After "Serial" mania errupted, Adnan Syed won a motion to appeal his conviction in the 1998 murder of his high school classmate and ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. And on the heels of our newest true crime obsession — HBO's "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” — we are seeing once again how true-crime reporting can have real-world reverberations: This time not in establishing innocence, but in moving the needle toward guilt.
"The Jinx" is an HBO docuseries by "Capturing the Friedmans" director Andrew Jarecki, investigating the haunting case of multi-millionaire real estate heir Robert Durst, who has been linked to three unsolved cases over the past 33 years: The disappearence of his wife Kathleen Durst in 1982, the murder of his neighbor Morris Black in Galveston, Texas in 2001, and the murder of his friend, journalist and author Susan Berman, in 2000.
Now the New York Times is reporting that the L.A. district attorney has reopened the investigation into Berman's death, and that the case is reportedly being tied to that of Durst’s missing wife Kathie. The Times suggests that the reopening of the investigation could be based in evidence aired during this Sunday’s fifth episode of "The Jinx," which suggests that Mr. Durst knew about Berman’s death and the location of her body on the day she died, and that he may have tipped police off with an anonymous note. The big reveal came after Berman's stepson found a letter written to Berman by Durst, which matched the handwriting and had the same misspellings as the anonymous letter sent to police.
This isn’t the first time Jarecki’s work has intersected with the law. After his documentary "Capturing the Friedmans" was released in 2003, Jarecki came out as a staunch advocate for subject Jesse Friedman's innocence. Jesse Friedman, along with his father Arnold, was charged with hundreds of counts of child molestation in the late 1980s. In 2013, after a three year investigation, the Nassau County DA found that Jesse Friedman was not wrongfully convicted, and blasted Jarecki and the film for not being "forthcoming with evidence under their control," while labeling the film misleading and accusing Jarecki of interfering with the legal probe. Jarecki has since maintained his support of Friedman, whose appeal is ongoing.