Photo: Courtesy of HBO
Debuts Sunday, February 8 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO
Robert Durst, scion of NY’s billionaire real estate family has been accused of three murders over the past 30 years, but never convicted. Brilliant and reclusive, he has not spoken publicly – until now.
Debuting SUNDAY, FEB. 8 (8:00-8:40 p.m. ET/PT), the groundbreaking six-part documentary series THE JINX: THE LIFE AND DEATHS OF ROBERT DURST tracks Durst's strange history against the backdrop of unimaginable wealth and privilege. Directed and produced by Andrew Jarecki and produced and shot by Marc Smerling (the Oscar® nominees behind “Capturing the Friedmans”), it exposes long-buried information discovered during their seven-year investigation of a series of unsolved crimes, and was made with the cooperation of the man suspected of being at its center. Other episodes of THE JINX debut subsequent Sundays at the same time through March 15.
Long suspected in the notorious 1982 disappearance of his beautiful young wife, Kathie, in New York, Durst continued to raise suspicion with the unsolved 2000 murder of Susan Berman (his confidante, thought to be a key witness in the investigation into the case of Durst’s missing wife) in Beverly Hills, as well as the subsequent murder and dismemberment of neighbor Morris Black in Galveston, Texas. Durst has consistently maintained his innocence, and remains a free man today.
This unprecedented documentary event tracks Jarecki as he develops a unique relationship with Durst following the release of Jarecki’s 2010 film, “All Good Things,” a narrative feature about Durst’s life starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst. During exclusive interviews with Jarecki that were initiated by Durst himself, he talks with startling candor, revealing secrets of a case that has baffled authorities for three decades.
In addition to footage drawn from more than 20 hours’-worth of interviews with Durst, the series features a cast of fascinating characters from Durst’s life, among them: his current wife, Debrah Lee Charatan; former Westchester County district attorney Jeanine Pirro, who reopened the investigation; members of the secretive Durst family; and Durst’s legal dream team, including legendary Texas lawyer Dick DeGuerin. THE JINX is the result of nearly a decade of research by the filmmakers, who have unearthed thousands of pages of hidden documents, police files, key witnesses, never-before-seen footage and private prison recordings.
The premiere episode revisits 2001, when a dismembered corpse is found floating in trash bags in Galveston Bay, Texas. Police trace the body back to a $300-a-month rooming house, identify the victim as elderly drifter Morris Black, and discover that he had been friendly with his across-the-hall neighbor, Dorothy Ciner, a mute woman who occasionally shared her apartment with Robert Durst, a nephew from New York. When police enter the apartment and find evidence of the grisly crime, they learn that there is no Dorothy Ciner, and in fact the apartment’s only occupant has been Robert Durst – disguised as a mute woman.
Police arrest Durst at a local eyeglass store, but after he easily pays his $250,000 bail and goes on the run, they learn he is the scion of New York’s billionaire real estate family, and has a checkered past. After months as a fugitive, Durst is arrested for shoplifting a four-dollar chicken sandwich at a Wegman’s grocery store in Pennsylvania, and returns to Texas to stand trial.
Flash forward to 2012, when Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling are preparing for the theatrical release of “All Good Things.” Shortly before the premiere, Jarecki is contacted out of the blue by the reclusive Durst, who asks to see the movie. After viewing the film, Durst – who had never spoken publicly about his life or the crimes of which he’s been accused – expresses his willingness to sit down with the filmmaker for a series of interviews destined to change the case forever.
The subsequent episodes explore newly discovered information and expose secrets that span a three-decade hunt for the truth, building to a startling conclusion.
“Andrew and Marc have done a brilliant job weaving a story that is both a character study and thrilling murder mystery. It literally kept me on the edge of my seat,” says Michael Lombardo president, HBO Programming.
Jarecki says, “Over the seven years in which we pursued the story through all its unexpected revelations, uncovering the truth became an obsession. Now the audience can watch it unfold in front of them as it did for us.”
Chapter 1: “A Body in the Bay”
Debut: SUNDAY, FEB. 8 (8:00-8:40 p.m. ET/PT)
Other HBO playdates: Feb. 8 (11:30 p.m.), 9 (9:00 p.m.), 10 (11:30 p.m.), 12 (9:00 p.m., 2:55 a.m.), 13 (midnight), 14 (11:00 p.m.), 19 (8:15 p.m.) and 26 (7:30 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Feb. 11 (10:00 p.m.), 14 (1:45 p.m.), 15 (5:45 p.m.) and 22 (5:00 p.m.)
