33 Chilling Facts You Didn’t Know About Robert Durst Until Now

ABC News / Youtube.com.
ABC News / Youtube.com.

1. Bobby (the name Robert Durst most commonly went by) was apparently “a fitness nut,…[starting] each day with a regimen of push-ups, sit-ups and lunges that would have worn out a U.S. Marine.”

2. Apparently Kathie had agreed to a prenuptial agreement with Durst that “would have given her a pitifully small amount of money if the marriage broke up.”

3. Jim, Kathie’s brother, recalls a particularly chilling event that was entirely overlooked by the police investigating the case during the time of Kathie’s disappearance: “It was Christmas, 1980…We were all out at Hyde Park at mom’s house for Christmas dinner. It was evening and we were all sitting around, enjoying a few drinks after the meal. Kathie was sitting at one end of the couch near the fireplace and I was at the other end. Bobby was restless. He kept saying to Kathie that they should get going. But Kathie didn’t move. She was enjoying being with all her family and was in no hurry to leave. Bobby went outside, to warm up the car, but knowing him, no doubt he smoked a joint too. When he came back in, he was carrying her coat which had been thrown on the stairs like the others, and barked at her ‘Let’s go.’ Kathie said, ‘Aw, come on, Bobby, can’t we stay for a little longer?’ He just lost it. He lunged at her, pulled her up off the couch by her hair, dragged her across the room and they were gone.”

4. According to Ruth Mayer, a friend of Kathie’s, Kathie told her “that fall that [Bobby] was having an affair with Prudence Farrow, and she was upset about it…she told me that Prudence would call her up and tell her, ‘Give him up. It’s over, let Bobby go.'” Apparently “Bobby had been rapt by Prudence’s tales of meditating with the Beatles. And he was thrilled to be dating the woman who had been the inspiration for his idol John Lennon’s song ‘Dear Prudence.’ He’d told Kathie all about it.”

5. Apparently Kathie and Bobby had spoken about a divorce, but “Bobby’s argument was, ‘Everything is mine, you have nothing,’ and she’d hired an attorney at the prestigious law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & Mc-Cloy to help her hammer out a settlement. When negations went nowhere — Bobby refused to part with even a fraction of his millions — the attorney had told her to document everything, especially any incidents of abuse.”

6. Leading up to her disappearance, Kathie had also reportedly begun to “[collect] information about the Durst Organization’s financial dealings,” in particular “pilfered bank statements and tax returns from Bobby’s desk…She’d given the documents to [fellow med student] Gilberte [Najamy] and [friend] Kathy Traystman to keep them out of Bobby’s clutches. Both women confirmed this to Becerra, then told him that within a year of her disappearance, their homes were robbed and the papers were amongst the missing items.”

7. Allegedly, “When Bobby wouldn’t budge from his arbitrary and miserly sum of $100,000 as a divorce settlement, [he] cut off her credit cards and refused to pay her last tuition bills forcing her to borrow money from friends.” After this, she decided to “put the confidential [financial] documents in an envelope and mailed them to a U.S. senator. It never occurred to her that the politician, who had taken large financial contributions from the powerful and influential Seymour Durst, would make sure they found their way back into her father-in-law’s hands. Enraged, Seymour had reportedly told Bobby to ‘take care of his wife.’ Did Bobby think this meant silence her forever?”

8. According to Eleanor Schwank, a classmate of Kathie’s, Before Kathie’s disappeared, “she had told me that Bobby was taking Primal Scream Therapy, and he growled. I never heard him do it, but Kathie would say to me when she was on the phone, ‘He’s doing it now, can you hear him? He’s growling now.’”

9. The Thursday before she went missing, Kathie had apparently “initiated divorce proceedings.”

10. Gilberte Najamy and Eleanor Schwank both went to Kathie and Bobby’s South Salem house after Kathie’s disappearance to see if they could find any evidence that Bobby had killed her. According to reports, “In the kitchen, [they found] her unopened mail had ben dumped in the trash. She went into the dining room and opened the closet. Inside was an ominous stack of black plastic bags which she later said so freaked her out that she ran out the door. Outside the house, she lifted the lid of a garbage can and saw a dozen or so of Kathie’s expensive medical textbooks.”

11. The same morning that Gilberte and Eleanor went snooping through the South Salem house, Bobby had apparently “casually strode into the 20th precinct on Manhattan’s West 82nd Street and reported his wife missing.” To the precinct, Bobby carried with him a two-year-old issue of Time magazine, whose cover read: “The Five Most Powerful Men in New York,” with a picture of Seymour Durst. Marion Collins writes, “The message was given and received.”

