the execution-style slaying of his writer pal Susan Berman in Los Angeles shortly before Christmas 2000.
Durst may provide years’ worth of research to universities to study the mind of a self-defeating killer. It might overstate his status previous to cooperating with HBO to say he’d gotten away with the murders. Police still considered him a suspect, and there are no statutes of limitation on murder, so they may have arrested him at some point anyway. He’d certainly succeeded in postponing that day of reckoning, though, and might have done so indefinitely had he just clammed up.
So why did he talk — to HBO, and then to himself while wearing the live mic? He, er, wanted to set the record straight, according to Zach Seward at Quartz:
Jarecki had his go at convenient narratives in his 2010 film All Good Things, a loosely fictionalized account of the disappearance of Durst’s wife. The movie all but convicted the main character, which is apparently what motivated Durst to sit for interviews with Jarecki and discuss the crimes in detail for the first time.
“I will be able to tell it my way,” Durst explained to the filmmakers in an early episode.
Well, mission accomplished, dude. I haven’t seen any of this series until now, but it might make for a pretty good binge view in light of what happened over the weekend. Somewhere, there’s an editor who deserves a big, fat raise.