NEW YORK - R3obert Durst, the wealthy real estate heir convicted of murdering a friend and suspected in other deaths, has died at the age of 78.
Durst was sentenced to life in prison in October for the killing of Susan Berman.
Kathie Durst's 1982 disappearance garnered renewed public interest after HBO aired a documentary in 2015 in which the eccentric heir appeared to admit killing people, stepping off camera and muttering to himself on a live microphone: "Killed them all, of course."
The grand jury that indicted Durst kept meeting and hearing witnesses even after State Police Investigator Joseph Becerra filed a criminal complaint in a town court in Lewisboro, New York, on Oct. 19 charging Durst with second-degree murder.
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. At the request of her family, she was declared legally dead in 2017.
Durst died in a state prison hospital facility in Stockton, his attorney Chip Lewis said.
He had been on a ventilator after testing positive for COVID-19 last year.
Westchester County District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah says her office has reached out to Kathleen Durst’s family to inform them of Mr. Durst’s death.
"After 40 years spent seeking justice for her death, I know how upsetting this news must be for Kathleen Durst’s family," Rocah said. "We had hoped to allow them the opportunity to see Mr. Durst finally face charges for Kathleen’s murder because we know that all families never stop wanting closure, justice and accountability."
Robert Durst's family owns more than 16 million square feet of real estate in New York and Philadelphia, including a 10% stake in One World Trade Center, the Manhattan skyscraper formerly known as the Freedom Tower. Family members bought out Robert Durst's stake in the business for $65 million in 2006.
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 night she disappeared because he was "hoping that would just make everything go away."
Durst, who has numerous medical issues, sat in a wheelchair for much of the California trial and sentencing hearing. He read his lawyer's questions from a tablet giving live transcriptions because he struggles with hearing.
Durst, testifying in the Los Angeles trial in August, 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.
With the Associated Press.
This is a developing story and will be updated.