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Robert Durst's Fall From Real Estate Heir to Accused Murderer

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Last update March 24, 2015

Since the shocking and perhaps too-well-timed finale of "The Jinx" on Sunday evening, Robert Durst, the estranged scion of a New York real estate dynasty, is once again dominating headlines across the country. The six-part HBO documentary brought Durst, son of Seymour Durst and former heir to the Durst Organization, back into the spotlight after years of legal troubles and brushes with the law, and on Saturday, he was arrested on murder charges for the 2000 death of his good friend Susan Berman in Los Angeles. Then, during the finale, Durst seemingly confessed to killing Berman, his first wife (who disappeared more than 30 years ago), and his neighbor in Texas (who he chopped up and dumped in the Galveston Bay), when he muttered into a hot mic, "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course." Almost immediately, the timeline of "The Jinx" came under scrutiny, and the internet blew up with debates over what the confession means for Durst's upcoming trial. Like just about everything involving the man, the situation is shrouded in mystery, so to get a handle on exactly how he got here, below is a timeline of Durst's life and downward spiral.

April 12, 1943: Robert Durst is born to parents Seymour Durst, head of the Durst Organization, and Bernice Herstein. He has three younger siblings, Douglas (now head of the Durst Organization), Thomas, and Wendy.

November 8, 1950: Durst's mother dies after falling or jumping from the roof of their Scarsdale home. In "The Jinx," Durst claims that his father walked him to the window, and he saw his mother fall from the roof. His brother says this is a lie.

Spring 1965: Durst graduates from Lehigh University. He was a member of the varsity lacrosse team.

Fall 1965: He moves to California for a doctorate program at UCLA. This is where he met Susan Berman, who became his close friend.

Sometime in 1969: Durst leaves UCLA without graduating and returns to New York to work for the Durst Organization.

Fall 1971: Durst meets Kathleen McCormack, whose family lived in a building owned by the Durst Organization.

January 1972: Durst and McCormack move to Vermont to run a health food store called All Good Things.

Early 1973: At the insistence of Durst's father, the couple moves back to Manhattan so Durst can work for the family business. In "The Jinx," Durst says he did not want to work for the Durst Organization.

April 12, 1973: Durst and McCormack marry.

1980: Their marriage is starting to deteriorate, and reports say that Kathleen hired a divorce lawyer. They also lived in separate apartments for a significant amount of time.

January 31, 1982: This is the last day Kathleen Durst is seen alive. Durst is dating Prudence Farrow at this time.

February 5, 1982: Durst reports Kathleen's disappearance to the police. Durst told police that after he and Kathleen had a fight at their cottage in Katonah, Kathleen got on a train to Manhattan. He told police he spoke to her on the phone that evening, but that was later revealed to be a lie. The doorman of their Upper West Side building told police he saw Kathleen arrive, but during "The Jinx," it was revealed that the doorman told a private investigator hired by the Durst family that Kathleen never arrived.

July 14, 1983: Durst buys an apartment at 40 East 94th Street. This was pre-ACRIS, so digitized documents do not list a sale price. The Times says that during this year, Durst stopped going to work.

End of 1983: Durst is back at work for the family business.

1989: The Durst Organization sells a building for $30 million, and Durst uses his money to buy property in Dallas.

1991: Problems start to arise between Robert and Douglas in the business, because, as the Times writes, "it became clear that Douglas would succeed his father at the head of the family empire."

1994: Seymour Durst officially makes Douglas the designated successor instead of Robert. Durst told the Times this year that the last straw was Robert urinating in waste baskets in the office.

May 15, 1995: Seymour Durst dies. Robert visited him on his deathbed, but did not attend the funeral.

Late 1998: A man arrested in Westchester County says he has information about the disappearance of Kathleen Durst, prompting the District Attorney to reopen the case.

Spring 2000: Durst is seen on the shore of Lake Truesdale near the cottage he shared with Kathleen. Shortly after this, he essentially fell off the map.

December 11, 2000: Durst marries real estate broker Debrah Charatan. The Daily News described the "secret wedding" as "a hush-hush 15-minute ceremony in a midtown office tower." No one knew about the wedding until Durst's arrest in October 2001, and Charatan posted bail for him. According to this Times story, Charatan and Durst started dating in 1988, and briefly lived together in 1990, which was, apparently, the only time they have lived together.

