A Texas search warrant made public on Wednesday reveals decade-old evidence against Robert Durst in the killing of Susan Berman and raises disturbing questions about the Los Angeles Police Department’s lack of action against him at the time.
The question is: Why did L.A. law enforcement fail to prosecute Robert Durst before?
The warrant, used to search Durst’s house in Houston, Texas, this week, discloses a veritable pile of evidence against the real estate heir, who was finally charged with the murder of his friend Berman last week.
But that only came after a six-part HBO documentary, “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” unearthed an envelope sent by Durst to Berman with handwriting that is a near-identical match to one sent to police by Berman’s killer in 2000, complete with the misspelling of “Beverley” when describing Beverly Hills. The series ends with a stunning confession by Durst, speaking to himself in a bathroom with a live microphone: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
The search warrant revealed that the LAPD had handwriting evidence similar to “The Jinx” director Andrew Jarecki’s back in 2002, along with expert opinion that pointed to Durst as Berman’s killer.
Here are the many pieces of evidence disclosed by the search warrant:
- DURST’S HANDWRITING: Two experts confirmed that the handwriting on the cadaver envelope was probably Durst’s. Document Examiner William Leaver did so in 2002. After one analysis suggested that Berman’s manager Nyle Brenner might have written the cadaver letter, Leaver looked at Durst’s writing samples and changed his view. “Detective Whelan advised me that Leaver said that ‘it is probable’ that Durst was the author of the cadaver letter.” A second expert from the Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services examined the letter in 2003 and concluded that Durst “is probably the author of the cadaver letter and envelope.”
- DURST’S MOTIVE: An anonymous, typed letter was sent to Beverly Hills police from New York just days after Berman’s killing titled “Possible motive for Susan Berman murder.” The letter, sent January 11, indicated “that Susan Berman had suspected Robert Durst of being involved in Kathleen Durst’s disappearance and that Robert Durst was planning to visit Susan Berman in late December, around the time Susan was killed.” Furthermore, Berman told her friend Hillary Johnson that Durst had sent her a check for $25,000, suggesting that she needed money.
- DURST’S WHEREABOUTS: When Durst was on trial for the murder of Morris Black in Galveston, Texas, he was questioned on the stand about his whereabouts in December 2000, when Susan Berman was killed. According to the search warrant, “Durst stated under oath that he returned to the east coast and spent Christmas with his new wife Deborah Charatan.” But Charatan, who married Durst only a few days earlier on December 11, told police that she never saw Durst over Christmas, the time when Berman was killed. “Detective Whelan also informed me that at the time of Berman’s murder, Charatan and Durst were not together and she stated she did not know his whereabouts during the Christmas Holidays of 2000.” Berman was found dead on December 24, 2000. The warrant says that LAPD possessed an American Express credit card statement that showed Durst flew from San Francisco to New York City at 10 pm on December 23, and arrived at JFK early December 24.
So with all this evidence, why didn’t the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office indict Durst? They’re not talking. A spokesman for the LAPD told TheWrap the police department isn’t commenting either.
The litany of evidence and lack of action are disturbing. Even more troublesome is the clear suggestion that Jarecki’s documentary roused the LAPD to action.
According to the search warrant, in 2014 the LAPD engaged Forensic Document Examiner Lloyd Cunningham and independent Forensic Document Examiner Linton Mohammed to look at the envelopes in question. Both concluded that Durst had written the cadaver note:
“Mohammed agreed with Cunningham’s conclusions and opinions and also identified Robert Durst… as the author of the cadaver letter and envelope,” says the search warrant.
LAPD, District Attorney — can we get some answers please?