Robert Durst, Convicted Murderer & Real Estate Heir, Dies In Prison At 78
Robert Durst, the son of a real-estate magnate who became a suspect in three murders including his first wife Kathleen McCormack, a friend Susan Berman who allegedly had knowledge of McCormack’s disappearance, and neighbor Morris Black, has died while serving a life sentence in prison in California.
Durst’s lawyer, Chip Lewis, confirmed that he was transferred to the San Joaquin General Hospital early Monday morning, where he suffered a heart attack and didn’t respond to attempts to resuscitate him. Durst had been suffering health problems through most of last year, including developing bladder cancer in May and testing positive for Covid-19 in September.
His defense repeatedly attempted to halt Durst’s 2021 murder trial by citing his medical condition, but it continued with Durst’s conviction for the first-degree murder of Berman in September. He was then sentenced to life in prison without parole the next month on October 14, 2021.
Durst’s brother, Douglas Durst, and longtime friend Nick Chavin were among those in his personal circle that provided testimonies supporting the prosecution. Some of the most damning evidence, however, came from Durst’s own statements including audio recordings from interviews with prosecutors via jailhouse phone calls, and 20 hours of interview footage recorded for the 2015 HBO docuseries The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.
In a moment that’s now infamous from the final episode of The Jinx, Robert Durst is caught confessing off-camera when he goes to the bathroom without turning his wireless microphone off. Along with several rambling statements, Durst is heard saying, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.” While the filmmakers later admitted the sequencing of some of his comments was altered for dramatic effect, the raw footage still spoke clearly to the jury.
Before the documentary reinvigorated interest in the case, criminal investigations around any of the crimes had stalled since 2003, where he received minor charges related to evidence tampering. McCormack’s remains were never located and Durst evaded suspicion for years, but her family filed a wrongful death suit in 2019 and finally got Durst charged for her death in October of 2021.
Robert Alan Durst was born in Manhattan on April 12, 1943, to Seymour and Bernice (née Hernstein) Durst. While well-off, Durst’s childhood was marked by trauma early when his mother died, which reportedly led to getting into fistfights and being a loner at school. He met Berman while taking graduate classes at UCLA, and married McCormack in 1973 after moving back to New York.
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