December 23, 2000: Berman is found dead in her Los Angeles apartment. She was shot in the back of the head, and police discovered her body after receiving an anonymous letter with her address and the word "cadaver." Investigators in New York had contacted Berman just days before to interview her for the reopened case about Durst's wife. However, Durst was not immediately a suspect in her murder; instead, the LAPD focused on Berman's mob connections.

October 9, 2001: Durst is arrested for the murder of Morris Black, who was his neighbor in Galveston, Texas, where Durst had been posing as a mute woman named Dorothy Ciner. Black's dismembered body was found floating in garbage bags in the Galveston Bay. The only part that was missing—and has never been found—is his head.

October 10, 2001: Durst is released after posting $300,000 bail.

October 16, 2001: Durst skips his hearing and becomes a fugitive.

November 30, 2001: Durst is arrested in Pennsylvania after trying to steal a sandwich from a Wegman's grocery store. He had $37,000 in cash, two guns, marijuana, and Black's driver's license in his car, as well as $500 in his wallet.

December 2001: Robert shows up at Douglas's house in Westchester. Robert is armed, but nothing happens. The incident came to light a few years later when phone conversations that Robert and Charatan had while Robert was in prison were released.

September 2003: Durst goes on trial for the murder of Morris Black in Galveston, Texas. Durst hired the high profile defense attorney Dick DeGuerin to lead his legal team. Durst claimed self-defense, and he was called as the first witness for the defense.

November 2003: After a six-week trial and five days of jury deliberations, Durst was found not guilty of killing Morris Black, even though Durst admitted to carving up his body.

September 2004: Durst pleads guilty to gun charges and evidence tampering related to the death of Morris Black. He is sentenced to five years in prison.

July 2005: Durst is released on parole.

December 2005: Durst is arrested in Texas for violating the terms of his parole by returning to the house where he killed Black.

February 2006: The Durst Organization settles a lawsuit brought by Robert by agreeing to buy his shares of the company for $65 million. The legal battled had dragged on for years.

March 1, 2006: Durst is released from jail and allowed to return to his home in Houston.

October 2007: Durst reportedly checked out an apartment at 515 East 72nd Street, when the building was still called Miraval Living. However, the building wanted none of that, and quickly lawyered up to block him from buying.

April to July 2008: Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki films the bulk of his movie "All Good Things," which is a fictional depiction of Robert Durst's life and the disappearance of Kathleen Durst.

October 2010: The Durst Organization threatens legal action over the movie.

December 2010: After a series of delays, "All Good Things" is released. According to the Jinx, the film prompts Robert to contact Jarecki, and Jarecki begins working on the documentary. The first interview with Robert for The Jinx took place over three days near the end of 2010.

October 14, 2011: Durst closes on a townhouse at 218 Lenox Avenue in Harlem using the shell company name "Woofwoof LLC," which is kind of creepy considering he killed seven dogs. He paid $1.75 million, and was planning to use it as an investment property and possibly live there, according to the Journal. Durst still owns this property.

November 2011: Durst—or more likely, Durst's wife—begins a spree of buying multi-family properties. He paid $4.4 million for 250 Pacific Street in Boerum Hill. According to ACRIS, he used the company name 250 Pacific LLC. He also bought 234 Union Avenue in Williamsburg under an LLC. All of these LLCs are entities of BCB Management, the company controlled by Charatan. They were revealed to be owned by Durst in court documents in 2013.

February 2, 2012: Durst transfers ownership of the apartment buildings at 409-411 East 6th Street to Charatan.

April 2012: Douglas Durst files a restraining order against Robert. This likely happened around the same time that Jarecki filmed Robert near Douglas's house in Manhattan, which was probably the same day as the second interview in "The Jinx," as Jarecki and Robert have on the same clothes.

Early 2013: Durst/Charatan buy two East Harlem buildings. It is around this time that Jarecki says they began to work with the Los Angeles Police Department after a forensic expert matches Robert's handwriting to that of the "cadaver" note.

August 17, 2013: Robert is arrested for violating the restraining order. Robert was filmed by a security camera on June 2 walking up to the front door of Douglas's home on West 43rd Street.

August 21, 2013: Durst tells DNAinfo, "I'd like to talk to you about how great the properties are and how great Brooklyn is, but now is not the time. Call me in a couple of months. I've got a lot of s--- going on right now, and I'm not going to talk about it with a reporter."

April 2014: Durst sells 234 Union Avenue for $11.35 million.

