The scion of one of New York’s most powerful real estate families, long suspected of involvement in the mysterious disappearance of his wife, has been charged with a gruesome murder in Texas.
Robert Durst , whose family’s fortune exceeds $1 billion, was arrested in the port city of Galveston on Oct. 10. Allegations involve the death of 71-year-old Morris Black Morris Black , who had lived next door to Durst. Black was found dismembered, beheaded and floating in Galveston Bay.
Durst, who is estranged from his family which owns eleven prominent skyscrapers–including buildings that house the headquarters of Pfizer andAOL Time Warner unit Time–has been suspected of murder before. In 1982, his young wife, Kathleen Durst Kathleen Durst , disappeared mysteriously.
Durst, 58, was never formally charged, but Kathleen Durst’s family accused him of involvement in her disappearance and investigations continue to this day.
Law enforcement officials in New York and California have also looked into a possible connection to the slaying of Susan Berman Susan Berman , a crime writer and longtime friend of Durst’s who was shot to death in Los Angeles last year.
It was not immediately clear when Black, the Galveston neighbor, disappeared. A fisherman found Black’s torso on Sept. 30. But his head is still missing.
Police offered no motive for the slaying. “To me, they look like total strangers. It’s part of our puzzle here,” prosecutor Kurt Sistrunk Kurt Sistrunk told the Associated Press. “What in the world led this man to be dismembered?”
Durst’s lawyer insisted his client was innocent and Durst was released on bond.
Durst, the son of Seymour Durst Seymour Durst , has long been a suspect in the unsolved disappearance of his wife Kathleen. She was last seen on Jan. 31, 1982, at the Durst family’s lakeside cottage in the Westchester County town of South Salem.
Robert Durst said he took his wife, then a 29-year-old medical student, to a train station one night and spoke to her by telephone later. But he did not report her missing until Feb. 5, after she failed to attend any of her classes that week. Last year, the Westchester County, N.Y., district attorney’s office reopened the investigation. Durst has denied involvement in that case, too.
Authorities have also sought to question Durst about the death last December of Susan Berman, author of Easy Street, a book about her childhood experiences growing up with father David Berman David Berman , an associate of Las Vegas mobsters Bugsy Siegel Bugsy Siegel and Meyer LanskyMeyer Lansky . Susan Berman and Durst were friends in 1982 and since then. At the time of her death, prosecutors were hoping to ask her about the vanishing of Kathleen Durst.
Berman, 55, was found dead in her home in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve 2000, a single gunshot wound to her head.