Robert Durst, a bizarre New York billionaire and suspected multiple killer for many years, died this Monday morning in a California prison hospital, where he was serving a sentence for the 2000 murder of his friend, the writer Susan Berman. Durst was 78 years old. The heir to one of the largest real estate fortunes in New York has died of natural causes, related to various medical problems, including bladder cancer, which were exacerbated by his contagion of covid-19 last fall, according to his lawyer, Dock DeGuerin, has informed the media.
Durst was sentenced to life in prison in October last year for the execution of Berman at his Beverly Hills home by a gunshot to the head. A friend of Durst since college, Berman had witnessed another crime allegedly committed by him and was about to testify in the investigation into the billionaire’s wife, Kathleen McCormack, who in 1982 disappeared without a trace, after expressing her desire to divorce Durst. The body was never found and Kathleen McCormack was declared legally dead in 2017. On November 1, a New York grand jury charged Durst with the death of his wife. You will never be tried on those charges anymore.
After killing Berman, Durst left California and took refuge in a dilapidated apartment in the city of Galveston, Texas, where he posed as a woman and pretended to be mute. There he befriended his ladder neighbor, Morris Black, who he ended up shooting dead, according to him, in self-defense. Black’s body was found dismembered, floating in Galveston Bay. A Texas jury found Durst innocent of Black’s death and he was acquitted. The Prosecutor’s Office tried to prove, without success, that the true intention of the heir in killing his neighbor was to steal his identity and thus be able to escape from Justice.
In 1994, Durst’s father chose his youngest son, Douglas, to take over the family business. The black sheep of one of the biggest fortunes in the Big Apple real estate world, Durst was arrested in New Orleans, Louisiana, in March 2015, on the eve of the broadcast of the latest episode of a biographical documentary titled “The Jinx.” The bloody chapters of his life were portrayed in the HBO docuseries. One of the most memorable moments, and the one that led to the reopening of the case for the disappearance of his wife, is when Durst is heard live, off-camera, muttering this question: “But what the hell did I do?” . Question to which he answers himself: “I killed them all, of course.”
Born in New York to a Jewish family on April 12, 1943, Robert Alan Durst was the eldest of the four children of real estate mogul Seymour Durst and Bernice Herstein. His siblings were Douglas, Tommy, and Wendy Durst. Durst’s paternal grandfather, Joseph Durst, was an Austro-Hungarian tailor who emigrated to the United States in 1902, where he became a successful property manager and developer and founded the Durst Organization in 1927.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.