Robert Durst charged with 1982 murder of his wife, Kathie, in New York

November 1, 2021
Kathie Durst
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  • The New York real estate heir is serving a life sentence after his September conviction for the 2000 murder of his best friend, Susan Berman.
  • Kathie Durst disappeared on the night of Jan. 31, 1982, following an argument with her husband. Her body has never been found.

Millionaire real estate heir Robert Durst was indicted Monday by a New York grand jury for the murder of his wife Kathie, who disappeared from their South Salem cottage following an argument nearly four decades ago.

The 78-year-old Scarsdale native is currently in a California state prison hospital facility. He is serving a life sentence following his conviction in September for first-degree murder in the December 2000 fatal shooting of his best friend, Susan Berman, at her Los Angeles home.

Jurors agreed with Los Angeles prosecutors that Berman helped Durst cover up the Jan. 31, 1982, killing of his 29-year-old wife and that he sought to silence her when he learned investigators were taking a fresh look at Kathie’s disappearance.

The grand jury in Westchester County Court heard evidence in the case over two weeks and charged Durst with second-degree murder. The indictment was handed up to state Supreme Court Justice Barry Warhit, who signed an arrest warrant that will be lodged with California prison officials as Durst’s extradition is sought.

Durst suffers from a variety of medical conditions including bladder and esophageal cancer. Whether he would fight extradition was unclear. One of his lawyers in the L.A. case, Dick DeGuerin, said last week that he was not representing Durst in New York and it could not immediately be determined who might be Durst’s lawyer in the Westchester case.

Robert Durst:A timeline of his wife’s disappearance and his criminal cases

Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah said the investigation into Durst’s involvement in his wife’s disappearance was “reinvigorated” 10 months ago when she took office and started the Cold Case Bureau.

“When Kathleen Durst disappeared on January 31, 1982, her family and friends were left with pain, anguish and questions that have contributed to their unfaltering pursuit of justice for the last 39 years,” she said in a statement. “Thanks to the incredible hard work of our Assistant District Attorneys, the District Attorney’s Criminal Investigators and the New York State Police, we have taken a huge step forward in the pursuit of justice for Kathie Durst, her family and victims of domestic violence everywhere.

“For nearly four decades there has been a great deal of speculation about this case, much of it fueled by Robert Durst’s own highly publicized statements,” she added. “An indictment is a crucial step in the process of holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions.”

Kathie Durst’s body has never been found. And, until two weeks ago, there had never been a criminal charge in the case. When Durst was reported to have contracted COVID-19, a criminal complaint charging him with second-degree murder was filed Oct. 19 in Lewisboro Town Court even as the grand jury was hearing the case.

Her disappearance came as she was reportedly pursuing a divorce following what her relatives and friends described as abuse at the hands of her husband. 

Durst was the black sheep of a multi-billion dollar Manhattan real estate empire. Although the eldest child in his family, he was passed over for leadership of the Durst Organization in favor of his brother Douglas, in the 1990s, cementing an estrangement that continues. He eventually received more than $60 million to settle a lawsuit brought against his brother and family trusts.

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His undoing began a decade ago when he agreed to cooperate with the producers of “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst”, a six-part HBO documentary that aired in early 2015. 

Durst was arrested on the L.A. murder charge that March on the eve of the airing of the final episode, which concluded with Durst in a bathroom wearing a hot mic and saying “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

But those two sentences were not said together or even in that order, but had been edited out of a rambling monologue, so it was unclear whether they had been taken by jurors as a confession.

Twitter: @jonbandler





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