Robert Durst is, at the time of this writing, a 72 year old man. An age most people ideally associate with contentment, rest and a chance for introspection that the slower pace of life in old age usually brings.
Certainly not with being considered to have committed four murders (his first wife, his good friend who provided his alibi for when his wife disappeared, his neighbor and an 18 year old college student), being arrested earlier this year and facing trial for one of them (his good friend), as well as possibly the death penalty.
Who is Robert Durst you ask?
He is the younger brother of Douglas Durst, a very successful commercial developer, who is himself the son of the New York City mogul Seymour Durst. The Durst family as a whole is worth, according to Forbes.com in 2015, around 5.2 billion $ and holds the 59th place in the “America’s Richest Families” annual list, all thanks to its real estate assets.
However, Robert Durst today should perhaps not be analyzed as part of the family, because reportedly it has cut him off completely due to his infamous behavior and there appears to have been a major rift and estrangement that took place as early as the 1990s when his brother Douglas was chosen to continue their father’s business instead of Robert.
But the fact that he was born in one of the richest families in the US and that he has a lot of money himself is relevant in the greater scheme of things because it might be one of the reasons why, until his arrest this year, Robert Durst has managed to elude significant punishment by authorities despite being suspected of murder for decades.
Though the Robert Durst trial to come following his arrest in 2015 is getting attention in the media, it is not the first trial involving him. In 2003 he went on trial for murdering his neighbor Morris Black, receiving a sentence of just 5 years in 2004. Of which, due to time served, he was required to serve only three. However, of these three, he got paroled after 1 year, in 2005.
I say a sentence of “just” five years because Robert Durst admitted during the trial that after the gun that they were allegedly struggling over went off, he had used an axe, a paring knife and two saws in order to carry out the dismemberment of his neighbor’s body, ultimately putting him in bags and dumping them in Galveston Bay.
Conveniently enough, Black’s head was never found, resulting in the prosecution not having enough evidence and his lawyers also made the case that Durst suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, which explains his lack of emotion and behavior in the matter.
Whether this justifies him walking away with the above mentioned punishment is up to you.
What is clear is that the (alleged) Robert Durst murders have garnered sufficient interest from both the authorities and public opinion that the man is now an emblem for the debate on the functioning of justice in the USA, especially regarding the wealthy.
His notoriety has even prompted the making of a documentary directed and written by Andrew Jarecki called “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst”, but more commonly mentioned as The Jinx. And there’s even a Robert Durst movie called “All Good Things” (2010), starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst and also directed by Andrew Jarecki.
So, with all the hype on, here’s some more info in the form of 6 Robert Durst disturbing moments which paint a very suspicious image, to say the least, of a currently free individual.
1. The Robert Durst mother suicide story
One of the contested pieces of information that appears in relation to Robert Durst in The Jinx is his claim that, at the age of seven, he witnessed his mother’s suicide as she jumped to her death off the family house in Scarsdale. But his older brother Douglas insists that Robert did not witness the event, having declared so in 2015.
To be sure, his mother did die and whether it was an accident or a suicide has not been determined, but his older brother claims neither of the children were around to see and that Robert just embellished the story of his own mother’s death in order to elicit an emotional reaction of sympathy from the viewers.
Or … not. Because again, the information available is conflicting. His older brother Douglas claims that Robert Durst owned 7 Alaskan Malamutes that one by one died in suspicious circumstances and that they were all named Igor. He even went so far as to say that Robert was probably practicing the murder and disposal of his wife Kathie Durst (born Kathleen McCormack) prior to actually doing the deed.
Robert Durst on the other hand says that his brother is exaggerating. That he only owned 3 Alaskan Malamutes named Igor. The first died run over by a car, the second during a surgical procedure to remove some apple cores that he had ingested. And that the third one lasted a long time without any problems.
Also, he created several fake companies with dog references in their names, even to Igor, like “Igor-Fayette Inc”, or “Woofing LLC” and “WoofWoof LLC”.
Robert Durst is apparently fond of urinating in peculiar places. Like the above mentioned “Woofing LLC” mailbox at the Houston UPS store.
Or the wastebaskets at the Durst company headquarters, which was probably just one of the reasons why he was not chosen as successor to his father.
But most importantly (and disturbingly) he is also pending trial for pissing onto a CVS pharmacy’s checkout counter and candy display in 2014.
4. Props for innocence
During the filming for The Jinx documentary he blinks after giving answers to questions that would incriminate him. While some have speculated that it is an involuntary sign of lying, another theory posits that he wore a Japanes form of contact lenses referred to as “doe-eyed” because they are designed to make users eyes look big and innocent like a doe’s.
A simple observation of photos available of Robert Durst does show his eye shape being markedly different depending on when the photograph was taken, which lends credibility to this theory.
5. Could-shouldered by family
Would be a euphemistic description when applied to Robert Durst, because at some point in time 13 family members sought out restraining and protection orders against him, because they claimed they were afraid of him. The judges agreed and granted said orders.
A small hint might also be the fact that when he jumped bail in 2001 while under investigation for the murder of his neighbor Morris Black (yes, he did that), while on the run from police, he stalked his brother at the latter’s house in Katonah, NY.
The fact that he had two guns, Black’s driver licence and directions to his missing wife’s close friend and confidante Gilberte Najamy’s house, which just happened to have been pestering him with accusations that he was a murderer for years, didn’t exactly help either.
6. Why the hell not?
Amid the other bizarre things Robert Durst has done is adopting the persona of a mute woman while in Texas, under media pressure for the disappearance of his wife.
Then there’s also the many aliases that he made up for himself, fake papers included, the latest of which being Everette Ward, under which he had registered at the Canal Street Mariott in New Orleans.
And when he was arrested in 2001 at a Wegmans supermarket, for jumping bail, the reason police were called in the first place was because Robert Durst had tried to shoplift a chicken salad sandwich, a newspaper and bandaids, the latter of which he had opened, taken one from the box and placed under his nose which attracted the attention of employees.
Fun fact? He had 500$ cash on him, so it’s pretty inexplicable why he would risk drawing attention, while on the run.
But hey, why the hell not?