When it comes to nailing a suspect in a murder case, police officers and federal officials typically turn to the sciences to find their hard proof. DNA remnants, drone helicopters, ballistics, and even surveillance footage can play a large role in getting that guilty verdict versus letting the perp walk free. But in a day and age where you could mimic someone’s DNA with just some plasma, or hack into video surveillance, what is the best method for catching a true killer? Perhaps it’s reality television.
What happens when you put a real-life serial killer on the screen, with millions of “fans” waiting to watch what innuendos may allude to his guilty or innocent nature? It appears that you can apparently get a confession.
Last weekend FBI arrested New York real estate tycoon Robert Durst after more than three decades of evidence has indicated that he is the murderer of at least three people. Since 1982 officers have suspected Durst of being involved in the disappearance and assumed death of his first wife, and since 2000 have been tailing him for the murder of his friend Susan Berman in Los Angeles. Perhaps most disturbing was the 2001 murder of a neighbor in Texas, which Berman shot and dismembered, but was acquitted at the time by claiming that it was self-defense. So what was the straw that broke the camel’s back in the case of this serial killer? An HBO documentary called “The Jinx”.
No, he didn’t admit it to the crowds or the cameras, but in course of filming the six-part miniseries documentary Durst did let the truth slip. Apparently during a break when Durst went to the restroom, not realizing that his microphone was still “hot” (live) he rhetorically asked himself: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.” And with that federal officials were able to arrest Durst, however, it has still yet to be seen whether or not the television footage will be admissible in court.
Though the case is an unusual one, as confessions are rare even amongst the most intense circumstances, federal officials may be able to use the candid piece of footage as juries and judges in recent years have become much more agreeable to the use of technology in cases such as these. Even if DNA evidence cannot be found in the case, perhaps the flub on air may just be enough to land a guilty verdict in this case. And in living on the edge for upwards of thirty years, it appears this adrenaline-filled killer may have finally slipped up—leaving police the footage to finally put him away.
“Bob doesn’t seem to feel totally comfortable unless he’s at risk” documentarians with “The Jinx” say. “He seems to like to put himself at risk. It may make him feel more vital.”
“It may be something he’s just compelled to grasp for. In this case, we felt he had a kind of compulsion to confess.”