After HBO film, wealthy eccentric arrested for murder

Robert Durst -- linked to two killings as well as the mysterious disappearance of his wife -- was arrested Sunday in New Orleans for murder, just before the finale of a documentary about the killings aired.

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    Robert Durst, seen here in a 2014 file photo, is accused of murdering his girlfriend in 2000. He was just arrested after an HBO documentary aired on the killings.
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Robert Durst, a wealthy eccentric linked to two killings and his wife's disappearance, was arrested on a murder warrant just before Sunday's finale in a serial documentary about his life.

Durst was arrested by FBI agents Saturday at a J.W. Marriott hotel in New Orleans, on a Los Angeles warrant for the murder of Susan Berman 15 years ago, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

Durst, 71, has never been charged in connection with the unsolved 2000 murder of Berman in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, who was killed as New York authorities prepared to question her in the 1982 disappearance of his wife, Kathie.

He moved to Texas after Berman's death, where he lived as a woman before being acquitted in the 2001 dismemberment death of his Galveston neighbor, Morris Black. Durst said that killing was in self-defense.

Durst, whose father made billions in New York real estate, has always denied involvement in his wife's disappearance or Berman's murder.

Defense lawyer Chip Lewis, who successfully defended Durst in the Texas killing, said his client will waive extradition and be transported to Los Angeles to face the charges.

"He's maintained his innocence for years," Lewis said. "Nothing has changed."

The arrest came on the eve of Sunday's broadcast on HBO of the final episode of "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst."

The documentary's filmmaker Andrew Jarecki told The Associated Press that Durst is a strange but smart man who has long feuded with his wealthy family.

"The story is so operatic," Jarecki said. "That's what's so fascinating to me — seeing someone who is born to such privilege and years later is living in a $300-a-month rooming house in Galveston, Texas, disguised as a mute woman."

Lewis, the attorney, said the arrest was orchestrated by Hollywood to come before the final episode.

"No doubt," he said. "It's all about Hollywood now."

Lewis said he was familiar with the Berman killing and wasn't surprised by the arrest because of the number of emails and calls he got after last week's episode aired. He said new evidence touted by producers, however, was something he was already familiar with.

"I know all about this case," Lewis said. "I have no doubt we will present a most compelling defense."

Jarecki told a Hollywood version of Durst's story in the 2010 film that starred Ryan Gosling, "All Good Things."

A week before the release of that film, Durst called Jarecki saying he wanted to see it, and eventually agreed to be interviewed by Jarecki. That footage led to the documentary series.

Jarecki said he has come to a "firm conclusion" about Durst's guilt or innocence.

HBO distributed the first two episodes in advance, making news with Durst's admission that he lied to investigators about what he did on the night of his wife's disappearance. The other episodes were kept under wraps to maintain suspense as they aired each week.

 
 
 

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