Following Durst arrest, HBO airs stunning “Jinx” finale

Following the arrest of Robert Durst on March 14, the finale of Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling's HBO series The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst ended with a dramatic twist. (Pictured: The Jinx)
March 16, 2015

The March 15th finale of Andrew Jarecki’s six-part HBO docuseries The Jinx: the Life and Deaths of Robert Durst delivered on the network’s promise of a “dramatic conclusion,” following earlier events that unfolded over the weekend involving the series’ focal point.

As previously reported, the 71-year-old real estate heir was arrested on Saturday (March 14) in New Orleans on a warrant issued by Los Angeles County in connection with a murder investigation. According to a statement from the LAPD obtained by the Los Angeles Times, the case in question involves the 2000 murder of Susan Berman, a long-time confidante of Durst’s who may have had knowledge concerning the 1982 disappearance of his wife Kathleen.

In its second-last episode, the docuseries revealed a never-before-seen letter written from Durst to Berman in March 1999. The handwriting of the letter – discovered among her belongings by Berman’s stepson Sareb Kaufman – bore a similarity to a letter sent to Beverly Hills police around the time of Berman’s murder, alerting them to the body.

As previously reported, Durst was arrested and later acquitted for the 2001 murder and dismemberment of his neighbor. The Jinx, produced with his full cooperation, was the first time he had spoken publicly about the various cases.

The docuseries – which debuted on February 8 – follows Jarecki as he develops a relationship with Durst, reveals hidden documents, police files, key witnesses, never-before-seen footage and private prison recordings. The timeline of The Jinx covers the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s wife in New York, the 2000 murder of Berman in Beverly Hills, and the murder and dismemberment of Durst’s neighbor in Galveston, Texas. Durst has continued to maintain his innocence in connection with the cases.

Following the arrest, the docuseries’ official Facebook page featured a link to a New York Times article on Durst’s arrest accompanied with an update that read, “The truth will be revealed in the dramatic conclusion of The Jinx.” As it happened, the 40-minute finale featured the filmmakers presenting Durst with the two letters and asking for his comments on the similarities of the handwriting. It closed with a scene in which Durst, still wearing a wireless microphone while using the washroom following the interview session, is heard to whisper to himself: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

In an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, filmmaker Andrew Jarecki says he and partner Marc Smerling didn’t discover the bathroom recording until some time after that last on-camera interview with Durst, when the team needed to bring more editors on board to sift through the volumes of audio recordings. “One of the editors came back and said, ‘I think I found something,’” Jarecki told Good Morning America on Monday.

“It was so chilling to hear it, it was disturbing to hear it,” he said. “It makes you very uncomfortable to hear it.”

The network issued a statement on Sunday, which read: “We simply cannot say enough about the brilliant job that Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling did in producing The Jinx. Years in the making, their thorough research and dogged reporting reignited interest in Robert Durst’s story with the public and law enforcement.”

Speaking to The Washington Post, Durst’s attorney Chip Lewis said: “He’s maintained his innocence for 10 years now. Nothing has changed.”

With files from Kevin Ritchie, Manori Ravindran.

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.