The Jinx is seen by many as the catalyst for Durst’s arrest and has been praised for its investigative work
Andrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling and Zachary Stuart-Pontier are the men behind The Jinx. Jarecki was the main face of the show, and spent more than 20 hours interviewing Durst for the series, which was recorded between 2010 and 2013. Jarecki had previously directed the 2010 crime drama All Good Things, starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst, which is based on Durst’s life and curiously, Durst himself contacted Jarecki after seeing the movie and offered to be interviewed. Jarecki’s debut lm was another documentary that garnered him widespread attention: Capturing The Friedmans told the tale of a family accused of child abuse and earned him an Oscar nomination in 2003.
The Jinx is seen by many as the catalyst for Durst’s arrest and has been praised for its investigative work. In the documentary, for example, the lmmakers ask a handwriting expert to analyse a letter sent by Berman’s killer to police soon after her shooting, and compare it to another letter sent to Berman by Durst. Some 14 years earlier, in the Susan Berman murder trial, an LA handwriting expert had stated there was no match between Durst’s handwriting and that on the letter from the killer, and only changed his mind in 2003 when Durst was already on trial for the murder of Morris Black. Yet it doesn’t take the expert hired by The Jinx so long to declare they were both written by the same person.
But questions quickly surfaced concerning the show’s timeline and continuity, not to mention the timing of Durst’s arrest the night before the nale. Some went as far as to ask if Jarecki and the crew held back the confession to make for more impactful TV and bigger viewing gures. But did this mean they’d knowingly let a man who’d potentially confessed to three murders walk free? Just to boost ratings?
It took less than 24 hours before US press started to nd holes in the show. New York Times reporter Charles Bagli, who was interviewed for The Jinx, tweeted that the second Durst interview took place in 2012, and not in 2013 as the show implied. The editing of the episode led many to believe that the meeting took place in 2013, not long after Durst was arrested for breaking a restraining order put on him by Douglas, by visiting his house for the show – US website Buzzfeed reported that Jarecki and Durst even appear to be wearing the same clothes in the two scenes, even though they were lmed a year apart.
Jarecki, it was reported, started talking to investigators in Los Angeles back in 2013, but says the taped confession wasn’t found until June 2014. “I don’t know if you’ve ever edited anything – things get loaded into the editing machine but not everything gets loaded,” said Jarecki. “The sound recorder isn’t listening after a guy gets up and says he wants a sandwich. It often doesn’t get marked and get loaded. That didn’t get loaded for quite a while. We hired some new assistants and they were going through some old material. That was quite a bit later. Let me look at my list. It was June 12, 2014.”
What sounds like a plausible explanation hasn’t convinced everyone, although Jarecki quickly rebuffed accusations of creative editing. “It was obviously for us a shock because it was many months since we had sat down with him, and then after sitting down with him we thought, well, we’ve got this sort of revelation, which is he was unable to determine which of the two handwritings that we were showing him was his own and, in fact, we think both of them were his own,” he told CBS. “Then after that he got up and it was not until many months later that we actually realised that the more interesting revelation might have been the secret revelation.”
So while Jarecki claimed it was “many months”, before they found the alleged confession tape, it meant that if Durst was last interviewed in 2012, the recording went undiscovered for around two years, and only became
public knowledge in the lead-up to the show’s nale a year after its discovery. Jarecki was quick to point out they had nothing to hide, yet it only took until March 16, one day after The Jinx nal episode aired, for him and his team to cancel all other interviews, including an appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show. “Given that we are likely to be called as witnesses in any case law enforcement may decide to bring against Robert Durst, it is not appropriate for us to comment further on these pending matters,” said Jarecki and Smerling in a statement. “We can conrm that evidence (including the envelope and the washroom recording) was turned over to authorities months ago.”
What of the subject of the TV show? Durst was arrested in New Orleans on those gun and drugs charges and is currently facing extradition to California to face the charges of killing Susan Berman – and, despite being in prison, he’s hardly been out of the headlines since. Footage was obtained by the media of Durst urinating on a rack of sweets at a drug store in 2014, an act that saw him charged with misdemeanour criminal mischief. He’s currently still in New Orleans on two weapons charges, even though his lawyers claim he wants to get to LA as soon as possible to prove he didn’t execute Berman. Meanwhile, the feud with his brother goes on, with Douglas attempting to freeze 74 million of Robert’s fortune and claiming his older sibling leaked family secrets to Jarecki during lming for The Jinx. The FBI are also interested in why a New York woman called Susan Giordano, who they think Durst is romantically linked to, sent him a package containing 117,000 shortly before his arrest in March. Giordano claims they’re just friends. Finally, there’s Durst’s legal team’s opinion of his end of show ‘confession’. His attorney Chip Lewis was quick to suggest Durst’s remarks might not actually mean anything. “Your honesty would lead you to say you’ve said things under your breath before that you probably didn’t mean,” he told Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, who, ironically, was also interviewed for The Jinx because she had been the district attorney in New York who reopened the Kathie Durst case. One thing is for sure, though – if Durst is found guilty of murder in California, he won’t be spending more time in prison, he’ll be facing the death penalty.
Right: Durst recreates his battle with Morris Black. The jury agreed with his self-defence plea and acquitted him of murder