Home New mexico real estate Robert Durst, real estate mogul convicted of murder, dies

Robert Durst, real estate mogul convicted of murder, dies


IN DEVELOPMENT … The story will be updated as new information can be verified. Updated 4 times

LOS ANGELES – Robert Durst, the wealthy New York real estate heir and failed fugitive, suspected for decades of the disappearance and death of those around him before being convicted last year of the murder of his best friend , is dead. He was 78 years old.

Durst died of natural causes in a hospital outside California prison where he was serving a life sentence on Monday, according to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Durst had been held in a hospital in Stockton due to a litany of ailments.

Durst was convicted in September of shooting Susan Berman at point blank range in his Los Angeles home in 2000. He was sentenced on October 14 to life in prison without parole.

Durst had long been suspected of killing his wife, Kathie, who disappeared in New York City in 1982 and was declared legally dead decades later.

But it was only after Los Angeles prosecutors proved he silenced Berman to prevent him from telling police she helped cover up Kathie’s murder that Durst was indicted by a New York grand jury in November for second degree murder in the death of his wife.

Westchester County prosecutors, who had attempted to have Durst transferred there to face the charge, said they plan to reveal new details about the case in the coming days.

“After 40 years of seeking justice for her death, I know how upsetting this must be for the family of Kathleen Durst,” District Attorney Miriam Rocah said in a statement. “We were hoping to allow them to see Mr. Durst finally face charges for the murder of Kathleen, because we know all families keep asking for closure, justice and accountability.”

Los Angeles prosecutors told jurors that Durst also committed a murder in Texas after shooting a man who discovered his identity while in hiding in Galveston in 2001. Durst was acquitted of the murder in that case in 2003, after testifying that he shot the man while they fought for a gun.

Assistant District Attorney John Lewin said Los Angeles jurors told him after the verdict they believed Durst killed his wife and murdered Morris Black in Texas.

Much of Durst’s loss was due to his pride.

After defeating the indictment in Texas, in a bid to rehabilitate his image, he contacted filmmakers who had portrayed his life – not favorably – in the 2010 big-screen feature film, “All Good Things,” with Ryan Gosling as Durst. He offered to sit down for a series of long interviews about his life.

It was a decision he told jurors he deeply regretted.

Durst, who later said he used methamphetamine during interviews, made several damning statements, including a startling confession during an unsupervised moment on HBO’s six-part documentary series “The Jinx: The Life. and Deaths of Robert Durst “.

The show brought its name to a new generation and sparked renewed scrutiny and mistrust from authorities.

The day before the final episode aired, Durst was arrested in the murder of Berman while hiding under a pseudonym in a New Orleans hotel, where he was caught with a gun, over 40 $ 000 in cash and a head-to-shoulder latex mask for an alleged Get Away.

The climax of the finale came with him mumbling in a bathroom while still wearing a hot mic saying, “You’re taken! What did I do? Killed them all, of course.

The quotes were later found to have been manipulated for dramatic effect, but the production – made against the advice of Durst’s lawyers and friends – unearthed new evidence, including an envelope that connected it to the scene of Berman’s murder. as well as the incriminating statements he made.

Police had received a note directing them to Berman’s home with only the word “BODY” written in all capital letters.

In interviews given between 2010 and 2015, Durst told the creators of “The Jinx” that he didn’t write the note, but whoever did killed her.

“You write a note to the police that only the killer could have written,” Durst said.

His defense attorneys admitted as the trial approached that Durst wrote the note, and prosecutors said it amounted to a confession.

Extracts from “The Jinx” and “All Good Things” had lead roles at the trial.

Just like Durst himself. He took the risk of testifying again for what turned out to be about three weeks of testimony. It didn’t work like it did in Texas.

During a devastating cross-examination by Prosecutor Lewin, Durst admitted that he had lied under oath in the past and that he would do it again to avoid trouble.

