Robert Durst dies aged 78 four months after being sentenced to life in prison

Robert Durst, convicted killer, real estate heir and subject of HBO’s actual crime documentary ‘The Jinx’ – died at 78 of complications from COVID-19 while serving life sentence for murder in a correctional facility from Los Angeles.

He died just four months after being sentenced to life in prison for the execution-style murder of his longtime friend Susan Berman in 2000.

His attorney Chip Lewis confirmed to the New York Times that he died at San Joaquin General Hospital after cardiac arrest.

In December, he was seen frail and with a breathing tube in a photo ID released by the California Department of Corrections.

A few months earlier, Durst – who has numerous medical conditions, including contracting COVID-19 – was seen in a wheelchair during most of his trial in California.

At the time of his death, he had been acquitted of the massacre of his neighbor in 2003 and indicted by a grand jury for the mysterious disappearance of his first wife in 1982.

Durst’s attorneys said he was suffering from a “myriad of life-threatening problems” including bladder cancer last September. “His state of health deteriorated over the weeks of the trial,” said his lawyer Dick DeGuerin. “He looked like he had death warmed up.”

In December, he was seen frail and with a breathing tube in a passport photo released by the California Department of Corrections

Last October, Durst was sentenced to life in the execution style murder of his longtime friend and confidante, Susan Berman. Prosecutors alleged his motive was to prevent her from revealing what she knew about the disappearance of his wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst in 1982.

Throughout his trial, his defense attempted to postpone his case due to persistent health issues, including chest pain, breathing problems, pain while dressing and wearing a catheter, and infections. urinary tract due to her bladder cancer.

Despite his fragile health, he was sentenced to life without parole for the December 2000 murder of his best friend Susan Berman and was subsequently charged with the murder of his first wife Kathie Durst in 1982.

Her death leaves behind many unanswered questions regarding Kathie’s unresolved case; and renewed public interest in the illusory misdeeds of one of America’s most bizarre killers.

Robert Durst, convicted murderer and subject of HBO's true crime documentary,

Robert Durst, convicted murderer and subject of HBO’s true crime documentary “The Jinx,” has died while serving a life sentence. He was 78 years old

Durst, born April 12, 1943, was the eldest son of a major New York real estate dynasty. His grandfather, the patriarch of the family, Joseph Durst, was a Polish tailor who immigrated to New Yok in 1902 with $ 3 sewn into his lapel.

In just a few short years, Joseph went from selling children’s clothing on stroller carts to being a partner in a garment factory.

Soon after, he expanded into real estate in 1915 with the purchase of his first apartment building on 34th Street. He also founded the Capital National Bank, which made loans to the garment district and was eventually sold, giving him seed money for his burgeoning real estate empire.

Today, the Durst Organization is worth $ 8 billion with towering skyscrapers towering over Manhattan’s iconic skyline. The family-owned business owns more than 16 million square feet of real estate in New York City, including a 10% stake in One World Trade Center.

Robert Durst’s childhood was marked by tragedy when he saw his mother, Bernice, commit suicide by jumping from the roof of the family home. (Family members would later claim it was an accident and dispute that Robert was present anywhere at the time).

Robert Durst was the eldest son of a prominent New York real estate family.  He had a very troubled childhood.  From the start he was subject to violent explosions and pathological lies

Robert Durst was the eldest son of a prominent New York real estate family. He had a very troubled childhood. From the start he was subject to violent explosions and pathological lies

Robert's relationship with his brother Douglas, just 18 months apart, was perpetually strained.  As children, they took advice from an abusive sibling, which often ended in physical fights.

Robert had a difficult upbringing following the death of his mother, Beatrice, in 1950. His 32-year-old mother died after falling from the roof of their Scarsdale residence in New York City.  However, Robert, only seven at the time, claimed to have seen her jump off the roof.

Robert’s childhood was marked by the death of his mother, Beatrice (right) in 1950. His 32-year-old mother died after falling from the roof of their Scarsdale residence in New York City. Her relationship with her younger brother, Douglas (left) was perpetually strained

Robert’s relationship with his brother Douglas, just 18 months apart, was perpetually strained.

As children, they took advice from an abusive sibling, which often ended in fights.

A psychiatrist’s report in 1953 diagnosed 10-year-old Robert with “personality breakdown and possibly even schizophrenia.”

His classmates described Durst as a “loner” in high school. He then attended Lehigh University in Pennsylvania with a degree in economics before enrolling at UCLA to enroll in a doctoral program. It was there that he met Susan Berman, an aspiring writer who was the daughter of a Las Vegas gangster.

In 1969, Durst left UCLA to open a health food store in Vermont that closed after just two years.

He returned to New York and started dating Kathleen McCormack, a young dental hygienist who rented an apartment owned by the Durst Organization.

After two dates, he asked Kathie to move in with him and they were married on Robert’s thirtieth birthday in 1973.

Robert joined his father Seymour and brother Douglas in the family business, developing a series of successful skyscrapers in midtown Manhattan. Meanwhile, Kathie enrolled in medical school to become a doctor.

The couple partied at Studio 54, sailed the Mediterranean and visited Thailand while dividing their time between their penthouse on Riverside Drive and a lakeside cabin in the upstate.

But their relationship deteriorated, friends would later say, when Durst became in control and urged his wife to have an abortion.

“I always, always, always very controlled,” he said, neutral in the 2015 HBO docuseries, The Jinx.

Three weeks before her disappearance in 1982, Kathleen, 29, was treated in a hospital for bruising on her face during a physical fight with Durst.

She had discovered that Durst had an affair with Prudence Farrow (Mia Farrow’s younger sister and the subject of the Beatles song “Dear Prudence.”)

Despite his immense wealth, Durst was notoriously inexpensive. When Kathie filed for a $ 250,000 divorce settlement (a paltry sum for the billionaire), he refused, removed her name from their bank accounts, and canceled all of her credit cards.

The last time Kathie McCormack was seen alive was on January 31, 1982, when she showed up unexpectedly to a dinner party hosted by a friend.

Durst claimed he drove his wife to catch a 9:15 p.m. train to Manhattan after arguing at their upstate cottage. He claimed he returned for drinks with a neighbor and spoke to McCormack later that evening when she called from their Riverside Drive apartment.

Durst later admitted that he lied and simply went to bed. “That’s what I told the police,” he said in The Jinx. “I hoped that would make it all go away.” McCormack has never been seen again and his body has never been found.

It took Durst five days to report his disappearance to the police. By this time he had already aroused the suspicion of his family and friends and was considered the prime suspect by the police.

.

Leave a Comment