The song ”Fresh Blood” by The Eels – the intro to this six part mini-series by HBO – is both brilliant, chilling and foretelling. The true to life documentary opens with a Texas police officer describing the moment he pulled a torso from the Galveston river. The gut-wrenching opening scene, sets the tone for this stranger than fiction documentary which Andrew Jarecki produced as a request from Robert Durst himself.
Robert Durst – an eccentric heir to one of New York’s wealthiest real estate tycoons Seymour Durst – approached Mr Jarecki after watching a movie called All Good Things, which was based on the story of Robert Durst and his first wife Kathleen, played by Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst. Robert asked Mr. Jarecki to interview him so he could tell his story. In the late hours of January 31st 1982, Kathleen Durst disappeared, without a trace. All Kathy’s friends and family, are convinced Bob was the only suspect. However, after what seemed to be a very short amount of time, the case was dropped, due to lack of evidence.
Robert and Kathleen Durst
But, in 2000 with fresh evidence, New York State Police decided to re-open the case, which spooked Robert into thinking they would come after him, so he fled to Texas and lived as a mute elderly woman, under the pseudonym Dorothy Ciner.
Whilst living in Texas under the alias of Dorothy, Robert befriends a man called Morris Black (his landlord). During the 2003 trial for the murder and dismemberment of Mr. Black, Robert notoriously states “I didn’t kill my best friend, but I did dismember him.” Robert, tells the Jury, he was fighting over the eviction notice Morris gave him and that himself and Morris began wrestling over a gun and when they fell to the ground the gun went off, subesquently killing Morris. Robert , then goes on to explain (in his cold-hearted monotone voice) he wanted to get the body out of his apartment, so (naturally) he decided to cut him up and dump the body into the river. Unbelieveably, the jury aquits Robert of murder, based on his brilliant lawyers advice to claim he acted in self-defence.
Further along the series, we meet Susan Berman, Robert’s old friend, who was believed to have knowledge of the dissapearance of Robert’s missing wife Kathy. We then learn, Susan was found murdered execution-style in her Benedict Canyon house in California. This was another case, that was dismissed, due to lack of evidence. The only evidence the police had, was a hand written note posted to the police department. The envelope was addressed to Beverley Hills Police Department (Beverly spelt wrong). Inside the note read, 1527 Benedict Canyon, Cadaver.
And, just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, Mr. Jarecki and his crew receive a phone call from a friend of Robert’s, who claims he found damning evidence; a letter addressed to Susan Berman from Robert’s office in New York. The moment the camera closes in on the envelope, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, the hand addressed font is identical to the letter which was delivered to the Beverly police department, with the same misspelling.
The series finale, ends when Jeracki and his crew interview Robert for the final time about the handwriting on both envelopes. Jarecki, pulls out the evidence and watches as Robert squirms and nervously burps (it would seem almost to avoid the truth coming out). They end the interview when Robert is unable to answer to the eery similiarities, the cameras turn off and Bob goes to the bathroom unaware his mic is still on and begins to mutter. The final words we hear are… “There it is. You’re caught.” “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
Robert and Susan Berman
A fitting title for a stellar documentary, which aired the day before Robert was arrested and formally charged for the murder of Susan Berman. He has been denied bail and awaits his trial in New Orleans. The frustration still surrounds his wife Kathy’s dissappearance, and as much as we can guess and point our fingers towards Robert Durst, the case still remains a mystery.
What’s most frustrating from watching this documenatry is how money can literally buy your freedom. During the documentary, Robert can’t decide on the two best lawyers in Texas he wants to represent him for his trial, so he hires both of them– problem solved. Even more annoying, is how police can sometimes mishandle and show poor judgement towards evidence and their role in bringing those responsible to justice. At certain junctures, I wanted to jump into the tv and do it myself it seemed so easy and obvious what needed to be done.
We’ll be following the case of Robert Durst every step of the way and hoping he finally has to face his consequences.