Real Estate Heir Robert Durst Indicted in 1982 Murder of Wife Kathie Durst

By Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly is an assignment editor and world news reporter based in Australia. She has a background in optometry. Contact her at
November 1, 2021 Updated: November 2, 2021

Robert Durst was indicted Monday for murder in the death of his first wife, Kathie Durst, who disappeared nearly four decades ago.

“Durst, 78, was charged by a Westchester County Grand Jury in an indictment on Nov. 1, 2021, with Murder in the Second Degree,” the office of New York’s Westchester County District Attorney announced.

“When Kathleen Durst disappeared on Jan. 31, 1982, her family and friends were left with pain, anguish and questions that have contributed to their unfaltering pursuit of justice for the last 39 years,” District Attorney Mimi Rocah said in a statement. “The District Attorney’s Office reinvigorated its investigation into Robert Durst just 10 months ago when I took Office, launched the Cold Case Bureau, and dedicated the resources and skill that I thought this case deserved.”

Durst’s indictment is a “huge step forward in the pursuit of justice for Kathie Durst, her family and victims of domestic violence everywhere,” Rocah said.

In New York, all felony cases require a grand jury indictment to proceed to trial unless a defendant waives that requirement.

A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Previously, Durst was charged in a complaint filed on Oct. 19, 2021, with Murder in the Second Degree over his wife’s disappearance in 1982. A week prior to that, he was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his best friend in 2000.

He is currently serving that life sentence after having been transferred last week to a state prison hospital. The transfer happened less than two weeks after he was hospitalized with COVID-19.

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. Robert Durst divorced her in 1990 citing abandonment. At the request of her family, she was declared legally dead in 2017.

Durst was later found guilty of having shot his longtime confidante Susan Berman, 55, in the back of the head at her Beverly Hills home in December 2000. He was also found guilty of the special circumstances of lying in wait and killing a witness, which carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Berman had provided a false alibi for Durst when Kathie went missing, and that Berman, before her death, was prepared to tell police how she helped cover up Kathleen’s killing, prosecutors said.

In addition to having killed his wife and Berman, Durst also killed a neighbor in Galveston, Texas, in 2001, prosecutors alleged. The neighbor, Morris Black, had discovered Durst’s identity when Durst was hiding from law enforcement. Durst was acquitted of the murder charge after he testified that he had shot Black in self-defense.

However, Durst admitted to having dismembered the body, and was convicted of destroying evidence for discarding the body parts.

Separately, Durst in 2016 was sentenced to over seven years in prison after pleading guilty to a federal weapons charge stemming from a 2015 arrest in New Orleans.

Durst is the grandson of Joseph Durst, who founded the Durst Organization, one of New York City’s largest real estate companies. His father, Seymour, took charge of the company and later handed control of it to Durst’s younger brother, Douglas.

Robert Durst settled his share of the family fortune and was estimated by prosecutors to have $100 million. Family members bought out Robert Durst’s stake in the business for $65 million in 2006.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly is an assignment editor and world news reporter based in Australia. She has a background in optometry. Contact her at