In the process of making a bit of journalism, “The Jinx”, some say HBO’s answer to the “Serial” podcast, Andrew Jarecki unravels a decades old murder case while producing a documentary. His methodical investigation laid out all the facts that were known, and exposed a few that lay under the surface.
They remained under the surface for 15 years, vital writing and spelling samples that led directly to Robert Durst, and for the most part make a very strong case for arresting him for murder, which apparently happened today.
In Manson’s infamous case, Benedict Canyon was also a central location, being the site of the Cielo Drive house where the Manson Family members brutally murdered a pregnant Sharon Tate, among others. In HBO’s “The Jinx”, the address was written in an enormously revealing hand, the hand of the killer, and apparently the hand of Robert Durst who has been evading prosecution for a set of crimes spanning more than 30 years. Bugliosi was a district attorney, but Jarecki was a filmmaker, it’s true. Still, he found what the detectives and police could not, and now a man is sitting in jail for things he has denied taking part in for a very long time.
Jarecki’s crew uncovered clues that should have been obvious, in hindsight, to the investigative parties 15 years ago. The same investigative powers that failed to see the connections laid bare on the show, and allowed a man who is likely responsible for the murders of three people to walk free.
Bugliosi, as district attorney in the Mansion murder case, saw a film crew, this time for a local news station, finding key evidence scattered in the hills around the Canyon, leading to valuable clues that were overlooked by police in that historic case.
In the HBO documentary mini series, “The Jinx”, Andrew Jarecki uncovers a writing sample that exactly matches a note that tipped off Beverly Hills police to the location of a body. Even Durst himself acknowledged that “Only the killer” could have written the note, as only the killer would have known of the location and state of the deceased. In this case the deceased was Susan Berman, an acquaintance of Durst’s who seems to he known too much. Durst’s own writing samples, taken from a litany of documents was matched up by a professional writing analyst, and was found to contain some very strong similarities.
As I was watching the last episode of The Jinx today, I had the spoiler moment of a lifetime. I made an internet search for the Beverly Hills address involved, and noticed news stories saying Durst had been arrested. My jaw dropped.
Here was a man who had already admitted to dismembering a body, and walked out of a murder trial acquitted, getting arrested for crimes he just admitted to on camera. Also accused of making his wife disappear, he has thus far escaped any real prison time. He has served 5 and a half months on a gun charge, but this obviously pales in what the justice system likely has in store for him now, with this new arrest.
I suppose now his defense will say that was not an admission, but I cannot imagine how they could make that fly in court.
After an interview with Jarecki, Durst enters a restroom wearing a microphone he obviously did not know was still active. The mic captures a conversation he has with himself in the privacy of the bathroom:
“There it is. You’re caught. You’re right, of course. But, you can’t imagine. Arrest him. [sink sounds.] I don’t know what’s in the house. Oh, I want this. What a disaster. He was right. I was wrong. And the burping. [Restroom noises.] I’m having difficulty with the question.”
“What the hell did I do? Killed them all of course.”
To me, this was a chilling piece of real journalism. It was called an answer to Serial, a popular podcast about an old Baltimore murder that already had someone behind bars. I think The Jinx was much better. Serial left with an inconclusive feeling, nothing new was learned, nothing was uncovered. In this HBO Series, there was definitely movement in the real world. Talk about making an impact, this show made one that the families of the victims, and Mr. Durst will definitely feel.