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Relatives of deceased wife seek part of Robert Durst fortune

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Relatives of deceased wife seek part of Robert Durst fortune

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LOS ANGELES — A quest for the fortune left behind by multi-millionaire murderer Robert Durst is underway just days after his death.

A lawyer for the family of his first wife, who disappeared and was declared legally dead, told the real estate magnate’s trust that they would seek more than $100 million from Durst’s estate and widow.

Attorney Robert Abrams said he will soon file a new wrongful death lawsuit against the estate and renew legal actions against other people he says helped cover up Kathie’s murder McCormack Durst four decades ago.

Durst, 78, died in a California hospital on Monday while serving a life sentence for shooting his best friend, Susan Berman, in the back of the head at her Los Angeles home in 2000 He was facing second-degree murder charges in New York for the alleged murder of his wife.

A Los Angeles County jury convicted Durst of first-degree murder in September on the theory that he silenced Berman when she planned to tell authorities she had provided a false alibi to help her get away with it. get away with killing Kathie Durst in New York in 1982.

Abrams sent a letter Tuesday to an attorney who is a co-trustee warning not to distribute trust money or destroy documents.

He chose Durst’s second wife, Debrah Charatan, who he said would be the sole or primary beneficiary of a trust worth tens of millions of dollars.

Echoing allegations made by Abrams in a 2017 lawsuit that is still on appeal, he said Charatan quietly married Durst in 2000 to help him evade authorities after the reopening of the investigation into Kathie Durst’s disappearance. .

“We’re not going to let Debrah Charatan dissolve the trust and get tens of millions of dollars more,” Abrams said. “You don’t get tens of millions of dollars in America to cover up a murder.”

Charatan was never charged with a crime in the case and her lawyers said in court documents in 2019 that she bears no responsibility for Kathie Durst’s disappearance, which happened six years before she met Robert Durst. .

Attorney Scott Epstein said the lawsuit was based on a rumor “more appropriate for a work of fiction”.

“The plaintiffs’ claims are at best an example of the most extreme form of speculation and at worst nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to publicly embarrass and extort money from Ms Charatan, an innocent party , which is perceived by plaintiffs as a deep pocket,” Epstein wrote.

Epstein did not immediately respond to a message left at his office on Friday seeking comment. A woman who answered a phone listed as Charatan hung up when an Associated Press reporter called for comment.

Attorney Gary Freidman, the co-administrator to whom Abrams addressed his three-page letter, declined to comment.

Durst’s deadly transition from a wealthy and easy life to a series of bizarre failed escapes from the law became tabloid fodder and the subject of a six-part feature film and documentary.

He has long been estranged from his family, which controls one of New York’s largest commercial real estate companies, owns several New York skyscrapers and runs One World Trade Center.

After an acrimonious legal dispute, he was bought out from The Durst Organization and its family trust in 2006 for tens of millions of dollars, testified by his brother, Douglas Durst, who runs the business. Prosecutors estimated that Robert Durst was worth around $100 million.

The McCormack family’s previous wrongful death lawsuit against Durst was dismissed because the deadline to file it expired.

They can restart the trial under New York law because Durst was charged last year with murder in this case, Abrams said.

Robert Durst was the last person to see Kathie Durst alive on January 31, 1982. Her body was never found and she was eventually declared legally dead in 2017.

During his trial in Los Angeles, Durst testified that he did not kill his wife and did not know what happened to her. He also denied killing Berman, although he said if he had killed either woman he would be lying about it.

Abrams’ letter to the trust was akin to a restraining order, essentially saying “we don’t want you to pay anything until we get to the bottom of it,” said Matt Hunter, an attorney. New York real estate.

“Wife #1’s estate is trying to build on whatever Wife #2 is entitled to through Robert’s estate or Robert’s trust,” said Hunter, who has no role in the case.

Durst married Charatan in December 2000 while in hiding from New York authorities who had reopened the investigation into the disappearance of his first wife. Berman, who had told friends in late 2000 that she planned to speak to investigators, was killed about two weeks later.

Durst eventually returned to a low-rent apartment in Galveston, Texas, where he had locked himself in disguise as a woman unable to speak. In September 2001 he killed his elderly neighbor Morris Black, cut up his body and threw it into the sea.

He was acquitted after testifying that Black, whom he had befriended, pointed a gun at him and she accidentally fired during a gun fight. He was convicted of tampering with evidence to dispose of the body.

Abrams is planning a press conference on the 40th anniversary of Kathie Durst’s disappearance later this month to reveal more information he has uncovered about her death.

He said he would take legal action against others, including family members Charatan and Durst who he says also helped hide what they knew about Kathie Durst’s murder.

A spokesperson for The Durst Organization said Abrams has a reputation for making unsubstantiated claims, naming the company or Douglas Durst more than 30 times in court filings over the past two years.

“Mr. Abrams has a long history of leveling hollow and baseless attacks without ever providing a single shred of documentation to back up his savage claims,” Jordan Barowitz said. rejected by the courts.”

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Associated Press reporter Michael R. Sisak in New York contributed to this report.

Relatives of deceased wife seek part of Robert Durst fortune

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