The wife of real estate heir Robert Durst was high on cocaine and raring to confront her abusive husband the night she vanished 20 years ago, a new book charges. In “A Deadly Secret,” author Matt Birkbeck says a friend urged Kathie Durst to tell her husband that if he didn’t give her a fair divorce settlement, she would turn him in for embezzling from his family’s company. The book suggests that Kathie Durst, after ingesting 2 grams of cocaine and two bottles of wine at a party, arrived at their Westchester County home Jan. 31, 1982, to find a violence-prone spouse who was more mentally disturbed than anyone knew. The 29-year-old medical school student has not been found. Durst reported his wife missing Feb. 5, 1982, telling police he’d last seen her boarding a train bound for Manhattan, where the couple kept an apartment on Riverside Drive. Durst, 59, the son of the late real-estate magnate Seymour Durst, has not been charged in his wife’s disappearance. He was arrested in Galveston, Tex., in October 2001 and accused of dismembering a neighbor. Durst is in jail awaiting a trial, scheduled for February. Incriminating material Birkbeck, a Poconos Record reporter who has covered the case for People magazine, writes that Kathie Durst had collected records that suggested her husband was stealing from the Durst Organization. She also had a letter dated 1953, later given to a friend who Birkbeck says showed it to him, in which a doctor warns that the young Durst was so mad at his father and younger brother that he might suffer “personality decomposition” and “possibly even schizophrenia.

” After Kathie Durst vanished, her friend Gilberte Najamy shielded her drug use from cops, the book states. Najamy, who held the party the woman attended the night she disappeared, was the one who encouraged her to confront Durst, the book charges. According to the book, Najamy and another friend, Ellen Strauss, put together a time line in early 1982 of Kathie Durst’s activities before her disappearance. Strauss’ handwritten notes, which she saved and showed to Birkbeck, state that she consumed wine and the drugs, according the book. Doorman changes story Birkbeck suggests that if Najamy had told cops about the coke, they might have focused their search sooner on the Durst cottage in South Salem. As it turned out, investigators looked first in Manhattan. They had good reason. A doorman told investigators he’d seen Kathie Durst arrive at the Riverside Drive penthouse the night she disappeared. Years later, the doorman said he wasn’t sure it was her. Najamy, 50, a Connecticut domestic abuse counselor, has crusaded to find her friend and has publicly accused Durst of killing her. Najamy stopped speaking to the press in February after her history of drug convictions during the 1990s surfaced. She could not be reached for comment yesterday. “A Deadly Secret,” published by a division of Penguin Putnam, is scheduled for release Sept. 3.

(NY Daily News)


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