Robert Durst, a real-estate heir of the Durst Organization, one of Manhattan’s largest commercial real estate firms, was sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole for the murder of his best friend, Susan Berman, more than two decades ago. He was convicted in Los Angeles Superior Courts in September of the first-degree murder for shooting Berman point-blank in the back of the head in December 2000.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a 78-year-old Robert Durst, now a convicted murderer, suspected serial killer, and real-estate heir, killed Berman in her home in December 2000 to prevent her from incriminating him in the reopened investigation of his wife’s disappearance in 1982. It’s worth noting that Berman provided a false alibi for Durst when Robert’s wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst, vanished. Durst previously testified that he didn’t kill either woman but said in cross-examination that he would lie if he did.
For those in need of more context, Robert Durst was investigated for capital crimes, including the disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen Kathie McCormack, along with the homicides of Susan Berman and Morris Black. Though he was acquitted of murder in the Black case, he was convinced of murdering Susan Berman.
Kathie McCormack was last seen on January 31, 1982, with many believing that Durst himself was responsible for her disappearance. Although he was questioned on multiple occasions by the NYPD, the police found his statements full of contradictions, but unfortunately insubstantial to build a case against him. Furthermore, Susan Berman provided Durst with a public alibi for his wife’s disappearance. However, McCormack’s death investigation was quietly reopened in 1999, and Susan Berman had some knowledge that could’ve incriminated Robert Durst.
Susan Berman was found shot in the back of the head in her home in Los Angeles after the neighbors called the police to report that her three dogs were loose. The subsequent investigation revealed that Berman received $50,000 from Durst in two payments. Durst confirmed to the LAPD that he sent Berman the money and faxed investigators a copy of her deposition regarding his missing wife. But, of course, he later declined further questioning.
What makes this case interesting is the fact that Robert Durst was informed about the quietly reopened investigation into his wife’s disappearance and went into hiding nearly two months before Berman’s death. Hiding in Galveston, Texas, and disguised as a mute woman to avoid any police inquiries, it’s entirely possible that he reappeared only to execute Berman because she knew too much about his wife’s disappearance.
Fast forward 15 years, and only a few days after the LA judge signed a first-degree murder warrant, Durst was arrested by the FBI. He was later transferred to the Los Angeles County Jail awaiting trial. Robert Durst was convicted for the first-degree murder of Susan Berman, facing the possibility of a life sentence, while also being found guilty of multiple special charges. Yesterday, on October 14, 2021, real-estate heir Robert Durst became a sentenced murderer, and given his purported connection to other cases and disappearances — and allegedly a possible serial killer — was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.