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How Susan Berman And Robert Durst Were Connected: What To Know Before ‘Blood & Money’ Premiere
The writer and real estate mogul were linked by a long friendship, a cryptic “cadaver” note and murder.
Financial scandals usually end badly. The worst ones end with fatalities.
The true-crime docuseries “Blood & Money,” premiering Saturday, March 11 at 9/8c on Oxygen, covers notorious cases that fall into the deadly category.
The series’ first episode traces the investigation into the Los Angeles murder of writer Susan Berman that led to her friend, the eccentric real estate tycoon Robert Durst.
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How were the two linked? Before the series launches, here’s what you need to know about this infamous case.
Who was the victim?
Susan Berman, a 55-year-old journalist and author, was found dead in her home in Los Angeles in December 2000. Police responded to a 911 call from concerned neighbors.
Berman had a bullet hole in the back of her head. She had been shot at point-blank range inside her Benedict Canyon home. “That’s like a mob type thing,” a responding officer told “Blood & Money.”
The victim’s father, David Berman, was a mobster in Las Vegas before his death in 1957. Berman wrote about her father’s life as a gangster in the 1981 book “Easy Street.”
“Investigators theorized that her death could be connected to either her family’s past... or her friend, Robert Durst,” NBC News reported in 2018.
How did Berman and Durst know each other?
Durst befriended Berman in the 1960s when they were students at the University of California Los Angeles, NBC4i.com reported. She became a writer, he became a real estate tycoon, and they stayed in each other’s lives.
Berman acted as Durst’s unofficial spokesperson when his wife Kathleen “Kathie” McCormack Durst disappeared from New York's Westchester County in 1982. Kathie’s body was never found, but she was declared legally dead in 2017.
In 1984, Durst walked her down the aisle at her marriage to Christopher Margulies, who overdosed two years later, reported the Los Angeles Times in 2015.
Berman was having financial struggles around the time she was killed, and Durst had given her $50,000, according to the NBC4 report.
What was the motive for murder?
Prosecutors asserted that Berman, who was Durst’s longtime confidante, sought to exact more money from him, according to the Associated Press.
Berman was allegedly preparing to tell police she provided a phony alibi for him after Kathie vanished in New York in 1982. The execution-style hit at her home followed.
What happened in the case?
No arrests were made in Berman’s case for more than 15 years, but eventually, Durst was charged in March 2015, NBC News reported.
The arrest was made following the conclusion of the HBO documentary, “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.” In the finale, Durst appeared to confess to Berman’s slaying and other murders, according to the NBC News report.
Durst admitted that he was one of the last people to see Berman alive in 2000. But he denied having anything to do with her murder and pleaded not guilty.
What happened at the trial?
There was almost no physical evidence connecting Durst to the slaying of Berman in Los Angeles 20 years ago, Oxygen reported in 2020.
What did link him to the execution-style hit was a cryptic note sent to police with her address and one word: “CADAVER.”
Durst told the court that he discovered Berman’s body and was concerned he’d be a suspect. Instead of calling the police, he sent a “letter telling them that Susan was dead in her house.” A misspelling in the address turned out to be key evidence.
Durst was convicted. He was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Berman on October 14, 2021.
To find out more about twists in the case after the sentencing and where Durst is today, watch “Blood & Money,” premiering Saturday, March 11 at 9/8c on Oxygen.