Real estate heir Robert Durst accused of murdering his wife Kathie Durst in 1982
NEW YORK (AP) – Millionaire real estate scion Robert Durst has been charged with murder in the death of his first wife, Kathie Durst, nearly four decades after her disappearance and just days after being sentenced to prison in life in California for killing a confidante who helped cover up the murder.
Authorities in the New York City suburbs confirmed on Friday they have charged Durst, 78, who lawyers say was hospitalized on a ventilator in Los Angeles after testing positive for COVID-19.
A State Police investigator on Tuesday filed a criminal complaint in a city court in Lewisboro, New York, charging Durst with second degree murder in the death of Kathie Durst, who went missing in 1982. He had not previously been charged in the disappearance of Kathie Durst.
The case sparked renewed public interest after HBO aired a documentary in 2015 in which the eccentric heir appeared to admit to killing people, stepping away from the camera and whispering to himself into a microphone in blunt: “Killed them all, of course.”
The complaint charging Durst was not announced at the time by law enforcement or Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah, who recently called a grand jury as she seeks to indict him for the murder. The grand jury continues to meet and hear witnesses and may eventually deliver an indictment.
“The Westchester County District Attorney’s Office can confirm that a complaint accusing Robert Durst of the murder of Kathleen Durst was filed in Lewisboro City Court on October 19, 2021. We have no further comments at this time.” Rocah’s office said in a statement Friday. .
Robert Abrams, an attorney for Kathie Durst’s family, said in a statement: “Robert Durst has now been formally charged with the murder of Kathleen McCormack Durst. We are very satisfied with this development. At this time, however, we will not be making any further comment until the grand jury process is complete. “
Messages requesting comment have been left with Durst’s attorneys.
The one-page felony complaint filed in Lewisboro cites evidence in the files of the Westchester District Attorney, New York State Police, and Los Angeles District Attorney, as well as “conversations with de numerous witnesses and observations of the accused, recorded interviews and observations of Mr. Durst’s recorded interviews and testimony in court in related proceedings. “
Kathie Durst was 29 and in her final months in medical school when she was last seen. She and Robert Durst, who was 38 at the time, had been married for almost nine years and lived in South Salem, a community in Lewisboro. His body has never been found. At the request of her family, she was declared legally deceased in 2017.
The complaint against Robert Durst is named after State Police investigator Joseph Becerra, who reopened the investigation in 1999 after receiving information about Kathie Durst’s disappearance. Authorities searched a lake and the couple’s home but found little evidence, with Becerra likening the search to a “needle in a haystack”.
Becerra testified in July at Robert Durst’s trial in California that he wanted to interview Robert Durst’s friend Susan Berman, but never got a chance because Durst killed her in 2000. Prosecutors from Los Angeles said Robert Durst killed Berman because she was preparing to confess to police how she helped cover up the death of Kathie Durst.
The criminal complaint filed Tuesday against Robert Durst ran parallel to the grand jury proceedings, which could continue for several more weeks. Such filings are often seen as a first step in the criminal process because in New York City all felony cases require an indictment before a grand jury to proceed to trial, unless a defendant waives this claim. requirement.
After Berman’s death, Durst went into hiding, disguising herself as a mute woman living in a cheap apartment in Galveston, Texas. There he killed a neighbor and cut up his body, but was later acquitted after telling the jury he had done so in self-defense.
Durst was also sentenced in 2016 to more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty to a federal weapons charge resulting from a 2015 arrest in New Orleans.
The Durst family owns more than 16 million square feet of real estate in New York and Philadelphia, including a 10% stake in One World Trade Center, the Manhattan skyscraper formerly known as Freedom Tower. Family members bought Robert Durst’s stake in the company for $ 65 million in 2006.
In the 2015 HBO documentary “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” Durst appeared to admit to killing people and admitted that he made up details about what happened the night she had. disappeared because he “hoped that would make it all go away.”
Durst, who has numerous medical conditions, sat in a wheelchair for much of the California trial and sentencing hearing. He read his lawyer’s questions on a tablet giving live transcripts because he has difficulty hearing.
Durst, testifying at the Los Angeles trial in August, denied killing Kathie Durst. After his medical school called to report that she hadn’t been to class, he said he thought she was “out somewhere having fun” and suggested that drinking drugs were perhaps to blame.
“I hadn’t thought something had happened to him,” Durst said, speaking slowly in a strained, hoarse voice. “It was more like: what had Kathie done to Kathie?” “
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