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Real estate magnate Robert Durst charged with murder in wife's death, Weschester DA says

Real estate heir Robert Durst was sentenced earlier

Real estate heir Robert Durst was sentenced earlier this month to life in prison without parole for the murder of his best friend more than 20 years ago. Above, Durst is seen ast his murder trial in Los Angeles in March 2020. Credit: Pool via AP / Robyn Beck

Millionaire real estate scion Robert Durst has been charged with murder in the death of his first wife, Kathie Durst, nearly four decades after she disappeared and just days after he was sentenced to life in prison in California for killing a confidante who helped him cover up the slaying.

Authorities in the New York City suburbs confirmed Friday that they have charged Durst, 78, whose lawyers say has been hospitalized on a ventilator in Los Angeles after testing positive for COVID-19.

A state police investigator filed a criminal complaint Tuesday in a town court in Lewisboro, New York, charging Durst with second-degree murder in the death of Kathie Durst, who vanished in 1982. He had not been previously charged in Kathie Durst’s disappearance.

The case garnered renewed public interest after HBO aired a documentary in 2015 in which the eccentric heir appeared to admit killing people, stepping off camera and muttering to himself on a live microphone: "Killed them all, of course."

Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah issued a statement Friday: "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."

Robert Abrams of Lake Success, a lawyer for Kathie Durst's family, said in a statement: "Robert Durst has now been formally charged with the murder of Kathleen McCormack Durst. We are very happy with this development. At this time, however, we will not be making any further comments until the grand jury process is completed."

Kathie McCormack Durst's parents moved their family to Long Island from New York City in 1962, settling in a Cape Cod-style home in New Hyde Park. Kathie, the youngest of five children, was 14 years old when her father, a telephone representative died in 1966 at the age of 56 from colon cancer.

Kathie graduated from New Hyde Park Memorial High School, where she was a member of the National Honor Society. After graduation, she moved to Manhattan, where she worked as a dental assistant. She met Durst, nine years her senior, at a party in New York in 1971.

Messages seeking comment were left with Durst’s lawyers.

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."

Kathie Durst was 29 and in her final months of medical school when she was last seen. She and Robert Durst, who was 38 at the time, had been married nearly nine years and were living in South Salem, a community in Lewisboro. Her body was never found. At the request of her family, she was declared legally dead in 2017.

Durst’s family owns more than 16 million square feet of real estate in New York and Philadelphia, including a 10% stake in One World Trade Center, the Manhattan skyscraper formerly known as the Freedom Tower. Family members bought out Robert Durst’s stake in the business for $65 million in 2006.

Durst, testifying in the Los Angeles trial in August, denied killing Kathie Durst.

With Newsday reporter Michael O'Keeffe

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