Kathie Durst disappeared forever in 1982 — and now that her husband Robert Durst is dead at 78, we may never know what happened to her.
Robert, who openly admitted to killing and dismembering an elderly neighbor in 2003, was long suspected of being involved in his wife’s disappearance. (He was acquitted for the neighbor’s murder but later convicted on charges of evidence tampering related to the dismemberment.)
At the time of his death on Monday, Robert had been charged with Kathie’s murder and was awaiting trial in California. Though his passing means he’ll never be convicted of killing her, Kathie’s family said that their search for the truth of what happened carries on.
What Happened to Kathie Durst?
Kathie Durst, born Kathir McCormack, was working as a dental hygienist when she met Robert in 1971. By the following year, they were living together, and in 1973, the pair were married and living in New York City.
The last time Kathie was seen alive by anyone other than her husband was at a party on January 31, 1982. She wasn’t expected at the party, and the host noted that she seemed out of sorts and upset, and had arrived wearing sweatpants — an unusually casual choice for Kathie.
Robert called, and Kathie went home to their house in Westchester County, where the couple got into an argument. What happened next is unclear, as her husband has given conflicting accounts. He originally said he put Kathie on a commuter train to Manhattan, had a drink with a friend, and spoke with his wife on the phone when she arrived at their apartment in the city.
Later, he said he’d just went home and went to sleep — without the drink and without speaking to Kathie.
“That’s what I told police,” he eventually admitted. “I was hoping that would just make everything go away.”
Kathie was reported missing days later, when she failed to arrive for a date with the friend who hosted the party on Jan. 31.
Will We Ever Know the Truth?
With the death of Robert, we may never know exactly what happened to Kathie. Still, circumstantial clues may shed light on her ultimate fate.
Weeks before she disappeared, Kathie was seen with bruises on her face and told a friend that Robert had beaten her, though she never pressed charges.
She also reportedly asked Robert for a large divorce settlement sometime before she went missing. As if to punish her for wanting to leave, Robert canceled her credit card, struck her name from their shared bank accounts, and stopped paying for her medical school tuition.
By the time his wife disappeared, Robert had been living in a separate apartment and was said to be carrying on an affair with another woman.
While the specifics of Kathie’s disappearance may never be uncovered, the facts surrounding her final (known) days seem to implicate her husband. Prosecutors thought the same, and charged Robert with Kathie’s murder in 2017 (he’s also alleged to have outright confessed to killing her.)
Family Vows to Keep Searching for Answers
A lawyer for Kathie’s family issued a statement on Monday after news of Robert’s death circulated. In it, her loved ones vowed to continue searching for answers in her tragic disappearance almost exactly four decades ago.
“Although Robert Durst has died, the ongoing investigation into those who helped him cover up her murder continues,” said attorney Robert Abrams.
“On January 31, 2022, the 40th anniversary of Kathie’s murder, we will provide a further update. In the interim, please say a prayer for Kathie and his other victims.”
It’s not clear what information the family plans to release. However, through their attorney, the McCormacks have said they believe that “lawyers, prosecutors, police, friends of [Robert] Durst” conspired in the years since 1982 to “cover up” the truth of Kathie’s death.