Many of us wonder about the justice system that is currently in place. Some who have been harmed often feel that justice isn’t served until the people who hurt them are also hurt. And some people believe that the justice system works for some individuals but not for others. Robert Durst was a real estate heir who was married to Kathleen McCormack. McCormack disappeared in the early 1980s and another woman connected to Durst, Susan Berman, was found dead in 2000. As of today, Robert Durst has not been convicted for the death of Susan Berman or the disappearance of Kathleen McCormack.
Robert Durst – The Early Years
Suspect Robert Durst did not come from what some people think of as a typical criminal background. Durst is the son of real estate investor Seymour Durst and Bernice Herstein. Robert Durst grew up with two brothers and one sister. His family origins are from Austria-Hungary and Durst grew up in Scarsdale, New York.
All was not well in the Durst household from the beginning. Sibling rivalry is pretty common among those who have siblings, but Robert and his brother Douglas had to go to counseling for their severe sibling rivalry. A psychiatrist reported that a then-ten-year-old Robert Durst had “personality decomposition and possibly even schizophrenia.”
Was this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning for Robert Durst?
Graduation and Separation All in One for Robert Durst
After graduating from high school, Robert Durst would go on to attend Lehigh University. While Durst attended Lehigh University, he would eventually become a member of the varsity lacrosse team in addition to being an editor for the school’s newspaper. He majored in Economics and earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics in 1965.
Many people who graduate look forward to starting their career and applying their skills that they learned from all of those years in college. He enrolled in a doctoral program at UCLE and met a woman who would forever be connected to his name. She was Susan Berman. Durst ended up in New York again in 1969 and worked for his father’s real estate business. His brother Douglas ended up running the family business and this caused Robert Durst to separate from his family as they would go on and estrange him from the family altogether.
Would things turn out for the better or worse for Durst?
Durst Hears Wedding Bells with Kathleen McCormack
After the rift between Robert Durst and his family, he happened to find the love that he sought elsewhere.Durst would find love in a woman by the name of Kathleen McCormack. He met Kathleen in the fall of 1971. She was a dental hygienist by trade. They only went out on two dates before they moved in with each other in Vermont.
All seemed to be going well after Durst started dating Kathleen. He became a business man and opened a health food store. Durst’s father Seymour Durst started to miss his son and he wanted Durst to move back to New York City to give him another chance to work in the family business. Robert Durst took his father’s advice and he and Kathleen moved to Manhattan. They were married in April 1973.
Did their marriage work out?
The Mysterious Disappearance of Kathleen Durst
Kathleen McCormack Durst decided to further her education and she went on to study medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine which is located in the Bronx. She had intentions on graduating and then becoming a pediatrician. She was in her final year of study when she all of a sudden went missing.
Kathleen was in Newton, Connecticut when she was last seen by friends. She was in Connecticut attending a dinner party. She was last seen on the evening of January 31, 1982. Kathleen later appeared at a friend’s house that night and seemed upset. She was wearing red sweatpants, which was out of the ordinary according to Kathleen’s friend since she was usually dressed in better clothing. She got into an argument with Durst and left South Salem, New York. Robert claimed that he put her on a train to New York City, and that he went to go drink at a neighbor’s house afterwards. He also said that he spoke to his wife on the telephone later that evening.
Whatever happened to Kathleen McCormack Durst?
The Whereabouts of Kathleen McCormack Durst
Shifting the scene to Manhattan, Kathleen left her friend’s house and was supposed to meet her friend at local pub in Manhattan called The Lion’s Gate. Her friend started to become concerned when Kathleen did not show up at the pub.
This led her friend to contact police and Kathleen’s friend called the police several times over the course of seven days out of concern for Kathleen. A few days later, Robert Durst ended up filing a missing person’s report. It was discovered that a doorman at one of the two apartments where the Durst’s resided saw Kathleen on February 1st, which was one day after other people had seen her. The doorman added that he could not tell if it was Kathleen because he only saw a woman from behind.
There are two sides to every story.
