For some background, Durst hails from New York real estate royalty: he is the son of late real estate mogul Seymour Durst, and brother of commercial developer Douglas Durst. (Though the two became estranged some time in the 1990’s, after Douglas was appointed to run the family business).
The real estate scion married medical student Kathleen McCormack in 1973, and she disappeared in 1982 after being last seen at a South Salem cottage the two shared. While her case remains unsolved, she was legally declared dead in 2001 in a civil action. At the time of her death, all her assets were put into an escrow account pending the outcome of a criminal investigation into her murder.
Now Durst wants a portion of the money from McCormack’s estate, which is valued at $82,000.
In order to do so he must first show that the cold case is closed, and is currently trying to subpoena investigators involved with the criminal probe from the District Attorney’s Office to review internal documents pertaining to the case.
But the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office isn’t having it.
“It’s an open homicide investigation, an unsolved homicide investigation. It’s confidential,” said Westchester DA spokesman Lucian Chalfen. “It’s not public record.”
According to court documents Durst’s lawyer, Robert Damast, claims that his client has the right to withdraw the funds considering the case has been cold for three years.
But not so, says Chalfen: “It’s an unsolved homicide, so the investigation remains open.”
While a judge ruled against Durst’s request last year, an appeal was filed that has not yet been decided.
“I’m sure Bobby is the reason for her murder, so any attempt by Bobby to get money from her is, in my opinion, ridiculous,” said Kathleen’s best friend Gilbere Najamy. “For a man like Bobby Durst, what is $82,000? It’s just sad.”
In addition to his wife’s disappearance, Durst has been connected to a series of murder investigations as well as oddball personal behaviors. In 2000, he was questioned about the murder of California journalist Susan Berman, who was set to meet with investigators about the disappearance of Kathleen McCormack, her close friend.
Then in 2001, he was sentenced to serve three years in a Texas prison for killing his neighbor Morris Black. He later confessed to authorities that he shot Black accidentally and dismembered him in a panic, and was eventually acquitted on the murder charge.
While Kathleen’s body was never found, it was revealed after the murder that she had been seeking a divorce from her husband right before she went missing.
A documentary by filmmaker Marc Smerling on Durst is set to begin production in the spring.