Robert Durst’s Widow Sued by Family of His First Wife for Wrongful Death

The lawsuit says Durst’s “wrongful, felonious” conduct caused the death of Kathleen McCormack Durst 40 years ago

robert durst

The family of Kathleen McCormack Durst, first wife of late real estate heir Robert Durst, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his widow Debrah Lee Charatan, according to court documents obtained by TheWrap. Charatan has applied to be the executor of Durst’s estate.

The lawsuit was filed on Jan. 31, exactly 40 years after McCormack disappeared in Salem County, New York, at age 29. The suit says Durst’s “wrongful, felonious” conduct caused McCormack’s death.

“Kathie’s family hopes that her story will, at the very least, shine a light on the extent to which rich and powerful people are able to manipulate and control the criminal justice system,” said Robert Abrams, an attorney for Kathie’s family. “Robert Durst died having never been held accountable for Kathie’s murder.”

On Nov. 1, Durst was indicted for Kathie’s murder by a grand jury in Westchester, New York. At the time, he was already serving a life sentence without parole for the 2000 murder of his friend Susan Berman, of which a Los Angeles jury found him guilty in September 2021. Berman was believed to be preparing to speak to investigators about Kathie’s 1982 disappearance when Durst shot her in her Beverly Hills home.

Durst died in a Stockton, California prison on Jan. 10 of cardiac arrest, after suffering from numerous health problems. While awaiting sentencing in September, he contracted COVID-19, exacerbating his existing medical conditions and was placed on a ventilator.

His case drew national attention when he was profiled in the 2015 HBO docuseries “The Jinx,” which centered on his involvement in three killings in three states. Near the end of the series, Durst was shown giving what appeared to be a confession to the murders. Not realizing his microphone was still on, he said, “Killed them all, of course.” His remarks led to the reopening of the Berman case and eventually to his conviction.

The court filings show that in October 2019, a court dismissed Bamonte v. Durst, the first attempt of Kathie’s estate to sue for wrongful death. However, the dismissal was “without prejudice to refiling in the event that a criminal action is commenced against Robert Durst pertaining to the death of Kathleen Durst.”

The November indictment opened the door for Kathie’s estate to file another suit. The plaintiffs are seeking economic, special, and punitive damages for an unspecified amount, along with compensation for legal fees.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.