The Slatest

Family of Robert Durst’s First Wife Sues Him Over “Right to Sepulcher”

Robert Durst in a New York courtroom on Dec. 10, 2014.

Mike Segar/Reuters

Citing a New York state law that allows families “the immediate right to possession of a body for burial,” the mother and sisters of accused murderer Robert Durst’s first wife Kathleen have sued him for $100 million. Durst, 72, is currently being held in Louisiana on a federal gun charge related to his March 14 arrest in New Orleans; after that charge is resolved, he will be transferred to California, where he is accused of the 2000 murder of his friend Susan Berman. Durst is also suspected of having killed Kathleen and was acquitted in 2003 on charges of murdering a Texas man named Morris Black. (Durst admitted to killing and then dismembering Black but said he initially acted in self-defense.)

From the New York Times:

The lawsuit contends that Mr. Durst violated the McCormack family’s right to sepulcher, a rarely used New York law granting family members the immediate right to possession of a body for burial.

“The family’s priority has been and continues to be to provide Kathleen with a proper and dignified burial,” Robert Abrams, a lawyer for the McCormack family, said.

The lawsuit contends that Mr. Durst, his marriage having collapsed amid violence, “murdered Kathleen,” his first wife. If successful, the lawsuit would strip Mr. Durst of much of his wealth; authorities put his net worth at about $100 million.

Durst has never been formally charged with any crime related to Kathleen’s disappearance, but Durst moved to Texas and began living under the identity of a mute woman (!) shortly after New York authorities reopened the case in the late ‘90s, an event which also coincided with Susan Berman’s death.