June 2014: Jarecki and his team discover the audio of Durst in the bathroom, muttering to himself and saying "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course."

July 2014: Durst faces charges after urinating on candy at a CVS in Houston. He was freed on $5,000 bail.

December 2014: Durst sells the East Harlem buildings to Madison Realty Capital for $6.675 million. "The Jinx" is officially announced this month.

December 10, 2014: Robert's trespassing trial begins.

January 2015: Douglas Durst, who declined to be a part of "The Jinx," gives an exclusive interview to the Times, and calls Robert a "true psychopath."

February 8, 2015: The first episode in the six-part series premieres.

March 8, 2015: The LAPD reopen the case of Susan Berman's murder.

March 14, 2015: Durst is arrested on murder charges in New Orleans, where he checked into a hotel using a false name.

March 15, 2015: The Jinx finale airs, and ends with Durst seemingly confessing to all three murders. Everyone kind of loses their minds, and begins dissecting the timeline of the documentary, as well as what the confession means.

March 15, 2015: New York State investigators confiscated 60 file boxes of documents from the house of Susan T. Giordano, Durst's friend, in Campbell Hill, NY. The Times reported this on March 23, but said that the seizure occurred "only hours before the conclusion" of The Jinx. Giordano had been sent the documents three years ago by Durst's wife Charatan.

March 16, 2015: Investigators announce that Durst is being charged with the murder of Susan Berman. He has once again hired Dick DeGuerin, and his legal team opted to waive extradition to get Durst to Los Angeles as quickly as possible. However, on Monday evening, Louisiana State Police charged Durst with "felony possession of a firearm and another of possession of a firearm with a controlled substance." These charges could delay Durst's transfer to California.

March 17, 2015: Durst appears in court in New Orleans to face the charges brought by the Louisiana State Police. He will be detained in New Orleans until at least Monday. ABC News reports that DeGuerin told the media, "Bob Durst didn't kill Susan Berman and he doesn't know who did. That being said my concern that the warrant that was issued in California was issued because of a television show and not because of facts. We want to contest the basis for his arrest because I think it's not based on facts, it's based on ratings. So we will continue to fight for Bob. We want to get to California as quickly as we can so that we can get to a court of law and try the case where it needs to be tried."

This same day, seven police officers searched Durst's Houston apartment and left with two filled cardboard boxes. Durst lived on the 14th floor and sometimes attended homeowners' association meetings.

March 17, 2015: This evening, officials transferred Durst to the Elayn Hunt Correctional facility because "it is equipped to treat the mentally ill," according to ABC News. Officials believe him to be a suicide risk. Durst legal team says he suffers a mild form of Asperger syndrome.

March 23, 2015: At a bond hearing, a New Orleans judge orders Durst to remain jailed without bail. During the hearing, a slew of weird and creepy things were revealed about Durst. Maps of Cuba, New Orleans, and Florida were found in his New Orleans hotel room, along with a new cell phone and a mask, but "not something you'd find at the Halloween Store or atop a float headed down Canal St — the mask appeared to look like natural skin covering his face and neck and included greying hair on top."

March 24, 2015: It's reported that Durst is suspected in the the 1971 disappearance of a Middlebury College student, Lynne Schulze, who was 18 years old at the time. According to the Burlington Free Press, Schulze was last seen standing across the street from Durst's health food store, All Good Things.

March 24, 2015: The Times publishes a story featuring the first interview with Douglas Durst since Robert's arrest. Douglas, who has said before that he believes Robert wants to kill him, told the Times that he knew that Robert was "less than nine miles" from his house in Palm Beach. They don't know how close he got.

We weren't able to track him that closely, but we were able to see where he had been," Douglas said, declining to say how he knew even that much. "We had to have security staying in the house." In recent years, Douglas said, he has been particularly concerned for the safety of his eldest daughter, Anita Durst, the head of an arts organization.

"Bob seemed to have some fixation on her," Douglas Durst said. "She had events in the city where he would show up."

Douglas said that now that Robert has been arrested, "there"s just a tremendous sense of relief." He also said that when Kathleen went missing in 1982, his brother Tom "firmly believed, immediately, that Bob was responsible," but their father did not. "Seymour loved Bob and would never have believed that Bob could do anything like that."
· The Jinx [official]
· All Robert Durst coverage [Curbed]
· Robert Durst of The Jinx's Family Real Estate Empire, Mapped [Curbed]