Kathleen McCormack Durst: The Untold Story
It was discovered that Kathleen McCormack Durst was treated at a Bronx hospital a few weeks before she was reported missing. She had noticeable bruises on her face. Kathleen told a friend that she had indeed been beaten by Robert Durst, but she did not go to the police and press charges on him.
There were plans for a divorce and Kathleen McCormack Durst asked Durst for a $250,000 divorce settlement. Robert Durst then canceled Kathleen’s credit card and removed her name from their joint bank account. He also stopped paying for his wife’s medical school tuition. While Kathleen was missing, Durst dated Mia Farrow’s sister Prudence and was living in another apartment. He offered $100,000 for Kathleen’s return. Someone also saw Robert Durst throwing out Kathleen’s belongings, but he denied this. A friend and a sister of Kathleen’s broke into Kathleen’s cottage hoping to find Kathleen, but instead they found the place ravaged and found Kathleen’s mail unopened.
Robert Durst Tries to Explain Kathleen’s Disappearance
All eyes seemed to point at Robert Durst after Kathleen went missing. The police then questioned Robert Durst and said that Durst claimed to have last spoken to Kathleen when she called him at their cottage from Manhattan.
Robert Durst also said that the last time he saw her was at the Katonah train station. He said that she was going to board a 21:15 train to Manhattan. Robert Durst went on to tell the police that on February 4, Kathleen’s supervisor at her medical school called him and told him that she had called in sick on February 1 and did not show for class the whole week. Robert said that he reported Kathleen as missing after the medical school said she did not show up for class. The police saw contradictions in Robert’s stories.
The plot is thicker than cake batter. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
Kathleen McCormack is Declared Deceased by her Family
After weeks and weeks of searching, Kathleen McCormack Durst was now believed to be dead. Her family was convinced that she was deceased, and her mother Ann McCormack had previously attempted to sue Robert Durst for $100 million. It is strongly believed by Kathleen’s younger sister Mary McCormack Hughes that Robert Durst not only had something to do with her disappearance, but that Robert Durst had also murdered her.
Kathleen McCormack Durst’s parents have since passed away and it is still widely believed by the McCormack family that Robert Durst is the guilty person. Time had passed from the eighties and the New York State police secretly reopened the case again. They went to Durst’s former South Salem abode and in 2000 the investigation was public once again.
Did Robert Durst get busted, or did he move on?
The Robert Durst Story Continues: Enter Susan Berman
Susan Berman became another love interest of Robert Durst after the disappearance of his first wife Kathleen McCormack Durst. Susan Berman was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1945 and she was an only child. Her mother Betty Ewald was a traveling dancer and her father Davie Berman was a member of the mob. Her father David Berman replaced Bugsy Seigel at the Flamingo Hotel after Siegel’s gangland murder.
Susan Berman always said that her father passed away due to mysterious circumstances that involved him on an operating table. She was just twelve years old when her father passed away. She grew up in Las Vegas. She moved to Hollywood, California and graduated from high school in 1967. She met Robert Durst in 1969 when Robert Durst attended UCLA. She was paid $4.3 million by the Mafia for her father’s interests in properties including casinos.
Were there rough times ahead for Susan Berman?
Life Before Robert Durst
After briefly meeting Robert Durst in the late 60s, Susan Berman resided in Hollywood around Sunset Strip on Alta Loma Road. She stayed here for years until she moved to Benedict Canyon. She became a writer and she had a manager named Nyle Brenner. Nyle Brenner would go on to tell the Los Angeles Times that “many details of Ms. Berman’s personal life are unclear.”
He also told the Los Angeles Times “she had been married once in the 1980s, and later helped rear the two children of a boyfriend.” Susan Berman married a man named David Margulies. David Marguiles died of a heroin overdose in 1986. Ironically, when Susan Berman married David Marguiles in 1984, Robert Durst walked her down the aisle.
Did Susan end up dating or marrying Robert Durst?
Susan Berman is Found Murdered: Who is the Culprit?
Susan Berman would have a missed connection indeed. Susan was a friend of Robert Durst and she even corroborated with Robert Durst for his public alibi when Kathleen McCormack Durst disappeared. Susan Berman was paid $50,000 by Robert Durst as well.
