Overview: 2000: Susan Berman (pictured) was the daughter of a famous Las Vegas mobster, Davey “The Jew” Berman, who was a partner with “Bugsy” Siegel in The Flamingo Hotel. Robert Durst’s closest friend since they attended UCLA together, she had a mobster’s mentality and matching code of ethics; people said she would do anything for a friend. Since Kathie Durst’s disappearance two decades earlier, Robert Durst had been the subject of media and public scrutiny, and she had become his spokesperson to the media. Some say that Robert and Susan kept each other’s secrets, and that if anyone knew what happened to Kathie, it would be Susan. When a random tip leads ambitious Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro to re-open the investigation into the disappearance of Kathie Durst, her investigators focus on Susan Berman, a witness the police had overlooked back in 1982. But before the police are able to speak with her, Susan is found murdered – shot in the back of the head, execution-style. With no sign of struggle at the crime scene, police surmise her killer is likely someone who knew her well. Reviewing potential suspects, the police are unable to make a clear connection that links Robert to Susan’s death. Meanwhile, Robert reaches out and befriends his dead friend’s family, including her adopted son, Sareb.
Late 2000: With stories of the Los Angeles murder of Susan Berman receding Robert Durst is suddenly back in the news when he is arrested in Galveston, Texas for the death of his neighbor Morris Black, whose dismembered body was found in the bay.
To help keep it all clear here is a recap from Chapter 02:
Expectations: The big surprise tucked away in last week’s chapter, as we get Robert Durst’s account of the events, is his revelation that he created a false alibi and threw off suspicion. In this chapter we learn of another player that just might be involved in Kathie Durst’s disappearance. The new player is Susan Berman and it will be interesting to see how she may have been involved in the incident. Of course, that speculation will be dealt with by the law officials investigating and Kathie’s family and friends. We can be assured that Robert’s side of the story will be altogether different. The end result is the same, however, Miss Berman ends up murdered! It can’t get any more interesting.
Then the cliffhanger from Chapter 01 appears to get readdressed as we find out more about the Morris Black murder. Are you as gripped by this true-life TRUE DETECTIVE story as I am? We set up the next chapter with the following clip:
Gut Reaction: From the get-go here we learn four facts: something diabolical is going on; the authority involved had not been through in investigating the case initially; due to a tip the case reopens 18 + years later and Susan Berman becomes a person of interest. She was apparently loyal to Durst and assisted him in dealing with the scrutiny he was under. Did he confide in her truths about his past? Did he silence her? She may have known too much, but he is also a through individual with well thought out actions. I don’t see him giving her full disclosure on what he knew or what he did no matter how loyal she was to him. Plus, there is the whole angle of Miss Berman being entwined in the mob culture. If all avenues were investigated some rationale for her being whacked at someone else’s hand is quite plausible. In fact, it was stated that Durst was not suspected in her murder.
What results here is that Robert Durst proves to be a jinx on Susan Berman, though that is not a connection made in this 45 minute piece, but by this writer. The mere association with this odd fellow sealed her fate. His demeanor and situation certainly leans towards the notion that he had some hand in keeping her quiet. Is it a coincidence that the strongest lead officials had in getting some damning information on Robert Durst was silenced before she could reveal anything? It makes you wonder and makes you wonder if Kathie’s disappearance is once again at a dead end.
This episode was not as intense as the prior ones. In less than an hour we skim over the aftermath of Kathie’s disappearance and learn of the long relationship Robert had with Susan. It becomes highly speculative of what she might or might not have known about the issue or done as a consequence, that is beyond speaking on Durst’s behalf. The portions of Jarecki’s interview shown were nothing real shocking either. Durst answers everything the way you’d expect him to answer. His statements are slow in coming, and concisely stated. I mean he acts like he best be careful what he says as not to incriminate himself, right? What is surprising is how the law did not do everything it could to solve the case; it was 18 years after the fact before they checked the lake house and the lake it resides beside? Come on. Though Susan Berman proves an interesting part of the puzzle is there anything further to say about her? Is Durst going to speak more of her later on that questions his credibility or is this incident all contained in this one chapter and done?
Bonus: We have the availability of a video from ABC News with director Andrew Jarecki giving a bit more insight into THE JINX. This writer likes what it offers and so includes it here.
In Conclusion: The tail end of Chapter 03 leads us back to the dismemberment and decapitation murder of Morris Black. We are full circle and we have Robert’s Durst’s name linked with three crimes. Is there resolution in the remaining chapters? The above clip indicates that there is and this writer is more than ready for it .Chapter 3: “The Gangster’s Daughter” debuted Sunday, February 22 at 8:00pm. It also airs 02.23 at 11:00pm; 02.24 at 1:15am; 02.26 at 9:00pm and 1:30am and 02.27 at midnight. It can also be found on HBOGo.
Next Time: THE JINX has been repeating on Monday nights in primetime, but on 02.23 Chapter 03 does not air until 11:00pm so that the HBO Documentary Films: CITIZENFOUR program can debut in primetime. It airs at 9:00pm and we will review it. THE JINX Chapter 04 will debut Sunday, 03.01 at 8:00pm. Can you wait?