Robert Durst—Real Estate Heir, Failed Fugitive and Murderer—Dies at 78
(LOS ANGELES) — Robert Durst, the rich New York actual property inheritor and failed fugitive dogged for many years with suspicion within the disappearance and deaths of these round him earlier than he was convicted final 12 months of killing his finest pal, has died. He was 78.
Durst died of pure causes Monday in a hospital outdoors the California jail the place he was serving a life sentence, based on the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Durst had been held in a hospital lockup in Stockton on account of a litany of illnesses.
Durst was convicted in September of capturing Susan Berman at point-blank vary at her Los Angeles residence in 2000. He was sentenced Oct. 14 to life in jail with out parole.
Durst had lengthy been suspected of killing his spouse, Kathie, who went lacking in New York 1982 and was declared legally useless a long time later.
However solely after Los Angeles prosecutors proved he silenced Berman to forestall her from telling police she helped cowl up Kathie’s killing was Durst indicted by a New York grand jury in November for second-degree homicide in his spouse’s dying.
Westchester County prosecutors, who had been making an attempt to get Durst transferred there to face the cost, stated they deliberate to disclose new particulars in regards to the case in coming days.
“After 40 years spent in search of justice for her dying, I understand how upsetting this information should be for Kathleen Durst’s household,” District Legal professional Miriam Rocah stated in an announcement. “We had hoped to permit them the chance to see Mr. Durst lastly face prices for Kathleen’s homicide as a result of we all know that each one households by no means cease wanting closure, justice and accountability.”
Los Angeles prosecutors advised jurors Durst additionally obtained away with homicide in Texas after capturing a person who found his identification when he was hiding out in Galveston in 2001. Durst was acquitted of homicide in that case in 2003, after testifying he shot the person as they struggled for a gun.
Deputy District Legal professional John Lewin stated Los Angeles jurors advised him after the decision that they believed Durst had killed his spouse and murdered Morris Black in Texas.
Durst’s undoing was largely on account of his hubris.
After beating the cost in Texas, in a bid to rehabilitate his picture, he reached out to filmmakers who had portrayed his life — not favorably — within the 2010 huge display characteristic, “All Good Issues,” starring Ryan Gosling as Durst. He provided to sit down down for a collection of prolonged interviews about his life.
It was a choice he advised jurors he deeply regretted.
Durst, who later stated he was utilizing methamphetamine in the course of the interviews, made a number of damning statements together with a shocking confession throughout an unguarded second within the six-part HBO documentary collection “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.”
The present made his title recognized to a brand new technology and introduced renewed scrutiny and suspicion from authorities.
The night time earlier than the ultimate episode aired, Durst was arrested in Berman’s killing whereas hiding out beneath an alias in a New Orleans resort, the place he was caught with a gun, greater than $40,000 money and a head-to-shoulders latex masks for a presumed getaway.
The finale’s climax got here with him mumbling to himself in a rest room whereas nonetheless sporting sizzling mic saying: “You’re caught! What the hell did I do? Killed all of them, in fact.”
The quotes have been later revealed to have been manipulated for dramatic impact however the manufacturing — executed towards the recommendation of Durst’s attorneys and pals — dredged up new proof together with an envelope that related him to the scene of Berman’s killing in addition to incriminating statements he made.
Police had acquired a observe directing them to Berman’s residence with solely the phrase “CADAVER” written in block letters.
In interviews given between 2010 and 2015, Durst advised the makers of the “The Jinx” that he didn’t write the observe, however whoever did had killed her.
“You’re writing a observe to the police that solely the killer may have written,” Durst stated.
His protection attorneys conceded within the run-up to trial that Durst had written the observe, and prosecutors stated it amounted to a confession.
Clips from “The Jinx,” and “All Good Issues” had starring roles at trial.
As did Durst himself. He took the chance of once more taking the stand for what turned out to be about three weeks of testimony. It didn’t work because it had in Texas.
Beneath devastating cross-examination by prosecutor Lewin, Durst admitted he lied beneath oath prior to now and would do it once more to dodge hassle.
“‘Did you kill Susan Berman?’ is strictly a hypothetical,” Durst stated from the stand. “I didn’t kill Susan Berman. But when I had, I might lie about it.”
