The arrest of Robert Durst on March 14, 2015 made national headlines and introduced people all around the world to a man who has lived a very strange life. In true made-for-tv fashion, Mr. Durst was arrested less than 24 hours before the final episode of a documentary exploring his connection to a strange disappearance and two deaths aired on TV. If the allegations about Mr. Durst are true, it’s possible that his motivation for murder was a fear of divorce.
Did the threat of divorce lead to a murder?
Kathleen Durst, Robert Durst’s wife, disappeared in 1982 at the age of 29. Friends of Kathleen reported that she was unhappy in her marriage and that her husband had become abusive. Mr. Durst claimed he last saw his wife when he dropped her off at the train station for a trip into Manhattan. No trace of Mrs. Durst has even been found.
Mr. Durst’s actions after her disappearance appeared odd, including allegations he threw out all her belongings within days of reporting her absence to the police. Some have speculated that Durst murdered his wife to stop her from seeking a divorce. Despite suspicion, no evidence has ever connected Robert Durst to the disappearance of Kathleen Durst. Their marriage and Kathleen’s disappearance was used as source material for the movie, All Good Things.
Was Susan Berman silenced?
When the police could find no new leads in Kathleen Durst’s disappearance, the story eventually faded from the headlines. It remained a cold case for nearly 18 years. In 2000, a woman named Susan Berman was found shot to death in her California home. Ms. Berman was a close friend of Robert Durst and had acted as his spokesperson during the investigation into his wife’s disappearance.
Police in California immediately suspected Mr. Durst and questioned him under the theory that he had murdered Berman to stop her from revealing information about his wife’s disappearance. This started a chain reaction that led to the New York police reopening the missing persons case of Kathleen Durst and looking at Durst as a suspect. Despite extensive media coverage and new investigations, no charges were brought against Mr. Durst in either case in 2000.
What the death of Morris Black revealed
In 2001, Robert Durst was arrested in Texas for the murder of a man named Morris Black. During the trial, it was revealed that Mr. Durst moved to Texas to escape the media attention from the death of Susan Berman. He disguised himself as a mute woman and lived in low rent apartment where Mr. Black was his neighbor and friend. He claimed that Mr. Black attacked him during an argument and he was forced to kill him in self defense. In shock over what had happened, he dismembered Mr. Black’s body and attempted to dispose of the pieces in Galveston Bay. In a stunning verdict, the jury found Durst not guilty of murder. He plead to some lesser charges related to the incident and spent only a few years in jail.
A TV show leads to Durst’s arrest
On February 8, 2015 the 6-part documentary, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, premiered on HBO. It was written and directed by Andrew Jarecki, the director of the 2010 movie, All Good Things. Ever since making that movie, he had been fascinated with the Durst story.
While the documentary talked about Durst’s whole life, including the disappearance of Kathleen Durst and the death of Morris Black, it focused primarily on the murder of Susan Berman. The documentary presented newly discovered evidence that appeared to connect Durst to Berman’s murder and confirm the suspicion that he murdered her to keep her quiet about his wife’s disappearance.
That new evidence was apparently so compelling, that the Los Angeles police department issued a warrant for Durst’s arrest before the final episode of the documentary was broadcast in fear he might flee the country. Now in custody, the world is waiting to hear what Robert Durst might say next.