US tycoon Robert Durst arrested over murder after being caught on microphone saying he 'killed them all'

NEW YORK - The scion of a wealthy New York real estate family, who was linked to two killings and his wife's disappearance, was arrested after being caught on microphone admitting he "killed them all."  

Robert Durst, 71, had just finished a final interview for a HBO documentary that linked him to the killings when he asked to use the bathroom. He wore his microphone into the bathroom where he apparently said to himself: "There it is. You're caught", according to media reports.

“What the hell did I do?” the tycoon whispered to himself in an unguarded moment caught on the microphone, according to New York Times (NYT). “Killed them all, of course.”

The final episode of "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst", broadcast on Sunday, revolves around similarities between an envelope from a 1999 letter Durst sent to his friend Susan Berman, a crime writer who was killed in 2000, and an anonymous note sent to Beverly Hills police at the time of the killing, alerting them they would find “a cadaver” in Berman’s house, Los Angeles Times (LAT) reported.

Both were written in distinctive block handwriting and in both, the writer misspelt the word “Beverley”, LAT said. Durst admitted in the final episode that he wrote the envelope with Berman's address but denied writing the note that was sent to police. 

LAT quoted a law enforcement source as saying information uncovered in the program played a role in the investigation. 

Durst was arrested by FBI agents on Saturday at a New Orleans hotel on a warrant from Los Angeles for the murder of Berman. He will plead not guilty, NYT quoted one of his lawyers, Dick DeGuerin, as saying. “The rumours that have been flying for years will now get tested in court,” DeGuerin said.

The tycoon is estranged from his family after his father chose his younger brother Douglas to run the business in 1994.

“We are relieved and also grateful to everyone who assisted in the arrest of Robert Durst,” Douglas Durst said in a statement on Sunday. “We hope he will finally be held accountable for all he has done.”

Since his wife Kathleen vanished in 1982, Durst has lived under the suspicious gaze of law enforcement officials in three states, NYT reported. They have followed his path from New York City to Los Angeles, where Berman, one of Durst's closest friends, was found dead in her home in 2000. The 55-year-old was killed with a bullet to the back of her head as New York investigators prepared to question her on the disappearance of Durst's wife.

Investigators then tracked Durst to Galveston, Texas, where he fled after investigators reopened the case of his wife’s disappearance. In Galveston, he posed as a mute woman and shot and dismembered a neighbour in 2001, according to NYT. But he was acquitted in the killing, and was never arrested in the disappearance of his wife or the death of his friend.

On Saturday, Durst found himself in custody once again, arrested on a charge of murder in Berman's killing.

It is unclear whether the recording of Durst's comments could be used in court, some legal experts said, since they were made in a bathroom when he was alone and had an expectation of privacy.

“That’s pretty damning stuff,” said Daniel J. Castleman, the former chief of investigations in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. “The question is: Is it admissible in court?”