Hospitalized Robert Durst Charged in New York With Murder of Wife Who Disappeared in 1982

Millionaire real estate heir Robert Durst was charged in New York Tuesday for the death of his wife, who vanished nearly 40 years ago, the Associated Press reported. The charges against Durst, 78, were filed in the days since he was hospitalized with COVID-19 and placed on a ventilator, according to one of his lawyers.

Last week, Durst was sentenced to life in prison without parole in California for the murder of Susan Berman, a confidante who prosecutors say helped him cover up Kathie Durst's alleged killing. Robert Durst shot Berman in 2000 to stop her from confessing her role in his wife's death to authorities, according to Los Angeles prosecutors.

Kathie Durst went missing in January 1982 when she was 29 years old. While her body was never discovered, her family had her declared legally dead in 2017. Robert Durst divorced her in 1990, citing legal abandonment as his reason, the AP reported.

A state police investigator filed the criminal complaint in Lewisboro, alleging that Robert Durst was guilty of second-degree murder. The charges came after several bids over the years to close the case with Kathie Durst, which was reopened in 1999, according to the AP.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Robert Durst Charged for Wife's Murder
Robert Durst, a millionaire real estate heir, was charged in New York Tuesday for the death of his wife, who vanished nearly 40 years ago. Durst, 78, sits in the courtroom as he is sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole in a separate murder case on Thursday, October 14, 2021 at the Airport Courthouse in Los Angeles. Myung J. Chung/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool

The filing on Tuesday wasn't announced at the time by any law enforcement officials or Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah, who recently convened a grand jury to also consider charges.

"The Westchester County District Attorney's Office can confirm that a complaint charging Robert Durst with the murder of Kathleen Durst was filed in Lewisboro Town Court on October 19, 2021. We have no further comment at this time," her office said in a statement Friday.

The one-page felony complaint filed in Lewisboro cites evidence in the files of the Westchester district attorney, the New York State Police and the Los Angeles district attorney, as well as "conversations with numerous witnesses and observations of defendants, recorded interviews and observations of Mr. Durst's recorded interviews and court testimony in related proceedings."

The grand jury was empaneled last week and has started hearing witness testimony, a person familiar with the matter told the AP this week. The person was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and did so on condition of anonymity. The grand jury process is expected to take several weeks and could also produce an indictment on top of the town charge.

A message seeking comment was left for Durst's lawyer and Kathie Durst's family.

After Berman's death in 2000, Durst went into hiding, disguising himself as a mute woman living in a cheap apartment in Galveston, Texas. There, he killed a neighbor and chopped up his body, but was later acquitted after telling the jury he did it in self-defense.

In the 2015 HBO documentary The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, Durst appeared to admit killing people and admitted he made up details about what happened the night his wife disappeared because he was "hoping that would just make everything go away."

Durst, testifying in the Los Angeles trial, denied killing Kathie Durst. After her medical school called to report that she hadn't been going to class, he said he figured she was "out someplace having fun" and suggested that perhaps drug use was to blame.

"It hadn't occurred to me that anything had happened to her," Durst testified in August. "It was more like: What had Kathie done to Kathie?"

Durst was also sentenced in 2016 to over seven years in prison after pleading guilty to a federal weapons charge stemming from a 2015 arrest in New Orleans.

Robert Durst Sentencing
New York real estate heir Robert Durst was sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole for the murder of his best friend more than two decades ago. Durst, 78, sits in the courtroom as he is sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole, Thursday, October 14, 2021 at the Airport Courthouse in Los Angeles. Myung J. Chung/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool