The Real Deal New York

Kathleen Durst’s family asks court to declare her death 34 years after disappearance

Ruling needed for $100M suit against Robert Durst to proceed
July 15, 2016 10:41AM

Kathleen Durst's missing person flyer

Kathleen Durst’s missing person flyer

More than 34 years after Kathleen Durst’s body disappeared, her family is asking a Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan to declare her dead. More specifically, the family wants the court to rule that she died on Jan. 31, 1982 when she was allegedly murdered by her husband Robert Durst.

For decades, Kathleen Durst has been considered an “absentee” since her body was never recovered after she went missing. In order for her family’s $100 million lawsuit against the Durst family scion to proceed, however, Kathleen Durst must be declared dead.

“Given the totality of the circumstances and what’s come to light over the past 35 years, what possible explanation can there be, other than that Robert Durst killed her?” the family’s attorney, Robert Abrams, told the New York Times.

Robert Durst’s attorneys denied allegations that their client murdered his wife, alleging her family was making an “ill-motivated and legally flawed” request based on “The Jinx,” the six-part docudrama that aired on HBO last year in which he seems to confess to her murder.

There’s been virtually no indication that Kathleen Durst is alive: In 1999, a court-appointed guardian said, “There is no evidence that Kathleen may be alive.”

At that time, however, Robert Durst would not sign a document declaring her dead.

The estranged member of the Durst family, 73 and frail, is currently in jail in New Orleans on gun charges. He has been charged in California with the 2000 killing of his onetime companion Susan Berman, who investigators believe knew details about what happen between Kathleen and Robert Durst in 1982.
In 2003, he was acquitted of dismembering and murdering his neighbor in Texas. [NYT]E.B. Solomont