Murder in Beverly Hills: The Mob-Style Execution of Susan Berman, Her Crime Boss Father, and the Deadly Secret She Took to Her Grave -- Cathy Scott tells all!
THIS IS A STORY that begins in old Las Vegas with gangsters and the boys from the Jewish Mob. It moves to San Francisco with the movers and shakers, to New York City with its literati, and ends in Beverly Hills with the glitterati. It is a story about a path to murder.
The slaying of Susan Berman in the winter of 2000 had all the earmarks of a professional hit aimed at a person born into the Mafia. Or was that exactly what the killer had intended everyone to think, to lead investigators to the erroneous assumption that it was a Mob hit? Or was it someone else who wanted her dead? If not a Mafia hit, then, who else could have done it? And why? These are the questions I pursued for the dozen years I have covered Susan Berman's murder, looking for hard evidence, circumstances, clues, and the who, what, and whys of the case.
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Cathy, surviving the attack, said....
In my research, I have gotten to know Susan, doubly so during the rewrite and update for this second edition of the book. I drove the route from her Las Vegas home to her Benedict Canyon house in Beverly Hills. I visited the restaurants she frequented in the town she loved and called home during the final seventeen years of her life. I walked through the Las Vegas house on South Sixth Street where she lived her first twelve years. It was a bright, cheerful house. I imagined her as a child, running down the long hallway into the welcome arms of the father she adored.
I went to the University of California, Berkeley campus where Susan attended journalism school and earned her master's degree and where protests against the war in Vietnam were rampant. Susan made lifelong friends while attending Berkeley - many in the writing world who later tossed work her way. I visited the University of California, Los Angeles campus where she got her bachelor's and sat in the quad where Susan met the man who would become her best friend and trusted confidant.
I visited her home in Benedict Canyon, where she was murdered, and found it gloomy and dark. Someone else lives there now.
And, finally, I visited the Home of Peace cemetery in East Los Angeles where Susan Berman's body is entombed in a marble wall alongside her mother, father, and uncle. A recent visitor left flowers in bud vases for her mother Gladys, father Davie, and uncle Chickie. Susan's vases, one on either side of her shiny-brass headstone, were empty. I stood there looking at her grave, regretting I had not brought her a flower.
I only wish I could have met Susan face to face. She wanted so much to be famous, to be recognized for her work. Today, after her death, her work has become well known and it has left its mark on Las Vegas. Susan's name and books have been the subject of scores of news reports, beginning in the 1970s. There's a long waiting list at public libraries to check out her writings. The books sell for high prices, in the hundred range, on Internet auction sites. Had she lived to see it, Susan would have been pleased. She no doubt would have chuckled at the irony of it all. She also would have pondered the intrigue of her own murder investigation as it unfolded. It was her forte, titillating clues pursued vigorously. All evidence points to Susan being cut down by someone she not only knew, but who was a trusted and beloved friend. That irony, too, however tragic, would have piqued Susan's interest.