D.A. reopening inquiry into death of ‘The Jinx’s’ Susan Berman, report says

A photo of Susan Berman from the dust jacket of her book "Lady Las Vegas."
A photo of Susan Berman from the dust jacket of her book “Lady Las Vegas.”
(Gerardo Somoza/Polaris)

The Los Angeles County district attorney has reportedly reopened an investigation into the slaying of Susan Berman.

Investigators have recently begun interviewing witnesses in New York about Berman, who was shot dead in her Benedict Canyon home in December 2000, according to the New York Times.

Q&A: The Durst-Berman murder mystery

Berman’s murder is explored in the documentary series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” which is airing on HBO. The program from acclaimed documentarian Andrew Jarecki is centered on Durst, the eldest son in a wealthy and powerful Manhattan real estate family. His ties to three mysterious deaths -- including that of Berman -- have made him a figure of tabloid infamy. Sunday’s episode ended with the discovery of evidence that appears to tie Durst even more directly to Berman’s death.


Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey’s office had no comment on the report.

Berman, the daughter of a notorious Las Vegas mobster, was a close confidante of Durst’s and acted as an informal spokesperson for him when his first wife, Kathie Durst, went missing in 1982. Berman was killed shortly before she was due to speak to authorities in New York about disappearance of Kathie Durst, who is presumed dead.

Beverly Hills police received an anonymous letter postmarked Dec. 23, 2000, the day it is believed Berman was killed, alerting them to the presence of a “cadaver” at her home. The address on the envelope was written in distinctive block letters and included the misspelled word “Beverley.”

Less than a year after Berman died, Robert Durst was arrested in connection with the slaying of Morris Black, his elderly neighbor in Galveston, Texas. Durst jumped bail but soon turned up at a Pennsylvania grocery store, where police said he was caught shoplifting a chicken sandwich and a Band-Aid. Durst admitted to killing and dismembering Black and throwing his body into Galveston Bay, but he claimed self-defense and was found not guilty in the case.


In the episode of “The Jinx” that aired Sunday, Berman’s stepson Sareb Kaufman finds a letter written from Durst to Berman in March 1999 among her belongings. Clearly troubled, he shares it with “Jinx” producer Marc Smerling, who notes in a phone call to director Jarecki that it is “exactly like the cadaver note, down to the misspelling of Beverly.”

“Do you think you have an answer now?” Smerling asks Kaufman, who replies, “I do.”

Jarecki also directed “Capturing the Friedmans,” a documentary about a father and son convicted of child molestation. The Oscar-nominated film raised questions about the guilt of son Jesse Friedman and spurred legal developments that remain ongoing.

“That to me is when it gets the most interesting, when you’re working on something and there’s a real-world impact,” Jarecki said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times last month.


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