LOS ANGELES >> New York real estate heir Robert Durst knew he was suspected in the Los Angeles killing of his best friend, but he never fled when he had the chance because years had passed and he didn’t think police would come after him, according to court documents released Friday.
Durst was asked why he didn’t split after documentary filmmakers confronted him in 2012 with a letter anonymously sent to police in 2000 tipping them to the location of Susan Berman’s body that matched handwriting on a letter he had sent her years before.
“You saw the envelopes. How come you didn’t … leave then?” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney John Lewin asked. “It’s mind-boggling to me.”
“I guess inertia,” Durst replied. “I just didn’t really, really, really think that I was gonna end up arrested.”
The comment was one of several that hinted at his involvement in three suspected killings chronicled in the documentary “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” but Durst stopped short of confessing to any of them. The documents detail his interrogation by Los Angeles prosecutors while he was in custody in New Orleans after his arrest March 15 last year on a charge of murder in Berman’s death.
Durst acknowledged he was in the process of fleeing when he was arrested. He was found in a hotel with a false Texas ID, stacks of $100 bills, bags of marijuana, a .38-caliber revolver, a map folded to show Louisiana and Cuba, and a flesh-toned latex mask with salt-and-pepper hair.
“I was the worst fugitive the world has ever met,” he said.
His arrest came the day the final installment of the six-part series aired on HBO. After being confronted with the two identical-looking envelopes, the documentary ended with Durst going into a bathroom where his live microphone captured him muttering to himself: “There it is. You’re caught! What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
Durst, 73, told Lewin that he took meth during his interviews with the filmmakers and had smoked pot every day of his life.
The series traced the mysterious disappearance of his wife, Kathleen Durst, in New York in 1982, his acquittal on murder charges in the 2001 dismemberment killing of a neighbor Galveston, Texas, and the killing of Berman in Los Angeles as she was about to speak with prosecutors investigating his wife’s suspected slaying.
When asked why he cooperated with the makers of “The Jinx,” Durst said he felt filmmaker Andrew Jarecki had been sympathetic toward him in a feature-length film, “All Good Things,” about his wife’s disappearance. He gave Jarecki and his partner, Marc Smerling, two lengthy interviews and provided access to boxes of documents so they would get the full picture of his life.
“I wanted them to see the whole thing,” Durst said. “That they would see me as an acceptable human being, as opposed to all this other stuff.”
The 110-page transcript of his interrogation was included to bolster a motion filed by prosecutors asking a judge to appoint a “special master” to sort through the boxes of seized documents to separate material that might be protected by lawyer-client confidentiality.
Defense attorneys would not comment. But the motion filed by prosecutors said the defense claims the interview with Durst after his arrest was improper, his statements were not voluntary and prosecutors knew he had lawyers and should not have interviewed him.
Throughout the interrogation, Lewin complimented Durst, telling him he was brilliant and the most interesting suspect he’d ever investigated. He prodded and coaxed and constantly pushed for a confession.
“I know that when you killed Susan, that was not something you wanted to do,” Lewin said.
“Um, I’m gonna stay away from killing Susan,” Durst replied.
Toward the end of the interview, Durst negotiated with Lewin on what he could get in exchange for providing more information, though he acknowledged at his advanced age and poor health there wasn’t much the prosecutor could offer.
He’d been told that his missing wife’s mother, Ann McCormack, was 101 years old and he said he would like to do something for her family.
“I think what you wanted to hear — to make Ann McCormack happy — is … ‘What did you do with Kathie?’ And I think you want me to go through details of, of Susan. … Now, what would I ask for?”
Lewin said he had no control over where Durst would be imprisoned, but he gave his word he would recommend a better place.
“I’m hoping that there’s a part of you in there that is saying, ‘You know what? I can’t undo what I’ve done in the past. But I can try to — I don’t have many years left.’ Will you at least think about that?”
Durst said he would.