Robert Durst, the focus of HBO’s documentary series “The Jinx,” was arrested in New Orleans on Saturday on a warrant issued in connection with a homicide investigation in Los Angeles County, the FBI has confirmed.
Durst, 71, has been a suspect in the unsolved killing of a woman in Los Angeles 15 years ago. The documentary series recounts the wild details of Durst’s life — from his affluent upbringing in New York to sordid fall and imprisonment in Texas in connection with an unrelated case — has been whether one of the heirs to a real estate fortune has been involved in as many as three murders during the past 30-plus years. He is estranged from other members of his family, who have said they believe he is guilty of crimes.
“We are relieved and also grateful to everyone who assisted in the arrest of Robert Durst. We hope he will finally be held accountable for all he has done,” said Durst’s brother, Douglas Durst, in a statement.
A lawyer for Robert Durst suggested that the timing of the arrest was staged to coincide with the finale of the six-part HBO series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” which airs Sunday. Robert Durst cooperated with the filmmakers, Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling. Jarecki previously directed a fictionalized version of Durst’s story, 2010 “All Good Things.”
“It’s all about Hollywood,” Chip Lewis, lawyer for Robert Durst, told the Associated Press. Asked by the LATimes’ Richard Winton whether or not it was a coincidence that his arrest came on the day of “The Jinx” finale, Lewis said “Hell no!”
HBO praised the “Jinx” producers for helping to bring renewed attention to allegations of murder.
“We simply cannot say enough about the brilliant job that Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling did in producing ‘The Jinx, ‘ ” HBO said in a statement. “Years in the making, their thorough research and dogged reporting reignited interest in Robert Durst’s story with the public and law enforcement.”
Durst’s friend and confidante, journalist Susan Berman, was shot dead in her house in L.A.’s Benedict Canyon on Christmas Eve in 2000. Numerous questions have been raised about how much Durst knew about her death.
Last week’s episode of “Jinx” revealed what looked to be a bombshell in the Berman case: a letter from Durst that appeared to mirror the writing style on an anonymous one sent to the Beverly Hills police (both misspelled the word “Beverley”) tipping them off to Berman’s death.
Questions have also been raised about Durst’s involvement in his first wife’s disappearance in 1982 and the shooting of a neighbor in Texas in 2001, a case that led Durst to a four-year jail term on lesser charges of jumping bail and evidence tampering.
After last week’s episode of “Jinx,” it was reported that law enforcement officials in Los Angeles were reopening their investigation in regard to Durst’s possible role in Berman’s murder.
Reps for HBO would not comment on whether Durst’s arrest, which came the day before the finale’s premiere airing, will be addressed in the finale episode.
Durst was being held without bond.
Jarecki declined to comment on Durst’s arrest. But while promoting the show at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in January, he told reporters, “I will tell you that by the time you get to the end of this series, you are not going to be scratching your head. You are going to have a clear view of what you think happened.”
Durst surprisingly contacted Jarecki after the release of “All Good Things,” making himself available for a series of interviews. However, the tease for the finale indicated that Durst became concerned when he realized the exchanges would be turning more adversarial.
Jeanine Pirro, the former prosecutor-turned-Fox News Channel host featured prominently in “The Jinx,” lauded Jarecki and Smerling in an interview with Bloomberg, saying, “Their tenacity and their determination and their wit and intelligence in moving this case forward is really unparalleled. And so as you look at what has been unearthed, there’s no question that the prosecution of Robert Durst for the murder of Susan Berman is far more in play that it was six months ago.”