Robert Durst, the heir to a New York real estate fortune whose life read like twisted plots of true-crime stories and was convicted of murder, has died. He was 78 years old.
The New York Times quoted his lawyer as saying that he died of cardiac arrest on Monday at a hospital in Stockton, California. Durst was serving a life sentence in a California health care facility.
Sick with Covid-19, he was put on a ventilator in October, days after his sentencing, his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, said at the time.
Durst, whose family manages nearly 15 million square feet of prime office and retail space in New York City and co-developed One World Trade Center, was found guilty in September of killing his longtime confidant Susan Berman two decades ago in California went.
Prosecutors said Durst shot and killed Berman at his Beverly Hills home just before Christmas in 2000, as he helped cover up the murder of his first wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst, nearly four decades earlier. And he feared that Burman might expose him to the authorities. The murder occurred on the day New York investigators were talking to Berman about the disappearance of Cathy Durst.
Cathy Durst, a medical student, disappeared on a January night in 1982 after leaving the couple’s mansion in Westchester County, north of New York. He was later pronounced dead, though his body was never found. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2015 following the release of a documentary film that presented evidence linking Durst to Berman’s death and included her candid confession.
Prosecutors reopened the cold case, and in November Robert Durst was convicted of murdering Cathy.
Durst became the subject of a Hollywood film and the widely watched HBO documentary series, “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst”. He was arrested in 2015 for murdering Burman on the eve of the film’s final episode, which ended with him admitting off-camera that he “killed them all.”
This was not the first time Durst had faced murder charges. He was acquitted in 2003 before murdering neighbor Morris Black in Texas and dumping his remains in Galveston Bay.
The two pieces of evidence in the jinx were particularly damaging to Durst’s persistent claim that he had no involvement in the deaths of his wife or Berman.
Documentary director Andrew Jarecki showed Durst an unsigned letter sent to local police, alerting them the day before Berman’s body was discovered, that there was a “corpse” at his address. Jarecki then showed him a letter Durst had written to Berman. A handwriting expert told Jarecki that the letters were written by the same person who misspelled “Beverly Hills” in both instances. Durst tells Jarecki that the letter to the police could only have been written by Berman’s killer, but he refuses to send it.
After Jarecki finished the interview, but still wearing the body microphone used to record the session, Durst went to the bathroom and was heard saying to himself: “There it is. You got caught…..what did I do? Did? Of course, kill them all.” (At the 2018 hearing, it was noted that those statements in the raw audio were in a different order than they were heard in the documentary, though it was unclear whether this would have helped them. Less damage done.)
Using Daguerin, the same attorney whose team had achieved a non-guilty verdict in the Black case for Durst, Durst pleaded not guilty to Berman’s murder and again denied that he had married his first wife. had killed.
DeGuerin’s team stunned prosecutors in the Texas trial by convincing a Galveston jury that Durst had struggled with Black to get possession of the pistol Black had pointed at him. Durst testified that the gun was accidentally fired, killing Black. Durst said he would not believe the murder was unintentional, with Durst saying he cut his neighbor’s body with a bow saw and dumped the parts into a nearby creek.
Durst testified that he had gone to Galveston, Texas, to escape the constant attention of the New York media about his missing wife. To avoid identification, she dressed as a woman and pretended to be mute while renting an apartment next to Black.
Separated from his family in the mid-1990s, Durst broke up with his relatives in 2004, and received $60 million to settle a lawsuit filed against the family’s trustees. Given his resources, he had no trouble getting bail or hiring top legal talent to defend himself against various charges, which included illegal arms possession.
Robert Durst was born on April 12, 1943, in Scarsdale, New York, to Seymour and Bernice Durst. He attended Scarsdale High School and received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Lehigh University. He met Kathleen McCormack in 1971 and married her two years later.
He worked for the family’s New York-based business, the Durst Organization, which began acquiring and developing real estate in the early 1900s and was run by his father, Seymour Durst, who died in 1995. Durst’s younger brother Douglas Durst was chosen to run. strong.
In 1990, Robert Durst formally divorced his first wife and married Debra Lee Chartan in 2000.