September 21, 2021 – Famous Big Apple real estate fortune heir and high-society eccentric Robert Durst will die in prison.
If certain people were still alive, he would have almost undoubtedly died a violent death in the streets, made an example out of for all to see.
Last week, Durst, 78, was found guilty in California of killing Susan Berman more than 20 years ago. Berman’s dad, David (Davey the Jew) Berman, helped pioneer the mob’s building of modern-day Las Vegas and ran a Minnesota-based Jewish mafia empire before dying relatively young of a heart attack in 1957 at age 54.
Berman was murdered in Los Angeles in December 2000 by her best friend, Durst, who feared she was on the verge of cooperating with authorities in the investigation into the disappearance of his wife, Kathleen. The 55-year old Berman was found shot in the back of the head on December 24, 2000, inside her home in Benedict Canyon.
Kathleen McCormack Durst went missing in 1982 and was never seen again. Authorities believed Berman aided Robert Durst is disposing of his wife’s body.
The heavily-covered trial charging Durst with the Berman homicide was originally slated to begin in March 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Proceedings resumed in June.
Durst is also suspected of a slaying in Texas. Morris Black, a neighbor at one of the Durst family properties, has his dismembered corpse, found floating in Galveston Bay in 2001.
The story of Robert Durst inspired the 2010 film All Good Things, starring Oscar-nominee Ryan Gosling. Durst himself participated in the chilling 2015 HBO docuseries The Jinx, which chronicled his strange connections to all three cases and included an apparent hot-mic confession, where he uttered “I killed them all” after thinking he had completed his interview and was out of hearing distance of the crew.
Many that knew Davey Berman believe if he was alive when his daughter was slain, the killer either would have never dared pull the trigger in the first place or would certainly never live long enough to see a jury.
“This screwball would never even thought of lifting a finger to hurt Susan if her dad and his friends were still alive back then,” said one Vegas old timer who knew Davey Berman when he was in his 20s. “Her dad would have chain sawed this guy to death before the cops got to him believe me. I don’t care how much money he had. He could never have bought his way out of a slow, painful death. But this is a different age. A whole new era. Street justice gives way to court justice. And who am I to judge. But for better or worse, street justice is much swifter. They wouldn’t have hunted him down and made an example out of him.”
Davey Berman was raised in Ashley, North Dakota by Ukrainian immigrants and then moved to Sioux City, Iowa as a teenager. By the 1920s and the height of the gangland Prohibition boom, he was living in Minneapolis and working as second-in-command to the Twin Cities Jewish mob boss, Isadore (Kid Cann) Blumenfeld. New York Jewish mob titan Meyer Lansky put Berman and Kidd Cann together, helping forge bonds that stretched from the farmlands of the heartland to the heart of the Big Apple and what would soon become the Five Families of the American mafia.
At first, Berman and his bodyguard and enforcer Israel (Ice Pick Willie) Alderman ran their own independent rackets separate from the Kid Cann Gang. But at Lansky’s behest, they joined forces, brought in the city’s biggest Irish crime lord in Tommy Banks and became a superpower-rackets combine backed by both the ruling Italian mob factions in Chicago and New York.
Besides building an early adulthood friendship and business relationship with Lansky, Berman and his brother and right-hand man, Charles (Chickie) Berman, cultivated ties to the Chicago “Outfit” during their days in Iowa, too. The press dubbed Kid Cann the “Al Capone” of Minnesota and the heat that reputation generated began bearing down upon the Bermans and their business operations, despite Davey’s close ties to Mayor Marvin Kline.
Following a stint in the Canadian army, where he saw combat in Europe during World War II, Davey Berman headed west to Las Vegas to aid Lansky and Lansky’s partner Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel in implementing their vision of constructing a resort-style gambling and entertainment mecca in the desert. Flanked by his brother and their top muscle, Ice Pick Willie Alderman, he landed in Las Vegas in 1944. One year later, at the conclusion of the war, he moved his wife and daughter, Susan, to Nevada to join him.
Berman headed an ownership group, including Lansky, that had controlling interests in the El Cortez, the El Dorado, and the Las Vegas Club. Upon Bugsy Siegel being murdered in Beverly Hills in 1947 for mismanagement of Flamingo hotel and casino finances, Berman was put in charge of the glitzy establishment, along with Lansky’s “boots on the ground” Moe Sedway from New York and Gus Greenbaum representing the interests of the Chicago mob. Kid Cann, according to FBI records, also received portions of “skim” money from the business arrangement in Vegas.
“Davey Berman was one of the very early major players in Las Vegas, he was essentially one of the founding fathers of The Strip,” said Geoff Schumacher, a Las Vegas mafia historian and executive director of the city’s Mob Museum. “That was a cutthroat world he existed in and found success and respect in. Those guys didn’t play games and didn’t trust just anyone. Everyone in Vegas held Davey Berman in very high esteem.”
In the 1950s, Berman sold his shares in the Flamingo and purchased interest in the Riviera. He died on the operating table during heart surgery. Lansky lasted until 1983, dying peacefully in Miami. Kidd Cann, who passed away in 1980, had moved from Minneapolis to Miami later in life to work for Lansky’s gambling interests in South Florida.