“What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
Could this be the most ironclad confession one could ask for? In the stunning finale of HBO’s documentary series The Jinx, millionaire and long-accused murderer Robert Durst appeared to be talking to himself in a bathroom, apparently unaware his microphone was still on:
“There it is. You’re caught. You’re right, of course. But, you can’t imagine. Arrest him. 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. I’m having difficulty with the question. What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
In the previous episode of The Jinx, letters with matching handwriting and identical misspellings, allegedly from Durst, were shown to viewers–one was sent to murder victim Susan Berman (with Durst’s return address on the envelope) and another was sent anonymously to police, signaling them to a cadaver in Berman’s home. However, it was during the finale that the letters were revealed to Durst and his reaction was possibly telling:
Berman, who was Durst’s spokeswoman, was murdered in 2000, right before investigators were preparing to question her in the unsolved disappearance of Durst’s wife Kathleen in 1982. Durst has maintained his innocence, but his apparent confession on The Jinx has shed a perhaps more damning light on the case: Durst was arrested on murder charges hours before the finale aired–and it seems that the HBO series played a part in the latest arrest.
The Jinx joins Serial in a budding branch of media where filmmakers and journalists take on the roles of criminal investigators–and it’s proved to be quite an effective role at that.
Durst’s possible bathroom confession wasn’t discovered by director Andrew Jarecki and his editors until two years after they filmed. In an interview with Good Morning America, Jarecki explains why he didn’t immediately go to the authorities.
“We talked a lot about it with our legal advisories and we said, ‘look, if we go to the authorities now we’re missing the opportunity for us to actually get the real story from him and it may take years for them to do that,” he says. “The truth is, as filmmakers, we have the freedom to do things that maybe the law enforcement authorities wouldn’t have but at the same time we didn’t want to hold it back if it was gonna take forever. And so all we could do was to get him into the chair again, which took a lot of work and then when we had his reaction, that was when we felt the time was right for us to show it to [the authorities] and that was many, many months ago.”
It remains to be seen, as many commenters and experts have already pointed out, if the recordings from The Jinx will be permissible in court and if entrapment will be an issue.