12. According to the couple who bought Durst’s South Salem house from him in 1990, “The place was a wreck when they moved in. They could hardly believe it had belonged to a millionaire. There were holes in the living room floor, and Durst had been sleeping on a mattress in the unfinished downstairs bedroom, next to a trap-door entrance to the crawl space underneath the house.”

13. Any theory that Durst buried Kathie or threw her in the lake can be ruled out because, according to Ruth Mayer, Durst and Kathie’s South Salem neighbors at the time of Kathie’s disappearance, the lake “was frozen over when Kathie disappeared; there were twelve inches of ice on it that winter. You could never have put a body in there, or buried it on frozen ground.”

14. After Kathie’s disappearance, Bobby’s contradictory theories for what could have happened to her started to pour in: “He began to accuse his wife of using cocaine and had his lawyer hand over to investigators some coke he claimed he had found in their apartment. His new story went along the lines that she had become unhappy with her life and probably just ran away. ‘I think Kathie’s alive,’ he said. ‘At first he told us that they had had a good marriage. Then he told me she had difficulty with alcohol, drug issues and relationships outside the marriage,’ said Detective Struk.” Bobby went on to claim “that Kathie hung out with drug dealers, and one of them must have abducted her. Next he maintained that she dressed too flashily. He’d warned her about it, he told Marsha Kranes of the New York Post. ‘I used to tell her she dressed too nicely,’ he said. ‘I told her she attracted too much attention. If someone was looking for someone who looked wealthy, it would be her. She wore the diamond earrings everywhere, even to the hospital in the Bronx—not the safest place in the whole world,’ he said. Yet from all other accounts, Kathie was never a flashy dresser, and on the night she disappeared she was wearing jeans and a down coat.”

15. Mary, Kathie’s sister, apparently found a gaping hole in one of Bobby’s stories: “‘My sister customarily wore a pair of diamond earrings, a watch, a wedding band and two gold chains. When she disappeared, her husband told the police, she had been wearing this jewelry. In March of 1982, I was looking through my sister’s possessions, at her husband’s request, and I found all the jewelry in a suede container in her drawer.’ Mary also charged that Bobby had refused to take a lie detector test.”

16. In Without A Trace, Marion Collins writes that after Kathie’s disappearance, “The super and other people at the East 86th Street Durst-owned building where Kathie had her bolt hole, confirmed that Bobby had jammed the trash chute with items from her apartment that he was throwing out.”

17. According to his brother Douglas’ account in the New York Times, it had always been “hard to discern any rationale for Robert’s behavior or fabrications. As a child, he pretended to be in the school band, even bringing home a tuba, but simply hid it among trees when he was not going to school.” Robert also “claimed to have two doctoral degrees, but did not.” In Without a Trace by Marion Collins, One of Kathie’s friends quotes an excerpt from Kathie’s “private letters”: “From the time of our marriage … Bob told me that he had a doctorate degree in economics from U.C.L.A., Berkeley. While traveling across the country three months after coming back to New York City he said he really didn’t have a degree, but not to tell anyone, especially his family.”

18. Bobby had known Debrah Lee Charatan, “daughter of a Brooklyn butcher,” long before their 2001 marriage. Debrah also worked in real estate, and apparently in a New York Times piece, broker Adam Werpin, one of her former employees and current “president of Weprin Realty” said, “‘She’s as tough as nails. You have to be in the real estate business.’ But Debrah Lee’s toughness didn’t inspire the admiration of all her workers. She was sent a bunch of dead roses at an office party, and once got a dead fish in her mail.” Broker Adelaide Pulsinelli, another one of her former employees, remembers, “‘I worked for Debrah Lee Charatan for over thirteen years when she had the women-only company…It was brutal, a concentration camp—I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. She chose naïve people who had no business experience because she knew she could get away with things with them. It was like a brothel. All I can say is that this woman is one of the only people I’ve met in my life who has no conscience and no soul. She stiffed people out of commissions. That’s why a lot of people left, and several took out lawsuits.’”

19. Apparently In 1994, after Seymour Durst announced that it would be Douglas Durst — and not Bobby — who will take over as President and CEO when he dies, “Bobby plotted a bizarre revenge. He would have a child with Debrah Lee, not because he was madly in love with her or because her biological clock was ticking or because he wanted to become a father: he devised the plan to spite his family and hit them where it hurt the most—their wallets. The two had allegedly schemed to use a baby as a way of extracting more money from the Dursts. Forty years before, his father had set up a trust fund for Bobby which paid him an allowance of $3 million a year. But the trust would die along with him—unless he had a child. In that case, the family would be forced to keep paying out the $3 million for the duration of that child’s life. The couple drew up legal papers, but they couldn’t agree about who would control the fund, claimed the Post. Bobby wanted his child to have at least 51% of its fortune, Debrah Lee demanded that she would have sole say-so. Then he thought up an alternative way to annoy his family—he’ d adopt Debrah Lee. Both schemes were eventually abandoned.”

