Millionaire arrested for murder after interview on film

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Millionaire arrested for murder after interview on film

NEW ORLEANS - Robert Durst, an eccentric millionaire from one of America’s wealthiest families, was arrested on a murder warrant just before Sunday’s finale of a serial documentary about his links to three sensational killings.

FBI agents arrested Durst at a New Orleans hotel Saturday on a warrant from Los Angeles for the murder of a mobster’s daughter 15 years ago, authorities said.

Durst was ordered held without bond pending another hearing Monday. His lawyer, Chip Lewis, said Durst will agree to be taken to Los Angeles to face the first-degree murder charge.

Durst participated in the documentary, giving an extensive interview to filmmaker Andrew Jarecki for “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.’’ But Lewis said nothing his client revealed changes his innocence.

Durst’s estranged and fearful relatives thanked authorities for tracking him down.

“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 his brother, Douglas Durst, in a statement.

Durst, 71, has always maintained his innocence in the 2000 murder of Susan Berman, whose father was an associate of Las Vegas mobsters Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky.

Berman, a writer who became Durst’s spokeswoman, was killed at her home with a bullet to the back of her head as New York investigators prepared to question her in the unsolved 1982 disappearance of Durst’s wife, Kathleen.

The climax of last week’s episode revealed a hand-written address on a letter, recovered by the slain woman’s relative, that Durst had sent to Berman. The handwriting seems virtually identical to an anonymous letter alerting Beverly Hills police to a “cadaver’’ in Berman’s home. Even the word “Beverly’’ is misspelled as “Beverley’’ on both documents.

Durst observes in the documentary that only Berman’s killer could have sent the letter to police.

The Los Angeles Police said the arrest resulted from “investigative leads and additional evidence that has come to light in the last year.’’

Lewis said he has no doubt the arrest was orchestrated in coordination with HBO’s broadcast of the final episode.

After Berman’s death, Durst moved to Texas, where he lived as a mute woman in a boarding house until his arrest in 2001 after dismembered parts of the body of his elderly neighbor, Morris Black, were found floating in Galveston Bay.

Durst then became a fugitive until he was caught shoplifting in Pennsylvania, even though he had $500 cash in his pocket and $37,000 in his rental car - along with two guns and marijuana.

Lewis told the jury that Durst shot Black in self-defense and suffered from Asperger’s syndrome. Despite admitting that he used a paring knife, two saws and an axe to dismember Black’s body before dumping the remains, Durst was acquitted of murder.

Durst “has been incredibly lucky that so many people who’ve investigated him have dropped the ball, but I think that luck may be running out,’’ said Former Galveston County District Court Judge Susan Criss, who presided over the Texas murder trial.

The Durst family is worth at least $4 billion, according to the Forbes list of richest Americans.

The oldest son of the late real estate mogul Seymour Durst, whose Durst Corporation manages 1 World Trade Center, Robert Durst became estranged from his family when his brother Douglas was chosen instead of him to run the family business.

Jarecki told a fictionalized version of Durst’s story in “All Good Things,’’ a 2010 film starring Ryan Gosling. Then he got a call from Durst himself, who wanted to see it and eventually agreed to talk on camera. AP
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