New York City publicist Liz Rosenberg recalled making plans to visit Los Angeles and reaching out to her close friend, writer 55-year-old Susan Berman, about meeting up.
“She actually sounded very good,” says Rosenberg, now semi-retired. “She was great. It was fabulous to hear her voice again and she was lighthearted and did not give any indication of how difficult her life was. [I told her]’ ‘I’ll be out in January and we’ll get together and we’ll catch up.'”
It never happened.
Weeks later, Berman, who wrote a memoir called Easy Street about her father, Las Vegas mob boss David Berman, was found dead a little after 12 p.m. on Dec. 24, 2000, in her Benedict Canyon home, in Beverly Hills.
She had been shot at point blank range in the back of the head. No arrests were made in her case until 2015, when her close friend, NYC millionaire Robert Durst, was arrested in her slaying. Now, almost 20 years later after her death, Durst, now 76, is on trial in a Los Angeles courtroom for her murder. (The trial was recently postponed for three weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak.)
“When I read about Bobby Durst, I think about Susan Berman,” Rosenberg says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE magazine. “I resent she is not portrayed in her full- tilt fabulousness. I hope justice is served, and if Bobby committed the crime, he should certainly pay for it.”
Read more about the murder of Susan Berman in this week’s issue of PEOPLE magazine, on newsstands Friday.
Prosecutors allege that Durst killed Berman because she knew too much about the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen, whose body has never been found. They believe Berman helped him cover it up, giving him a false alibi by impersonating Kathie in a phone call to give police the false impression that Kathie was still alive.
In 2000, when New York authorities re-opened the investigation into Kathie’s disappearance, they planned to interview Berman about what she knew as a friend of the couple’s. “Though [Durst] told her, ‘Go talk to them,’” prosecutor John Lewin said during opening statements, “he also decided to kill her.”
Lewin said Durst gave Berman, who was financially strapped and about to be evicted from her home, $50,000 in the months prior to her death.
“I don’t understand her relationship with Durst,” New York City author Dinitia Smith tells PEOPLE. “I can envision her being involved in a relationship with him that was fraternal and sisterly. She didn’t have what you … would say was a conventional personality.”
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But everyone who knew Berman say she supported her friends fiercely. “She’s not a person whose loyalty I would ever doubt,” says Rosenberg.
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