NEW YORK (AP) — Millionaire real estate scion Robert Durst, who was sentenced last week in California to life in prison for killing a confidante, has been charged in suburban New York City with the death of his wife, Kathie Durst, who vanished in 1982, authorities confirmed Friday.
A state police investigator filed a criminal complaint Tuesday in a town court in Lewisboro, New York, accusing Durst of second-degree murder.
The action wasn’t announced at the time by any law enforcement officials or Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah, who recently convened a grand jury to also consider charges.
“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,” her office said in a statement Friday.
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.”
The grand jury was empaneled last week and has started hearing witness testimony, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press this week. The person was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and did so on condition of anonymity. The grand jury process is expected to take several weeks and could also produce an indictment on top of the town charge.
A message seeking comment was left with for Durst’s lawyer and Kathie Durst’s family.
Robert Durst, 78, was sentenced last week to life in prison without parole for murdering a confidante who prosecutors say helped him cover up Kathie Durst’s killing. Los Angeles prosecutors say Durst shot Susan Berman in 2000 as she was preparing to confess her role to police.
After Berman’s death, Durst went into hiding, disguising himself as a mute woman living in a cheap apartment in Galveston, Texas. There, he killed a neighbor and chopped up his body, but was later acquitted after telling the jury he did it in self-defense.
Durst, who has numerous medical issues, sat in a wheelchair during much of the sentencing hearing and in the days since has been hospitalized on a ventilator after testing positive for COVID-19, one of his lawyers said.
Kathie Durst was 29 when she vanished on Jan. 31, 1982.
Her body was never found. At the request of her family, she was declared legally dead in 2017. Robert Durst divorced Kathie Durst in 1990 citing abandonment.
He was not charged in her disappearance until this week despite several efforts over the years to close the case. Authorities reopened the case in 1999, searching a lake and the couple’s home.
In the 2015 HBO documentary “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” Durst appeared to admit killing people and admitted he made up details about what happened the she disappeared because he was “hoping that would just make everything go away.”
Durst, testifying in the Los Angeles trial, denied killing Kathie Durst. After her medical school called to report that she hadn’t been going to class, he said he figured she was “out someplace having fun” and suggested that perhaps drug use was to blame.
“It hadn’t occurred to me that anything had happened to her,” Durst testified in August. “It was more like: What had Kathie done to Kathie?”
Durst was also sentenced in 2016 to over seven years in prison after pleading guilty to a federal weapons charge stemming from a 2015 arrest in New Orleans.