The jury promptly returned a responsible verdict.
It lengthy appeared he would keep away from any convictions.
Durst went on the run in late 2000 after New York authorities reopened an investigation into his spouse’s disappearance, renting a modest residence in Galveston and disguising himself as a mute lady.
In 2001, the physique components of a neighbor, Black, started washing up in Galveston Bay.
Arrested within the killing, Durst jumped bail. He was caught shoplifting a sandwich six weeks later in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the place he had gone to varsity. Police discovered $37,000 money and two handguns in his automotive.
He later quipped that he was “the worst fugitive the world has ever met.”
He would testify that Black had pulled a gun on him and died when the weapon went off throughout a wrestle.
He advised jurors intimately how he purchased instruments and downed a bottle of Jack Daniels earlier than dismembering Black’s physique and tossing it out to sea. Whereas he was cleared of homicide, he pleaded responsible to violating his bail, and to proof tampering for the dismemberment. He served three years in jail.
Durst had bladder most cancers and his well being deteriorated in the course of the Berman trial. He was escorted into court docket in a wheelchair sporting jail apparel every day as a result of his attorneys stated he was unable to alter right into a go well with. However the choose declined additional delays after a 14-month pause in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
At his sentencing, Durst entered the courtroom with a wide-eyed vacant stare. Legal professional Dick DeGuerin stated he was “very, very sick” — the worst he regarded within the 20 years he spent representing him.
Close to the top of the listening to after Berman’s family members advised the choose that her dying upended their lives, Durst coughed onerous and appeared to wrestle to breathe. His chest heaved and he pulled his masks down under his mouth to gulp for air.
He was hospitalized two days later with COVID-19 and DeGuerin stated he was on a ventilator. However Durst apparently recovered and was transferred to state jail the place mug pictures confirmed no signal of a ventilator.
The son of actual property magnate Seymour Durst, Robert Durst was born April 12, 1943, and grew up in Scarsdale, New York. He would later say that at age 7, he witnessed his mom’s dying in a fall from their residence.
He graduated with an economics diploma in 1965 from Lehigh College, the place he performed lacrosse. He entered a doctoral program on the College of California, Los Angeles, the place he met Berman, however dropped out and returned to New York in 1969.
He grew to become a developer within the household enterprise, however his father handed him over to make his youthful brother, and rival, Douglas the pinnacle of the Durst Group in 1992.
Durst broke ties together with his household, reaching a settlement with a household belief. He was estimated to have a fortune of about $100 million.
Douglas Durst testified at trial that he feared his brother needed to kill him.
“Bob lived a tragic, painful and tragic life,” he stated in an announcement Monday. “We hope his dying brings some closure to these he damage.”
In 1971, Robert Durst met Kathie McCormack, and the 2 married on his thirtieth birthday in 1973.
In January 1982, his spouse was a pupil in her closing 12 months at medical college when she disappeared. She had proven up unexpectedly at a pal’s ceremonial dinner in Newtown, Connecticut, then left after a name from her husband to return to their residence in South Salem, New York.
Robert Durst advised police he final noticed her when he put her on a practice to remain at their residence in Manhattan as a result of she had courses the following day.
Prosecutors stated Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster, posed as Kathie Durst to name Albert Einstein School of Medication the following morning to say she was sick and wouldn’t be at her hospital rotation. The decision supplied an alibi for Robert Durst as a result of it made it seem his spouse made it safely to Manhattan after he noticed her.
He would divorce her eight years later, claiming spousal abandonment, and in 2017, at her household’s request, she was declared legally useless.
Kathie McCormack Durst’s household stated they plan to supply an replace on Jan. 31 — the fortieth anniversary of her disappearance — into an investigation of others who helped cowl up her killing, legal professional Robert Abrams stated.
Robert Durst is survived by his second spouse Debrah Charatan, whom he married in 2000. He had no youngsters.
Beneath California legislation, a conviction is vacated if a defendant dies whereas the case is beneath attraction, stated Laurie Levenson, a legislation professor at Loyola Legislation Faculty.
Legal professional Chip Lewis stated Durst had appealed.
Related Press author Michelle A. Monroe in Phoenix contributed.