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The Facts Of The Durst Case
Robert Durst was raised in Scarsdale, New York, the eldest son of the late real estate magnate Seymour Durst, who, on a par with the Trumps, Helmsleys, and the Rubins, developed real estate in Midtown Manhattan, with vast holdings ranging from major skyscrapers to places of ill-repute in Times Square.

Robert's mother died suddenly when he was 7 years old, falling off the roof of their home in an apparent suicide. Robert explained in court that he was present when she died. Robert was said by friends to have been severely impacted by the event, and went through extensive psychological counseling, including Primal Scream therapy.

In 1971, Robert Durst met Kathleen "Kathieā€ McCormack, then still a teenager, while she was living in one of his father's buildings on East 52nd Street. They soon fell in love and were married.

The couple moved to Vermont to open a health food store called All Good Things. By all accounts, they were happy and devoted to each other in those early years.

In 1973, under pressure to join the family business, Robert and Katie gave up the health food store and moved back to Manhattan and into a Penthouse apartment owned by his father. They also bought a small weekend house on Lake Truesdale outside New York City. He began working at the Durst Organization.

Katie became pregnant and, under pressure from Robert who did not want to have children, had an abortion. Giving up her hope of becoming a mother, Katie went back to school near the lake house to study nursing.

After graduating from nursing school, Katie was accepted at the prestigious Albert Einstein School of Medicine and begins medical school.

By 1980, Kathie began to talk with friends of a troubled marriage and domestic abuse.

In 1981, Kathie Durst hired a divorce lawyer, though a divorce was never filed.

On Sunday, January 31, 1982, Kathie Durst was seen for the last time at a party in Connecticut where she told several people she was afraid of what her husband might do to her. She spoke by phone with her husband that evening and he asked her to meet him at the couple's weekend house on Lake Truesdale. Neighbors saw her car pull up to the lake cottage that evening. She was never heard from again.

Four days later, Robert walked into an Upper West Side police station and reported his wife missing, saying they'd had an argument and he'd dropped her off in Katonah to take the train into the City, and had spoken to her later that night when she arrived at their penthouse apartment. Though doormen reported seeing her at the apartment that night and the next morning, getting into a taxi, Robert told police he did not hear from her again. Train conductors interviewed later said that they had not seen her on the un-crowded train.

The investigation at the time was limited primarily to New York City, since that is where Durst said his wife had last been seen. The case was treated as a missing persons case. Kathie's family describes that their efforts to enlist the Durst family in helping to locate her were rebuffed.

The case is still considered open and unsolved, though Kathie was declared legally deceased in 2001. Despite the reopening of the investigation into the role of Durst, he has never been charged with her murder.

In 1994, Robert's younger brother Douglas was appointed as his father's successor, and Robert stopped going to the Durst offices. Robert continued living in Manhattan until 2000, when the investigation was re-opened by Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, based on a tip from a man arrested for exposing himself to women on the Bedford riding trails. As the investigation was publicized, Robert fled to Galveston, Texas, and changed his identity, posing as a mute woman.

On Christmas Eve, 2000, days before Robert's life-long friend, the flamboyant journalist Susan Berman, was scheduled to talk to police about the Kathie Durst case as part of the new investigation, she was found murdered in her Benedict Canyon home, with a single bullet to the back of the head. There was no sign of forced entry, suggesting she knew her killer. Durst, who had recently been in contact with Berman and had sent her two checks for $25,000, was considered a suspect, but was never pursued because Los Angeles Police were investigating her manager, though that investigation led nowhere. The crime has never been solved, and Durst has never been charged.

Robert was arrested in 2001 in Texas after dismembered parts of his neighbor, 71 year-old Morris Black, were discovered floating in Galveston Bay. He then failed to appear at his initial hearing, evading police for seven weeks as he travelled back to visit places from his past, including the lake house he shared with his former wife Kathie. He was ultimately apprehended in Pennsylvania after shoplifting a chicken sandwich and a Band-Aid. A search of Robert's car revealed that, in addition to two guns and $37,000 in cash, he had used Black's driver's license to rent the car.

Robert Durst went on trial for the murder of Morris Black in Texas in 2003. Durst claimed Black's death was an accident and result of self-defense after Black, known as a loner and drifter, broke into his apartment and they tussled over a gun. He also admitted to cutting up Black's body with a hacksaw and a paring knife, but lawyers argued he did so because he became irrational after the shock of Black's accidental death, and was afraid that given his history, no one would believe he had not murdered his neighbor.

In November of 2003 a Texas jury acquitted Robert of the murder charges. Members of the jury reported not having been convinced by prosecutors that the killing was premeditated.

In 2004, Durst was found guilty of bond jumping and illegal disposal of a body. He was given a sentence of five years, but was paroled in 2005, having served only nine months.

In 2006, Durst was returned to jail after having being spotted by the Galveston trial judge in a Houston shopping mall in violation of his parole. He was released after 26 days.

In 2006, Durst agreed to cut all ties to Durst family trusts in exchange for $65 million.


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