Susan was found murdered in an execution style shooting in her Benedict Canyon home on December 24, 2000. Could it have been someone in her past who carried out the murder, or could it have been Robert Durst who carried out her murder? Robert Durst was reportedly seen in the area a few days before Susan Berman was killed. Robert Durst returned to New York the night before Berman was discovered dead.
Did Durst Carry Out the Murder of Susan Berman?
Robert Durst said that he contacted Susan Berman by phone in a deposition in 2005, shortly before she was assassinated. Robert Durst said that the Los Angeles Police Department talked to her about the disappearance of Kathleen McCormack Durst.
According to the Guardian, there is some uncertainty about the actual call regarding the Los Angeles Police Department made to Susan Berman. The Guardian was also uncertain about former District Attorney Jeanine Pirro reached out to Berman and scheduled a call with Berman. Durst moved to Galveston, Texas in 2000. He stayed in a boarding house and he was posing as a woman to avoid police questions. Cathy Scott is an author who wrote Berman’s biography and she believes Robert Durst killed Berman because she knew something about McCormack’s disappearance.
Are the pieces of this puzzle starting to fit?
Robert Durst is Finally Arrested
Robert Durst was arrested on March 14, 2015, in New Orleans because there was a warrant for his arrest. The warrant was for first degree murder which was issued from Los Angeles. The bizarre thing about his arrest is that a victim was not named immediately as it related to his 2015 arrest.
Reports initially believed that his arrest was in connection with the murder of Susan Berman. One person by the name of Jackie Lacey, who is a Los Angeles District Attorney, said that if Robert Durst is convicted, he could get the death penalty because of “special circumstances of murder of a witness and lying in wait.” Durst was transferred to California from New Orleans, Louisiana in November 2016.
Connecting the Dots is the Key to Solving Everything
Sources were sought out in order to connect the disappearance of Kathleen McCormack Durst and the murder of Susan Berman throughout the years. One of the sources that became of vital importance was a book called Murder of a Mafia Daughter which was written by author Cathy Scott.
In Cathy Scott’s book, there was reportedly a connection between Kathleen McCormack’s disappearance and Susan Berman’s assassination. Susan Berman was a friend of Robert Durst, and after she met him, he moved back to New York some time later and met Kathleen McCormack. According to True Crime Zine: “detectives came to suspect one of [Berman’s] long-time friends but have never been able to charge him with murder.” Durst was considered to be a suspect in McCormack’s disappearance, but he was never charged in the case.
If Durst did not do it, then who committed these crimes?
Another Person, Another Murder Linked to Robert Durst
While Robert Durst resided in Galveston, Texas, he had a neighbor by the name of Morris Black. Morris Black was an elderly man whose body parts were found floating in Galveston Bay. Robert Durst was arrested on October 9, 2001, in connection with Morris Black’s remains being found in Galveston Bay.
Robert Durst was released on $300,000 bail the day after he was arrested. Durst was supposed to appear at a court hearing on October 16, but he jumped bail and a warrant was issued for his arrest. This plot thickens as he was arrested on November 30 when he was caught stealing a chicken salad sandwich, bandages, and a newspaper at Wegmans supermarket. He had money to pay for the items but he stole those items anyway. Police searched Durst’s rented car and found Morris Black’s drivers license, $37,000, marijuana, and two guns. Directions to the home of Gilberte Najamy, who was a former confidante of McCormack, was found in the car also. Najamy has publicly stated for years that McCormack was missing because of Durst.
Two murders and one missing person: Was there enough evidence to connect all of this to Robert Durst? Did Robert Durst go to jail?
Robert Durst Ends Up Behind Bars
Robert Durst appeared in court and pleaded guilty to two counts of bail jumping and one count of evidence tampering in 2004. Robert Durst received a sentence of five years, and he was required to serve three years. He also got credit for time served because of a plea bargain.
