The Rant (March 26, 2015) 

On Robert Durst and other criminals.

click to enlarge Robert Durst - REUTERS | LEE CELANO
  • Reuters | Lee Celano
  • Robert Durst

HBO struck gold with the six-part documentary, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. Especially during the jaw-dropping finale, when the alleged triple-murderer was heard off-camera, muttering to himself into a hot microphone what sounded like a confession. Durst's arrest the day after the show's finale created such white-hot news coverage that I don't think I'd be revealing any secrets to offer a short synopsis. Durst is the estranged heir to one of the richest real-estate firms in New York, which manages 1 World Trade Center, among other high-rent properties. His personal wealth is estimated at $100 million. In 1982, Durst's first wife disappeared and her body was never found. Though suspected of murder, Durst remained free until the investigation was reopened in 2000.

The day before Durst's closest confidant was to be interviewed about the case by prosecutors in Los Angeles, she was found murdered execution-style in her home. Fleeing to Galveston, Texas, Durst rented a $300-a-month room and disguised himself as a mute woman.

In 2001, Durst was arrested for killing his 71-year-old neighbor and dismembering the corpse, which he placed in several garbage bags and scattered in Galveston Bay. Celebrity attorney Dick DeGuerin, who not-so-successfully represented David Koresh during the Waco standoff, admitted that Durst cut up the body, but said that it was postmortem, after a struggle over a gun. The jury decided that Durst acted in self-defense when the gun went off, so the slicing and dicing was moot, and he got off. They never found the head.

Durst agreed to take part in hours of interviews with filmmaker Andrew Jarecki, ostensibly to deflect blame and set the record straight. In the series' final episode, after being confronted with damning evidence, Durst retired to the men's room, forgetting he was still wearing a live microphone and said, "There it is. I'm caught. What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course." The day after the final episode aired, Durst was arrested in a New Orleans hotel with $40,000 in cash, a loaded revolver, his passport and original birth certificate, an over-the-head latex mask, and five ounces of pot.

He will most assuredly be arraigned in Los Angeles for murder, so if you enjoyed the documentary, just wait until the trial. Some of the greatest entertainment L.A. produces comes from their live broadcasts of criminal trials. Look at what they've given us over the years: O.J. Simpson, the Menendez brothers, the cops who beat Rodney King, Phil Spector, and Dr. Conrad Murray. But the Robert Durst show will be the trial of this early century. This will be too salacious not to televise.

HBO's ratings were far too good not to continue this series. We know that we live in a violent country and that there are killers who walk among us — some of them mass murderers. The Durst case took over three decades to unravel, which proves that justice is sometimes late in arriving, but you never know when it will come knocking at your door.

The authorities already know the identities of some others who have committed terrible atrocities, and yet they walk free. Their names are Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Rice, and Tenet. They met in secrecy, concocting a story to sell to the American people about why the Iraq War was absolutely necessary on the pretense of weapons of mass destruction, a term of their own invention.

They invaded and occupied a nation that had not harmed us, then sent over the U.S. Viceroy, "Jerry" Bremer, who disbanded the Iraqi army and barred former members of Saddam's political party from government, thus throwing hundreds of thousands of men out of work. These two dumbass decisions led directly to insurgency, chaos, sectarian civil war, and the birth of ISIS. The cost of the Iraq War is immeasurable in both dollars and human lives. So where are all the warmongers now? They're all wealthy and serve on corporate boards and think tanks. Some are professors at prestigious universities. Bremer lives in Vermont, painting rural landscapes while dabbling in French cuisine. Cheney made a fortune in "blind trust" stocks from no-bid contracts to Halliburton and its subsidiaries. The rest advise the current Republican Party. No one but Cheney's flunky, Scooter Libby, ever faced criminal charges concerning the war, but rumblings about legal recourse have been growing louder across the globe.

In 2012, the Malaysian War Crimes Tribunal convicted Bush, Cheney, and six others in absentia for war crimes. Torture victims told of mistreatment by U.S. soldiers and contractors who used some of the same practices that Japanese were executed for after WWII. Transcripts of the trial were sent to the International Criminal Court, which may never act, but the Durst case proved there's no statute of limitations on atrocities.

Then, when justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream, I know of a cozy, tropical prison down in Cuba that's just perfect for detaining war criminals. Imagine the ratings if they televised that trial.

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