“‘Did you kill Susan Berman? “Is strictly speculative,” Durst said from the stand. “I didn’t kill Susan Berman. But if I had, I would be lying about it.

The jury quickly returned a guilty verdict.

It seemed for a long time that he would avoid all condemnation.

Durst fled in late 2000 after New York authorities reopened an investigation into his wife’s disappearance, renting a modest apartment in Galveston and disguising herself as a silent woman.

In 2001, body parts of a neighbor, Black, began washing in Galveston Bay.

Arrested in the murder, Durst skipped bail. He was caught stealing a sandwich six weeks later in Bethlehem, Pa., Where he had attended college. Police found $ 37,000 in cash and two handguns in his car.

He later joked that he was “the worst fugitive the world has ever encountered”.

He would testify that Black had pointed a gun at him and that he died when the gun exploded during a fight.

He explained in detail to jurors how he bought tools and swallowed a bottle of Jack Daniels before dismembering Black’s body and throwing it into the sea. While he was cleared of the murder, he pleaded guilty to ” violating his bond and falsifying evidence for the dismemberment. He served three years in prison.

Durst had bladder cancer and his health deteriorated during the Berman trial. He was escorted to court in a wheelchair in prison gear every day because his lawyers said he was unable to change into a suit. But the judge refused further delays after a 14-month hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic.

Upon his conviction, Durst entered the courtroom with a wide-eyed blank stare. Lawyer Dick DeGuerin said he was “very, very sick” – the worst he has watched in the 20 years he has spent representing him.

Towards the end of the hearing, after those close to Berman told the judge that his death had turned their lives upside down, Durst coughed loudly and seemed to have difficulty breathing. His chest heaved and he lowered his mask under his mouth to suck in air.

He was hospitalized two days later with COVID-19 and DeGuerin said he was on a ventilator. But Durst apparently recovered and was transferred to a state prison where ID photos showed no sign of a fan.

Son of real estate mogul Seymour Durst, Robert Durst was born April 12, 1943 and raised in Scarsdale, New York. He would later say that at 7 years old, he witnessed the death of his mother in a fall in their house.

He received a degree in economics in 1965 from Lehigh University, where he played lacrosse. He entered a doctoral program at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he met Berman, but dropped out and returned to New York in 1969.

He became a developer in the family business, but his father abandoned him to make his younger brother and rival, Douglas, the head of the Durst Organization in 1992.

Durst severed ties with his family and made a deal with a family trust. He was estimated to have a fortune of around $ 100 million.

Douglas Durst testified at trial that he feared his brother wanted to kill him.

“Bob has lived a sad, painful and tragic life,” he said in a statement Monday. “We hope his death will end those he has hurt.”

In 1971, Robert Durst met Kathie McCormack and the two tied the knot on his 30th birthday in 1973.

In January 1982, his wife was a final year medical school student when she disappeared. She had shown up unexpectedly at a friends dinner in Newtown, Connecticut, then left after a call from her husband to return to their home in South Salem, New York.

Robert Durst told police he last saw her when he put her on a train to stay at their Manhattan apartment because she was having classes the next day.

Prosecutors said Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas gangster, pretended to be Kathie Durst to call Albert Einstein College of Medicine the next morning to tell her she was ill and did not would not be on his rotation at the hospital. The call provided an alibi for Robert Durst as it gave the impression that his wife had traveled safely to Manhattan after seeing her.

He divorced eight years later, demanding the abandonment of the spouse, and in 2017, at the request of her family, she was declared legally deceased.

Kathie McCormack Durst’s family said they plan to provide an update on January 31 – the 40th anniversary of her disappearance – on an investigation into other people who helped cover up her murder, the lawyer said Robert Abrams.

Robert Durst is survived by his second wife Debrah Charatan, whom he married in 2000. He did not have children.

Under California law, a conviction is overturned if an accused dies while the case is on appeal, said Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School.

Lawyer Chip Lewis said Durst appealed.


Associated Press writer Michelle A. Monroe in Phoenix contributed.