LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) — Susan Berman was raised in the lap of luxury from her birth in 1945 through the death of her Las Vegas casino boss father in 1957.
Then decades later — as shown in Part One of this two-part story — she met her own end gangland-style. But was it a contracted hit?
Part Two begins with a reminder of her father, Flamingo Hotel manager Davie Berman, as outlined in the book "Murder in Beverly Hills" by author Cathy Scott.
"He was a gentleman mobster, is how he was described," says Scott of Davie Berman. "He was very well-respected."
Unlike many organized crime associates in Las Vegas, Davie was never caught up in violence. In fact he went the extra mile — literally — to avoid it.
"Davie, when there was mob unrest, he took his wife and daughter Susie out of town to either New York or Los Angeles,” says Scott. “But Gus Greenbaum worked for Davie ... and he got dead."
The murder of Greenbaum and his wife is one of the stories that Susan learned later as student. She described seeing an article which included some of the violence surrounding Davie to the “Today” Show's Jane Pauley in a 1981 television interview.
"And there was my father, described as an ex-con from Sing-Sing who'd kill a man with one hand behind his back," said Susan.
In fact, that was the image that confronted police investigating Susan's murder two decades later.
"She had a poster, a wanted poster of her father above the fireplace when they came in, above the mantel," says Scott, referring to an artifact from Davie's days before Las Vegas.
The presence of that poster coupled with the mob signature bullet-to-the-back-of-the-head had investigators looking at organized crime.
What they didn't know was that New York police had recently reopened an investigation into the 1981 disappearance of Kathleen Durst, wife of Susan's longtime close friend, Bobby Durst. The cops had been planning to interview Susan when her body was discovered on Christmas Eve 2000.
"Her friends say she knew too much and could have possibly ... “ Scott trails off. “I mean, he is a person of interest in this case."
Despite their long friendship, Durst didn't show up at Susan's funeral. He then disappeared completely until he surfaced in Texas the next year. Suddenly he was a top story in the Lone Star State.
"Durst lived a bizarre life before settling into this Galveston apartment where he posed as a mute woman," reported Robert Arnold for Houston television station KPRC. "Durst was accused of shooting his neighbor Morris Black, cutting up his body and tossing the parts into Galveston Bay."
Powerhouse defense attorney Dick DeGuerin recreated the shooting of Morris Black in court as an accident. And it worked.
"Not guilty," pronounced Galveston District Judge Susan Criss in 2003. Durst slumped in relief as a member of the defense team squeezed his shoulder.
"Clearly the jury understood that the manner in which he disposed of the body didn't change the way the death occurred," DeGuerin told KPRC later.
Acquitted of that death, Bobby Durst has, to date, not been charged with the 1981 disappearance of his wife or the 2000 murder of Susan Berman. And Scott hints there may be more.
"There are a few cases up in San Francisco involving girls that the FBI is looking into," she said.
That's one of the locations where Durst has a residence, along with New York City, where he comes from a wealthy real estate family.
"He was spotted in Las Vegas recently, but basically New York and San Francisco. He's a free man,” Scott said.
The Susan Berman investigation remains open. At least for now.
"The D.A. has opted not to indict or put it before a grand jury," says Scott. "But I think eventually this case is going to be solved.
Wherever he is today, Durst probably has money. In 2006, he received a $65 million one-time payout to sever ties with the Durst Real Estate Group founded by his father. Bobby's most recent arrest was in August 2013 for trespassing at his brother's Manhattan home.
Robert Durst is now a pariah among many to whom he was once closest.