The first wife of real estate scion Robert Durst has been officially declared dead, 35 years after she was last seen.
A judge with the Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan set Kathleen Durst’s date of death at January 31, 1987, exactly five years after she disappeared in 1982.
Although Durst has long been suspected in Kathleen’s death, he has never been criminally charged. The declaration of her death opens the door for Durst’s siblings to pursue a civil suit.
Allegations of Abuse
Kathleen Durst’s brother, Jim McCormack, speaks out in Saturday’s episode of Murder Made Me Famous on the Reelz Channel. In the episode, he talks about the relationship between his sister and Durst. (Durst and his lawyers declined to participate in the show.)
During the first year of their relationship, the Dursts lived in the woods in Vermont. “It started off with two people head over heels in love with each other,” Jim McCormack tells the show. “She was very naive to the prosperity that their relationship brought.”
But things turned darker when the newlyweds returned to New York. Kathleen – known as Kathie to her family – wanted children; Robert Durst did not. When she became pregnant, Durst forced her to get an abortion. “I would consider that Kathie turned a corner in her own life,” McCormack says. “Emotionally, mentally.”
As the marriage continued to deteriorate, Jim McCormack recalls a troubling event at a Christmas party in which he says Durst got physical with Kathie during an argument. Durst allegedly grabbed his wife by the hair and dragged her to out of the party. “Just as quickly as I’m telling this story, they were already to the door” says McCormack. “I didn’t react quickly. People ask why I didn’t beat him up. I go, ‘You don’t understand. It happened so suddenly.’ Who goes over to someone and pulls them by the hair to get them to leave?”
In 1982, Kathie vanished. The case has never been solved, but her family is convinced that Durst killed her. “There’s not a doubt in my mind he killed her,” says McCormack.
Whether or not Durst will ever face jail time in Kathie’s death, the 73-year-old will be fighting legal battles for years to come. He faces murder charges in Los Angeles in the 2000 death of his longtime friend and spokeswoman, Susan Berman. He was also sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty in February to a single gun charge in federal court in New Orleans. He’s to be extradited to California before September, according to officials.
Durst is the subject of the latest episode of Murder Made Me Famous. The docuseries combines reenactments, exclusive interviews and never-before-seen photos and video to tell the story of infamous murderers. Now in its third season, Murder Made Me Famous is hosted by PEOPLE Senior Writer Steve Helling.
Durst’s episode airs Saturday (8 p.m. ET) on the Reelz Channel.