Robert Durst: 'Killed Them All, of Course'
Did the former real estate scion confess to multiple homicides on an HBO docuseries?
It almost sounded like a confession.
At the end of Robert Durst’s final interview for the HBO docuseries The Jinx, he headed into the bathroom while fully miked. Seemingly unaware that he was being recorded, he talked to himself. “You’re caught,” he mumbled. “You’re right, of course. But, you can t imagine. Arrest him.”
“What the hell did I do?” he continued. “Killed them all, of course.”
It’s unclear whether this was a confession, but the FBI did arrest Durst on Saturday afternoon in New Orleans. (The FBI had been investigating Durst separately from the documentary, and there’s no evidence that it arrested him because of his confession on Sunday’s episode.)
The arrest may have come at the right time. Durst seemingly had all the tools for a clean getaway.
According to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation, Durst had checked into a Marriott in New Orleans under a false name. In his possession, according to the source: a fake passport, other falsified documents and a large amount of cash.
“It was obvious that he planned to get the hell out of Dodge,” says the law enforcement source, noting that Durst was arrested on a capital murder warrant. “It was the first day that the New Orleans airport was offering flights to Cuba, so that’s where we think he was going.”
Durst, 71, is accused of killing his friend Susan Berman, who was found shot execution-style in her California home in 2000.
It’s not Durst’s only brush with the law. He has widely been suspected in the 1982 disappearance of his wife, Kathleen Durst. In 2001, he was arrested for the murder and dismemberment of his neighbor Morris Black. He was later acquitted.
Detective Cody Cazalas, who investigated the murder of Black, tells PEOPLE that he was “ecstatic” at the news of Durst’s arrest.
“When we were investigating the murder of Morris Black, we always thought that he had something to do with the murder of Susan Berman,” says Cazalas. “She said she was going to talk to investigators about him, and then right before she could, she was murdered. He was always a person of interest.”
It doesn’t matter to me whether he’s arrested in Los Angeles, New York, Texas, if the FBI arrests him, whatever,” continues Cazalas. “All that matters is that he’s off the street, because he’s dangerous. He looks like an old, frail man now, and I get that. But you don’t have to be strong to pull a trigger.”
A friend of Kathleen shared a similar sentiment. “I’m relieved,” she tells PEOPLE. “Very relieved.”
Durst’s estranged brother agrees. “We are relieved and also grateful to everyone who assisted in the arrest of Robert Durst,” Douglas Durst said in a statement. “We hope he will finally be held accountable for all he has done.”
Reaction to Durst’s arrest from observers was equally swift – and strong. According to Matt Birkbeck, author of A Deadly Secret: The Strange Disappearance of Kathie Durst, “This was a long time coming, and Kathie Durst’s family has been waiting for over 30 years for movement on the case. The fact the FBI is involved gives me more confidence they will get a conviction as opposed to what happened in Galveston.”
In 2003, a Texas jury acquitted Durst of murdering Morris Black, although Durst admitted to chopping up Black’s body and dumping the remains into Galveston Bay.
“In Galveston,” said Birkbeck, “it was a local prosecution led by somewhat incompetent prosecutors who faced a dream team of attorneys, and together with a questionable jury, Bobby got off. Now, with the Berman case, the FBI has been involved since 2010, and they have been working with different law enforcement agencies and assembling info about Durst. They are leaving no stone unturned, and the first ball to drop was Berman.”
Joseph Becerra, investigator for New York State Police bureau of criminal investigations, told PEOPLE that the bureau will be monitoring developments.
“We’re going to monitor the Los Angeles case closely, and hopefully it will lead to some resolution regarding our investigation.
“The New York State Police and Westchester District Attorney’s office are still investigating the disappearance of Kathleen Durst,” he says. “It’s still an open investigation.”
• Additional reporting by ELAINE ARADILLAS, K.C. BAKER, LIZ MCNEIL, MICHAEL MILLER and STEPHEN M. SILVERMAN