2001: A dismembered corpse is found floating in trash bags in Galveston Bay, Texas. Police trace the body back to a grisly crime scene, and arrest Robert Durst for the murder of his neighbor, Morris Black. Durst, scion of New York’s billionaire real estate family, makes bail and goes on the run. After months of eluding authorities, he is arrested again and assembles a dream team of lawyers to prepare his defense in the extraordinary case.
2012: Filmmakers Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling are preparing for the theatrical release of the feature film “All Good Things,” starring Ryan Gosling, about the life of Robert Durst. Shortly before the premiere, Jarecki is contacted out of the blue by the reclusive Durst, who asks to see the movie. After seeing the film, Durst – who has never spoken publicly about his life or the crimes of which he’s been accused – expresses his willingness to sit down with Jarecki for an extended interview.
Introduced along the way are Durst’s second wife, the inimitable Debrah Lee Charatan, and his brother, Douglas, with whom he has a lifelong rivalry.
Chapter 2: “Poor Little Rich Boy”
Debut: SUNDAY, FEB. 15 (8:00-8:40 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: Feb. 15 (11:30 p.m.), 16 (9:00 p.m.), 17 (12:50 a.m.), 19 (9:00 p.m., 2:00 a.m.), 20 (midnight) and 26 (8:15 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Feb. 18 (10:00 p.m.), 21 (1:30 p.m.) and 22 (5:45 p.m.)
2013: Durst’s interview with Jarecki begins with his childhood, when he witnessed his mother’s suicide. His father, Seymour – distant and cold, obsessed with building the Durst Organization into a real-estate behemoth and leaving his mark on the Manhattan skyline – pressures young Robert to join the family business. Durst describes his disinterest in following in his father’s footsteps, and recalls meeting Kathie McCormack, a beautiful girl from a modest background. The couple fall in love and move to Vermont, where they lead a simple life and run a health-food store called All Good Things. But not long after, Seymour prevails and Robert returns to New York to take his place at the powerful Durst Organization.
1982: Robert and Kathie have been married for nearly ten years, during which they have moved from their idyllic life in Vermont back to New York City. They divide their time between a penthouse apartment on Riverside Drive, and an upstate house on picturesque Lake Truesdale, 50 miles north of Manhattan. After a weekend at the lake house, Durst walks into the 20th Precinct and tells desk sergeant Michael Struk that he hasn’t seen his wife in five days. He says that when he last saw her, he was putting her on a train in Katonah to return to NYC for medical school classes. The details of their last weekend together are a subject of much controversy by those who know the couple. Believing Robert knows more about Kathie’s fate than he is letting on, her family and friends embark on a hunt for the truth.
Chapter 3: “The Gangster’s Daughter”
Debut: SUNDAY, FEB. 22 (8:00-8:40 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: Feb. 22 (11:30 p.m.), 23 (11:00 p.m.), 24 (1:15 a.m.), 26 (9:00 p.m., 1:30 a.m.) and 27 (midnight)
HBO2 playdates: Feb. 25 (10:00 p.m.) and 28 (2:35 p.m.)
2000: Susan Berman was the daughter of a famous Las Vegas mobster, Davey “The Jew” Berman, who was a partner with “Bugsy” Siegel in The Flamingo Hotel. Robert Durst’s closest friend since they attended UCLA together, she had a mobster’s mentality and matching code of ethics; people said she would do anything for a friend. Since Kathie Durst’s disappearance two decades earlier, Robert Durst had been the subject of media and public scrutiny, and she had become his spokesperson to the media. Some say that Robert and Susan kept each other’s secrets, and that if anyone knew what happened to Kathie, it would be Susan.
When a random tip leads ambitious Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro to re-open the investigation into the disappearance of Kathie Durst, her investigators focus on Susan Berman, a witness the police had overlooked back in 1982. But before the police are able to speak with her, Susan is found murdered – shot in the back of the head, execution-style. With no sign of struggle at the crime scene, police surmise her killer is likely someone who knew her well. Reviewing potential suspects, the police are unable to make a clear connection that links Robert to Susan’s death. Meanwhile, Robert reaches out and befriends his dead friend’s family, including her adopted son, Sareb.
Late 2000: With stories of the Los Angeles murder of Susan Berman receding, Robert Durst is suddenly back in the news when he is arrested in Galveston, Texas for the death of his neighbor Morris Black, whose dismembered body was found in the bay.