20. In May 1995, when Seymour Durst died, Bobby was “a no-show at his father’s funeral.”

21. Kim Lankford, who was allegedly dating Bobby when he married Debrah Lee Charatan, was friends with Susan Berman. Before her death, Susan told Kim “something that sends chills up Kim’s spine every time she recalls the conversation”: “’I’ve been talking to this psychic,’ she said, ‘She told me I was going to die a violent death and that there’d be a gun involved.’”

22. According to Newsweek, “About a month after the case of the disappearance of Robert Durst’s first wife, Kathleen McCormack, was reopened, he proposed to Debrah Lee Charatan, who became his second wife.” Collins writes, “Bobby and Debrah Lee took their vows on January 11, 2001—less than three weeks after Susan’s death, and seven weeks after Bobby learned that Jeanine Pirro had reopened the case of his missing wife.”

23. After Susan’s death, Kim and Bobby returned to Los Angeles. On their trip, they reportedly “talked about Debrah Lee, whom Kim had met several times; although she knew that Bobby had some sort of relationship with the New York realtor, it hadn’t stopped their romance, which had blossomed since Susan had played matchmaker the previous year. Maybe it was Bobby’s idea of an April Fool’s joke, but when Kim asked, ‘How is Debrah?’ Bobby replied, ‘She’s fine.’ He didn’t bother to add that they had married several months before.” When Kim eventually found out, the marriage “came as a shock” to her, especially because Susan had apparently “loathed” Debrah and “the feeling was mutual.”

24. A source who apparently “worked for the pair and had access to Durst’s home” around the time of his marriage to Debrah, called Durst’s marriage to Charatan “more of a business partnership.” This same source alleged that “Durst gave him Viagra while they worked together, and said Durst referred to it as a recreational or ‘party’ drug.”

25. Some speculated about whether the marriage to Debrah was even viable. Wasn’t Bobby still technically married to Kathie? Turns out, Bobby, without the permission of Kathie’s family, “had quietly divorced her years before.”

26. After marrying Debrah Lee, Bobby and her apparently moved into an apartment on 923 Fifth Avenue. But soon after, “Bob felt stifled by the arrangement and moved out nine months later. They never lived together again.”

27. In September of 2001, 13-year-old James Rutherford, while fishing with his dad, found the remains of Morris Black floating in the Texas City Ship Channel. Detective Cazalas was on the case. Maria De Hernandez, one of the tenants living in the apartment complex where Bobby had rented an apartment (and where Morris Black had lived), told Cazalas that “On Sunday night…she’d seen Durst loading black plastic trash bags into a silver station wagon.”

28. They eventually tracked down Bobby and found incriminating evidence in his car. Collins writes, “A detective traveled from Galveston to New Orleans with the dry-cleaning receipt Officer Jones had found in Bobby’s silver Honda CRV. The store owner handed over a comforter. He remembered it, he told the cop, because it had been splattered with blood. The suspect had driven 370 miles to have the stains removed.”

29. After two “detectives from the Galveston Fugitive Squad” got a hold of Bobby, they took him to his trial in Houston via plane. According to a New York Post reporter who was on the same flight, “Throughout the three-hour flight to Houston, he muttered and hummed quietly to himself and stared bleakly out the window. He ignored most of his free airline lunch of a beef sandwich, a bag of Fritos and a chocolate cookie, settling for an apple and sipping a Coke. One of the detectives removed his plastic knife, and Bobby peeled the apple with his fingers.”

30. Susan Criss, the Texas Judge who oversaw the 2003 murder trial in which Durst was accused of murdering his neighbor Morris Black, said she thinks Durst “left the head of a cat on the doorstep of her home nine years ago, for retribution for testifying against him.” She recalled, “It was June 29, 2006 – I came home from work about 5 p.m., and you can imagine how hot it was – I saw something on the walk that leads straight to my front door…a little gray cat that had been cut behind the shoulder…a head with its two front legs.”

31. If Durst had not been arrested after the airing of The Jinx, he would have most definitely escaped to Cuba. According to Curbed, “Additional information regarding what was in his hotel room at the time of his arrest include maps of Cuba, New Orleans, and Florida.”

32. Further details regarding the mask found in Durst’s hotel room before his 2015 arrest: “It was certainly not something you’d find at the Halloween Store or atop a float headed down Canal St – the mask appeared to look like natural skin covering his face and neck and included greying hair on top.”

33. An LA Times commenter’s theory about Durst’s creepy eye twitches throughout The Jinx: that he was wearing “Japanese doe eye contact lenses,” which are designed to “make you look like a baby deer, or innocent. The whites of the eyes are reduced. In this case it made the person under interview blink frequently.” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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