The Mysteries of Robert Durst
Growing up the son of millionaire real estate mogul Seymour Durst
allowed a young Robert Durst (pictured) to enjoy an affluent
upbringing, but his childhood was not without heartache. At age 7,
Durst witnessed his mother's apparent suicide when she plunged from
the roof of the family mansion – an event psychologists reportedly
theorized led to "deep anger" and possible mental illness.
Robert Durst married Kathleen McCormack in 1973 when he was 27 and
she only 19. Nine years later, Kathie, as she was known by those
close to her, disappeared. Durst told police he last saw his wife
when he dropped her off at a Westchester County train station.
Friends say she complained of problems in her marriage. Durst has
never been charged in connection with her disappearance, and the
1982 case remains unsolved.
daughter of late reputed mobster David Berman, Susan Berman met
Robert Durst when the two were students at UCLA. The pair, who
shared the fact that their mothers committed suicide, remained close
friends for decades until she was shot execution-style in her home
on Dec. 24, 2000. Her death came just as New York investigators, who
renewed their interest in Kathie Durst's disappearance, were
preparing to interview her about the case.
Under an assumed name – and at times disguised as a woman named
Dorothy Ciner – Robert Durst rented an apartment in Galveston,
Texas, in April 2001. Living in the same complex was 71-year-old
Morris Black (pictured), who was not well liked by his neighbors,
according to the landlord.
Morris Black's body parts – except his head – washed up on a rock
jetty in Galveston's Channelview Drive on Sept. 30, 2001. An autopsy
revealed evidence of a particularly brutal murder and the fact that
Black had died of a heart attack, probably brought on by the assault. Durst
was arrested for the murder shortly after.
Durst posted $350,000 bail and then became the country's first
billion-dollar fugitive. More than a month after fleeing,
Pennsylvania police arrested him for shoplifting a sandwich from a
Bath, Pa., supermarket on Nov. 30, 2001.
Before being extradited to Texas to face charges for Morris' murder,
Durst, pictured leaving a Northampton County, Pa., courtroom following
a hearing on Dec. 3, 2001, was placed on suicide watch, his lawyer
Durst, pictured with defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin, has had a rocky
relationship with his attorney. After DeGuerin and his co-counsel
requested $600,000 in additional fees from his millionaire client,
an indignant Durst asked the judge permission to fire his legal
team. The judge, however, had the parties settle their differences
in time for jury selection.
Durst, pictured in court with DeGuerin, faces a four- to six-week
trial before Judge Susan Criss in Galveston and could get life in
prison if convicted of murder. The defense does not deny that Durst
killed Black, but says the killing was self-defense. Although Durst
is not charged with dismembering the body, his lawyers have
suggested he may have done so in an altered state.
Regardless of the outcome of the trial for the murder of Morris
Black, other mysteries continue to surround Robert Durst.
Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro has stepped up the
investigation into the disappearance of Kathie Durst, and
speculation continues to abound about possible connections Durst had
to the murder of Susan Berman. He has never been charged in either
shadows of jurors in the trial of multi-millionaire murder defendant
Robert Durst visit the area where victim's body parts washed up
Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2003, in Galveston, Texas.
Robert Durst, pictured peering over the witness box during a break
in his testimony, took the stand to tell his side of the story in
the death of his neighbor, Morris Black. Durst described "blood
everywhere" and admitted dismembering Black's body, but denied
Robert Durst, who has trouble expressing his emotions, his lawyer
says, expressed little from the defense table during closing
arguments in his murder trial.
Durst awaits a verdict from the Galveston jury after 26 hours of
Robert Durst appeared astonished to hear the not-guilty verdict
rendered by 12 jurors. Members of the panel later told the press
that the prosecution did not present enough evidence to prove Durst
murdered his 71-year-old neighbor intentionally or with premeditated
malice. One juror, Chris Lovell, credited the defense with sticking
to one story from the very beginning of the case and not wavering,
as prosecutors did. "They gave us two different stories," Lovell
said, describing it as a situation of "we're going to find Robert
Durst guilty. You pick the reason."
Galveston, Texas - November 10, 2003: Millionaire murder defendant
Robert Durst at the Galveston County Courthuose