Robert Durst, the real estate heir who was convicted of murder last year, has died at age 78, Us Weekly can confirm.
The New York City native died on Monday, January 10, while serving a life sentence for the 2000 murder of his friend Susan Berman.
“Mr. Durst passed away early this morning while in the custody of the California Department of Corrections,” his lawyer, Chip Lewis, told Us in a statement. “We understand that his death was due to natural causes associated with the litany of medical issues we had repeatedly reported to the court over the last couple of years.”
Durst’s story became famous in 2015 when HBO released a six-part docuseries about him titled The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. He had long been associated with the disappearance of his ex-wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst, and the murder of Berman, but at the time he had not been charged with any crimes relating to their deaths. (He was acquitted of the murder of his neighbor Morris Black in 2003 but convicted of tampering with evidence related to the crime.)
During the finale of The Jinx, Durst seemingly confessed to one or more murders as a microphone caught him muttering, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
The day before the finale aired in March 2015, Durst was arrested on murder charges for the death of Berman. After various delays related to his health and the coronavirus pandemic, the trial began in earnest in May 2021. Four months later, a jury convicted him of first-degree murder, and in October 2021, he was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
That same month, the Westchester County District Attorney’s office charged Durst with the murder of Kathleen, who disappeared in 1982 and was declared legally dead in 2017.
During the Berman trial, Durst denied killing Kathleen, saying that he thought she was “out someplace having fun” when her medical school called to ask why she hadn’t been coming to class. “It hadn’t occurred to me that anything had happened to her,” he said in August 2021. “It was more like: What had Kathie done to Kathie?”
Shortly after his conviction for Berman’s murder, Durst was hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19 and placed on a ventilator. “He looked like death warmed over,” his former attorney Dick DeGuerin said in October 2021. “He was laying back in his wheelchair and was gasping for breath.”
Durst previously underwent surgery for esophageal cancer, and in May 2021, his lawyers said that he was battling bladder cancer. At the time, his legal team requested to postpone his trial, but a judge denied the motion.