Skip to main content

Robert Durst Admits He Was Lying When He Denied Writing ‘Cadaver’ Note. He Once Said Only Susan Berman’s Killer Could Have Written It.



During blockbuster testimony in his ongoing murder trial, accused killer Robert Durst, 78, admitted he lied for two decades about the so-called “cadaver” note that led Beverly Hills police to victim Susan Berman, 55. For years, he insisted it was not him and only the true killer could have penned it. Now, after failing to call a handwriting expert’s analysis into question, Durst told jurors he was actually in Berman’s home that fateful day in Dec. 23, 2000—and mailed the short message.

The note got its name because it only contained the word “cadaver” and the address where authorities found Berman’s remains.

“Did you lie about it for years?” asked his defense attorney Dick DeGuerin.

“Yes,” Durst answered.

“Why?” the lawyer pressed.

“Because it is a difficult thing to believe,” Durst said, referring to his claim that he wrote it but was not the killer. “I mean, I have difficulty believing it myself.”

He did not merely tell a different story for years. He told producers of the HBO documentary The Jinx that only the real killer could have written the note and that this person took a “big risk” by doing so.

“The person who wrote the note killed her,” godson Howard Altman, describing a jailhouse conversation he had with Durst, according to The New York Times.

The case is a decades long saga of bloodshed, marked by his bizarre behavior through the years. Los Angeles County prosecutors assert he killed wife Kathleen McCormack Durst in 1982 and recruited loyal friend Berman to help cover it up, though no charges have been filed in Kathie’s death. But Robert Durst worried in 2000 that Berman might step forward with what he knew, so he shot and killed her execution-style at her Beverly Hills home, authorities said. Durst moved to Galveston, Texas, where he shot and killed neighbor Morris Black. He maintained self-defense and got acquitted for murder in 2003, though he was found guilty of dismembering Black’s body. Investigators never found the head, which is where Durst shot Black.

He visited Berman at her home and found her dead, according to his new version of events. Durst called 911 from a payphone but decided not to give his name. He also noted that he had a very distinctive voice. Instead, he would write the cadaver note, which, as previously reported, included a somewhat idiosyncratic misspelling of the word “Beverley.”

He said he had taken Percocet the day before because of a migraine.

“That tends to make you feel groggy and hung over the next day,” he said, trying to explain why he did not remember certain things about that day.

“So were you groggy and hung over from the Percocet?” said DeGuerin.

“Yes,” said Durst.

He also tried to explain why he lied through the years about writing the cadaver note.

“Because it’s very difficult to believe, to accept, that I wrote the letter and did not kill Susan Berman,” he testified.

Durst actually told a somewhat similar story about dismembering Black. He cut up the man’s body because no one would believe he killed him in self-defense, he testified in 2003, according to the Times.

[Screenshot via Law&Crime Network]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime: