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Robert Durst, the multi-millionaire property tycoon, took murderous secrets involving dismembered bodies, dead dogs and a missing wife to his grave.
The real estate heir, who is known to have committed at least one murder and was suspected of at least two others, died of Covid-19 this week.
Durst’s first murder is believed to have been that of his wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst, who disappeared in January 1982.
His brother, Douglas, says that he had owned several Alaskan malamute dogs – all named Igor – that had died in mysterious circumstances.
He told a Los Angeles court that he believed “Bobbie” had killed the dogs and disposed of their bodies as “practice” for killing Kathleen.
Despite evidence that Durst had been violent towards his wife, and the millionaire’s alibi being “full of contradictions” when police questioned him, the inquiry into Kathleen’s disappearance was abandoned.
Eight years after Kathleen was last seen alive, Durst divorced her on grounds of “abandonment”.
After New York prosecutors re-opened the murder investigation in 2000, the tycoon disappeared.
He is known to have stayed at a New Orleans hotel, living under an assumed name, and even bought an elaborate head-and-shoulders latex mask to help him avoid detection. For several months he stayed at a boarding house in Galveston, Texas, bizarrely posing as a mute woman and using the name Dorothy Ciner, where he committed another murder.
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Susan Berman, a journalist who was the daughter of Las Vegas “gentleman mobster” David Berman, provided Durst with an alibi when police investigated him over Kathleen’s death.
On Christmas Eve, 2000, she was found murdered execution-style in her home. Durst was later convicted of the killing.
“She was going to talk to someone about [Kathleen’s disappearance] and blow it wide open,” one of Berman’s friends later testified.
Durst went on the run, first to New Orleans and there to Galveston, where prosecutors say in 2001 he killed his friend Morris Black.
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After being charged with murdering Black, Durst was released on $300,000 bail. Durst again went on the run, eluding police for two months before being arrested for attempting to steal a chicken sandwich, a packet of Band-Aids and a newspaper from a Pennsylvania supermarket, despite having $500 in his pocket at the time.
Durst’s arrest for killing Berman coincided with the broadcast of The Jinx, a true-crime miniseries investigating Kathleen’s disappearance.
In one episode Durst could be heard muttering to himself, unaware that his microphone was still live, saying “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
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In September 2020, Durst was convicted of Berman’s murder. Prosecutors say he shot her in the back of the head at point-blank range to prevent her from telling police what she knew about Kathleen’s death.
One witness told the court Durst had said: ”I had to [kill Berman]. It was her or me. I had no choice."
In 2003 Durst was acquitted of murdering Black despite admitting that he had dismembered Black’s body and thrown it into the Gulf of Mexico.
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A court accepted Durst’s story that he had been scuffling with Black when his gun went off accidentally, and it was only in panic that he sawed his friend’s body into pieces and dumped it into the sea.
In 2017, Kathleen’s family launched a $100,000,000 civil suit against Durst, claiming that he killed the 29-year-old medical student, depriving them of the right to bury her.
Along with another wrongful death lawsuit against Durst filed by Kathleen’s sister, Carol Bamonte in 2019, the case was shrugged off by Durst’s high-powered lawyers.
The murder prosecution was reopened in October 2021 … but halted again on Durst’s death, because under California law a dead man cannot be prosecuted.
“After 40 years spent seeking justice for her death, I know how upsetting this news must be for Kathleen Durst’s family,” Westchester district attorney Mimi Rocah, said in a statement.
“We had hoped to allow them the opportunity to see Mr Durst finally face charges for Kathleen’s murder because we know that all families never stop wanting closure, justice and accountability.”
Durst died of Covid-19 on January 10, 2022, at the age of 78. At the time of his death, was finally awaiting trial, charged with the murder of his wife Kathleen McCormack Durst, 39 years after her disappearance.
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