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Tycoon Robert Durst, accused of murdering his friend and wife, dies

The real estate heir dies at 78, while serving a life sentence

Veronica Morao
8 min read
Tycoon Robert Durst, accused of murdering his friend and wife, dies
Robert Durst at trial

Robert Durst's death occurred in a prison hospital in Stockton, due to natural causes, as he suffered from various health problems, according to statements by Chip Lewis, his lawyer.

In September of last year, Durst was convicted of shooting his friend Susan Berman at her Los Angeles home. For this reason, on October 14 he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Dick DeGuerin, his preliminary attorney, said that two days later, he was hospitalized with COVID-19.

Durst family

Tycoon Robert Durst, accused of murdering his friend and wife, dies
Robert Durst

Robert Durst, was the son of real estate mogul Seymour Durst. Born April 12, 1943. His childhood was spent in Scarsdale, New York. His childhood was very tragic, since at the age of 7 he saw his mother die in a fall at home.

In 1965, he graduated from Lehigh University with a BA in Economics. He was a lacrosse fan at this stage in his life.

With a four-year college education in financial matters, he entered a doctoral program at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he met Berman, but left him and decided to return to New York in 1969.

From that moment on, the family business was taken over. However, his father ignored him to make his rival brother Douglas the head of the Durst Organization in 1992.

Douglas Durst, claimed in the preliminary stage that he feared his brother would want to kill him.

In a press conference, Douglas assured that Bob lived a painful, sad and tragic life. He wished that his death had brought peace and tranquility to all the people he hurt.

Love life

Tycoon Robert Durst, accused of murdering his friend and wife, dies

In 1971, Kathie McCormack and Robert Durst met. They were married in celebration of his 30th birthday in 1973.

Kathie, a senior medical student, disappeared. He suddenly appeared at a nightly gathering of partners in Newtown, Connecticut, and then at that moment, he left after a call from his partner to return to his home in South Salem, New York.

Durst assured the police that he could see her when he put her on a train to stay at his Manhattan apartment, because the next day he had to show up at the faculty.

Investigators said Berman, the daughter of a Las Vegas mobster, acted as Kathie Durst to call Albert Einstein School of Medicine the next morning to say she was weakened and would not come to the emergency room.

The call gave Robert Durst a justification, as it created the impression that his partner seemed safe in Manhattan after seeing her.

Eight years after the fact, Durst would divorce her guaranteeing marital abandonment. In 2017, in keeping with his family, his legitimate death was announced.

Lawyer Robert Abrams reported that Kathie McCormack's family intends to make a report on January 31, commemorating 40 years of her disappearance. In this report they will show other people who helped cover up his murder.

Robert Durst remarried in 2000 to Debrah Charatan, who would be his second wife. They had no children.


Tycoon Robert Durst, accused of murdering his friend and wife, dies

Durst had long been associated with the murder of his wife, Kathie, who disappeared in 1982, and her death was subsequently declared legally.

In November, he was charged with second degree murder for that death.

A New York jury charged Durst with his wife's second-degree death. This, after the Los Angeles examiners showed that, he "silenced" Berman so that she would not testify to the police that she had helped him hide the murder of Kathie.

Westchester County investigators, who wanted to transfer Durst, to face the prosecution, insisted on discovering new data about the case.

District Attorney Miriam Rocah said that after 40 years of seeking fairness in her death, she knows how difficult the news is for Kathleen Durst's family.

He insisted that he would have preferred they had been able to see Durst, to argue against the indictment for Kathleen's murder. He assured that, after all this, the relatives seek accountability, closure and justice.

In addition, jurors also received information from Los Angeles investigators that Durst was responsible for a murder in Texas by shooting a man who was found. This happened while hanging out in Galveston after Berman was murdered.


After claiming that he had shot the man in an argument over a firearm, Durst was finally found guilty of murder in 2003.

John Lewin, the Los Angeles deputy prosecutor, said that the jurors informed him after the decision made that Durst had ultimately murdered his wife and also Morris Black, in Texas.

For this reason, Durst made different statements of conviction. One of them is included in the HBO series of the narrative series "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst". The defendant's words were carelessly recorded.

This program managed to spread the name of the tycoon for a long time which prompted a more complete investigation.

One night before the series' last episode, Durst was kept in hiding at a New Orleans inn, under a pseudonym.

At that time he was caught on the Berman murder charge, with possession of a firearm, approximately $40,000 in cash, and a latex mask that covered him from head to shoulders.

The high point of the ending was when while muttering to himself in a bathroom he was recorded by a hot microphone and said, "You're trapped! What the hell did I do?"

Evidence of incrimination

Tycoon Robert Durst, accused of murdering his friend and wife, dies

The statements were later found to have been manipulated to have a sensational impact. However, the creation made with Durst's collaboration against the advice of his friends and lawyers, exposed new evidence.

Included in this evidence was an envelope linking Durst to the scene of Berman's murder, as well as various incriminating statements. A note with the word "Corpse" written in capital letters was received by the police. This role led them to Berman's house.

In an interview between 2010 and 2015, Durst addressed the filmmakers of "The Jinx" that he did not compose the note, but that whoever did it was the one who killed her. Durst remarked, "You are writing a note to the police that only the killer could have written," Durst said.

The lawyers in charge of his defense, assured before the trial that Durst was the one who made the note. Prosecutors took it as a confession.

His legal advisers once again risked putting him on the stand, which ended up being three weeks of testimony. It didn't work out like it did in Texas.

During Prosecutor Lewin's overwhelming questioning, Durst accepted that he had lied after swearing to tell the truth previously, and that he would do so again to avoid trouble.

While on the stand he said that he did not kill Susan Berman, but that, if he did, he would lie in the statement. The jury automatically passed the guilty verdict.

In late 2000, New York authorities reopened an investigation into his wife's disappearance. Durst eloped and rented an apartment in Galveston and also remained disguised as a mute woman.

Durst Traces

Tycoon Robert Durst, accused of murdering his friend and wife, dies

In 2001, Black's body parts appeared in Galveston Bay. Black was Durst's neighbor, who murdered him and left after posting his bail.

Six weeks later, he was arrested in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he had gone to college. This time for stealing a sandwich. At his arrest, police obtained two guns in his car and $37,000 in cash.

He served three years in prison, after testifying that Black pointed a gun at him and was killed when it was activated during the fight.

He told the jury all the details of the purchase and how he disposed of Black's body. Although he was found guilty of murder, he confessed to ignoring his bail and tampering with the evidence.

Durst suffered from a bladder disease and his well-being was weakened during the Berman trial.

He was escorted to court in a wheelchair in jail clothes, as his lawyers said he was unable to wear a suit. At the time designated authorities denied further postponements, following a 14-month hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

His attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said Durst was incredibly weakened at his sentencing hearing. His worst moment in the 20 years he had representing him.

Durst entered the court with wide eyes and a blank stare.

Near the conclusion of the hearing, after Berman's friends and family made it known to the designated authority that his passing changed their lives, Durst coughed loudly and appeared to experience trouble breathing.

His chest heaved, and he lowered his mask, so he could swallow air.

Two days later, he was hospitalized for testing positive for COVID-19. DeGuerin claimed the mogul was hooked up to a fan.

Within days, Durst recovered, and was immediately transferred to a state jail, where police photographs did not indicate the existence of a respirator.

The law professor at Loyola Law School indicated that California law indicates that a conviction becomes void when the defendant dies during the appeal of the case.