Robert Durst, Real Estate Scion Convicted as a Killer, Dies at 78

Robert Durst, Real Estate Scion Convicted as a Killer, Dies at 78

By Keiko Morris

Real estate scion Robert Durst had dodged justice for nearly four decades.

Long considered the lone suspect in the disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen McCormack, in New York in 1982, Durst seemed to flit in and out law enforcement and the public’s attention in the years after she vanished.

In Texas, he avoided prison time in a bizarre murder trial even after admitting to dismembering and dumping his neighbor’s body in the Galveston Bay. And for 15 years, he eluded Los Angeles investigators who suspected he killed his close friend Susan Berman at her Benedict Canyon home in order to stop her from cooperating with a renewed probe into Kathie’s disappearance.

Durst’s good fortune finally ran out in September, when he was convicted of killing Berman. The next month, he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in a California prison. A few weeks after that, New York prosecutors finally charged him in his wife’s death.

Durst, 78, died of natural causes at 6:44 a.m. Monday at a hospital near Stockton, according to a statement issued by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Chip Lewis, a longtime member of Durst’s legal team, said the real estate scion’s death was “associated with the litany of medical issues we had repeatedly reported to the court over the last couple of years.”

Durst’s health was an issue throughout his trial. He was briefly hospitalized in June when he collapsed ahead of a court hearing, and his attorneys once sought a mistrial arguing Durst was too sick to testify in his own defense. A physician at Cedars-Sinai who treated Durst had claimed the defendant was “profoundly malnourished” and at risk of “sudden death” from elevated levels of potassium. Shortly after he was sentenced in October, Durst was placed on a ventilator after contracting COVID-19, his lead attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said.

After a life spent eluding law enforcement, Durst’s death will also serve as one final evasion of justice.

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