Robert Durst, real estate scion suspected of killing New Hyde Park native ex-wife, dies at 78

Robert Durst, real estate scion suspected of killing New Hyde Park native ex-wife, dies at 78
Robert Durst's mugshot. (Photo courtesy of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation)

Robert Durst, the real estate scion who was married to New Hyde Park native Kathleen McCormack Durst before her disappearance in 1982, died Monday. 

In a press release, the California Department of Corrections said Durst, 78, died of natural causes while being treated at a hospital. In October, Durst contracted COVID-19, days after being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for killing his longtime friend Susan Berman in 2000.

Durst has long been suspected of being responsible for Kathleen Durst’s disappearance, a case he was indicted for last year on charges of second-degree murder. Robert Abrams, the McCormack family lawyer, said following his death he plans to reveal more information.

“Although Robert Durst has died, the ongoing investigation into those who helped him cover up her murder continues,” Abrams said in a statement, according to multiple reports. “On January 31, 2022, the 40th anniversary of Kathie’s murder, we will provide a further update. In the interim, please say a prayer for Kathie and his other victims.”

Kathleen McCormack Durst, a graduate of New Hyde Park Memorial High School, disappeared in 1982 at the age of 29. In 2017, she was declared legally dead by a Manhattan court. 

Durst, who in the 2015 HBO miniseries “The Jinx” was recorded saying, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course” on a hot microphone,  denied the allegations. Kathleen McCormack, the youngest of five children, married Durst in 1971. 

Seven years ago, McCormack’s sisters and then-101-year-old mother filed suit in state Supreme Court in Mineola against Durst, alleging that he had murdered Kathleen McCormack Durst and caused the family “extreme emotional distress, humiliation, mental and physical anguish, as well as economic losses” by keeping her body hidden.

Prosecutors claimed Durst first murdered Kathleen Durst, who was looking to divorce him, and years later shot Berman to cover his tracks. Berman, a journalist, was found dead in 2000 on Christmas Eve, lying in a pool of blood after being shot in the back of the head in her Los Angeles home.

Efforts to reach a member of the McCormack family or Durst’s legal team for comment were unavailing.

Durst was also acquitted in the 2001 slaying of Morris Black, his elderly neighbor in Galveston, Texas, whose body was dismembered with an ax and bone saw. Prosecutors tied the Black slaying to alleged attempts by Durst to cover his tracks.

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