Robert Durst was paroled in 2005. There were terms set on his release which required him to stay near his home. He had to get permission to travel as part of his terms. He violated his parole terms by making an unauthorized trip to the boarding house where Black was killed and he also went to a shopping mall nearby. He just happened to run into the judge that convicted him in Galveston, Susan Criss, and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles determined he violated the terms of his parole. Durst was sent back to jail. On March 1, 2006, he was released, but a few days after a first-degree murder warrant was signed by a judge in Los Angeles relating to a relation to the Berman killing. Durst was once again arrested by the FBI on March 14, 2015 in Louisiana. He used the fake name of “Everette Ward” while he was in Louisiana. He was found with a latex mask, marijuana, $42,631 in cash.
Do all roads lead to nowhere regarding Kathleen McCormack and Susan Berman?
Enter Investigator Joseph Becerra and the Feds
New York State Police investigator Joseph Becerra has been involved with the case pertaining to Kathleen McCormack Durst for a very long time. He had worked with the FBI and detectives from Los Angeles and they found 60 boxes of personal effects and documents that belonged to Durst.
The detectives found out about Debrah Lee Charatan and found that this was Robert Durst’s wife who had kept Robert’s records for years. They also found videotaped depositions of Debrah Lee Charatan and Douglas Durst and these were related to the Morris Black case. John Lewin is an attorney who found compelling evidence about Durst in the HBO documentary called The Jinx.
Durst Could Face Life Imprisonment for Another Charge
Dick DeGuerin is the attorney for Robert Durst. He tried to advised court authorities in New Orleans about Durst about waiving extradition and said that Durst would voluntarily return to California. On this same day Louisiana State Police filed charges against Durst for felony possession of a firearm and another charge for possession of a firearm with a controlled substance. This delayed Durst’s immediate return to California.
Leon Cannizzaro is a Orleans Parish District Attorney who made an interesting comment about the charges against Durst. Cannizzaro said that, in light of prior convictions, which coincidentally could have had an influence on Robert Durst being sentenced, exclaimed: “[j]ust for those gun charges here in Louisiana, [Durst] could face up to life in prison.” Durst was denied bail on March 23 by a Louisiana judge after prosecutors said he would be a flight risk. DeGuerin went on the defense for Durst and presented questions relating to the validity of the New Orleans arrest and hotel room search and DeGuerin pointed out that a local judge did not issue a warrant until hours after his client was detained. He also said: “[t]he FBI … held him there, incommunicado, for almost eight hours.”
Watch what happens next as Durst remains in legal battles but of different charges….
The Back and Forth Legal Battles
By now you can see that Robert Durst’s life has gone in many different directions. We started with Durst being in his early adulthood and marrying Kathleen McCormack. After Kathleen’s mysterious disappearance, the assassination of Susan Berman occurred years later. In all of these scenarios Robert Durst had some sort of contact with these women shortly before their demise.
Durst has been in court and has been in jail for separate charges. DeGuerin continued that the $161,000 that the FBI seized was “not needed as evidence” and also said that “it is not contraband, and is not subject to forfeiture.” Negotiations were made with Durst’s defense team and Louisiana authorities finally dropped weapons charges against Durst on April 23, 2015.
What would become of Robert Durst’s now that those charges were dropped?
The Ongoing Court Battles and Yet No Answers Regarding McCormack and Berman
There were rumors that Robert Durst was now in bad health and that he suffers from what is known as hydrocephalus. Durst also had a stent put into his skull and a cancerous mass removed from his esophagus. Although the weapons and marijuana charges were dropped in April 2015, on December 16, 2015, prosecutors and defense attorneys told Judge Helen Berrigan in a joint motion that scheduling conflicts caused a rift that ruled out all dates before a January 11 trial date.
Berrigan decided to reschedule the trial for February 3, 2016. This time Durst changed his plea to guilty regarding the federal gun charge and he received an 85-month prison sentence. On November 4, 2016, Durst was transferred to California on and also arraigned on November 7, 2016. He then pleaded not guilty. District Attorney Lewin said the state would not seek the death penalty for his upcoming trial in which a preliminary hearing is set to begin on October 17, 2017.