Robert Durst Testifies About Day His First Wife Went Missing in 1982

Real estate heir took the stand at his trial again on Wednesday

Robert Durst took the witness stand for the second day in his own murder trial on Wednesday and detailed the last day he saw his first wife Kathleen McCormack before she mysteriously disappeared.

Durst is on trial for the 2000 murder of his friend Susan Berman, although he is suspected of having killed McCormack and his former neighbor, Morris Black, previously. He was not charged with the disappearance of McCormack and acquitted in the death of the neighbor.

Taking the stand, Robert Durst explained that he and McCormack went to their house in South Salem for the weekend on Friday night, Jan. 29, 1982. McCormack was getting antsy, he said, and after Durst returned from a jog in the rain, she said her friend Gilberte Najamy asked them over for dinner. Durst said he didn’t like Najamy and refused to go, so McCormack went on her own.

Later that night, Durst said McCormack called to tell him she wanted to stay overnight. Durst protested because he was worried she would stay up all night “snorting cocaine” and would not make it to the vet’s appointment for their dog the next morning. McCormack came home and wanted to return to Manhattan, but Durst said she was in no state to drive. An argument ensued and after a shower, Durst said McCormack wanted to take the 9:15 p.m. train back to the city.

Robert Durst testified that the parking lot of the train station was empty and he was able to drive right up to the platform. McCormack boarded the train and “that’s the last time I saw Kathie,” Durst said. However, shortly after, Durst said, “Did I actually see Kathie walk through the doors and onto the train … and the answer is, I don’t know. But there is no place else to go.” Once the train pulled out, “there was nothing left,” he said. 

After she left, Durst said he called his friend Barry Weiner to rent a truck and take the boat to the dump and also asked him to get some snow shovels. Attorney Dick DeGuerin then recalled Durst’s testimony to a detective at the time, where Durst told the detective that he went to the mayor’s house for a drink that night and that he called McCormack from a payphone. Those facts were not true, he said in court. “It seemed like he wanted me to tell him I had done stuff after taking Kathie to the train. I told him what he wanted to hear …  I had told detective I had called Kathie that she was watching the news — I wanted to convince him that Kathie had gotten back to Riverside Drive.”

He then said he got back to the city Monday morning, Feb. 1, at 9:30 a.m. and “did not expect to find Kathie” in their apartment; he said he thought she’d be at the hospital or at school. By that evening, Durst said he still hadn’t heard from her but he didn’t worry because she’d often do overnight shifts as part of her schooling.

By Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 3, he still hadn’t heard from her and hadn’t attempted to contact her. However, that afternoon, he received a voicemail on his apartment phone from the medical school that said McCormack had not shown up to the school Monday or Tuesday.

“I was concerned and I was worried about it,” Durst testified. “I intended to go back to South Salem that night, so that’s what I did.”

It never “dawned on him” that something had happened to her — it was more like “what had Kathie done to Kathie,” he said, thinking about her alleged cocaine addiction. When he still hadn’t heard from her by Thursday, he became worried and wanted to report a missing person. When he called the police, the female officer at the 20th precinct asked him, “Have you checked with your wife’s boyfriend?” When he said that she didn’t have one, the female officer allegedly said, “Have you checked with all your wife’s boyfriends?”

Durst’s testimony on Monday began with a bang: Attorney DeGuerin immediately asked Durst: “Did you kill Susan Berman?” to which Durst said no, and that he didn’t know who did either. He then summarized his health conditions over the years, which include COPD, kidney problems and bladder cancer.

Robert Durst, the real estate heir and the subject of the HBO docuseries “The Jinx” that aired recorded audio of him seeming to confess to killings, has pleaded not guilty for the 2000 murder of Susan Berman. His trial first began on March 4 but was soon postponed to April 6 due to the pandemic. By late March, a spokesperson for the Superior Court of California said that the proceedings would be delayed once again to May 26. The date had been postponed for a third time to June 23, and then again to July.

Durst was arrested in March 2015 by FBI agents in New Orleans, one day before the finale of HBO’s “The Jinx,” which chronicled Durst’s life and the death of three people close to him — Berman, his first wife, Kathleen McCormack, and a neighbor in Galveston, Texas. Durst was previously acquitted of murder in Texas after he said he killed and dismembered his neighbor, Morris Black, in self-defense in September 2001.

You can watch his testimony here or above.


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