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Real Estate Scion Robert Durst Dies at 78 While Awaiting Trial for Wife's Murder

Durst, 78, was sentenced last year to life in prison without parole in California for murdering a confidante whom Los Angeles prosecutors say helped him cover up his wife's killing

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Millionaire real estate scion Robert Durst has died at age 78, only a few months after being convicted of one murder and charged in another.

One of his lawyers confirmed Durst died Monday morning while in the custody of the California Department of Corrections.

"We understand that his death was due to natural causes associated with the litany of medical issues we had repeatedly reported to the court over the last couple of years," attorney Chip Lewis said.

Durst was indicted last November in New York with the death of his former wife, Kathie Durst, who vanished in 1982. The Westchester County District Attorney's Office said it would hold a news conference in "the coming days" to release more information about the case against Durst, given his death.

Those charges came just days after he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for murdering a confidante, whom prosecutors say helped him cover up Kathie Durst’s killing. Los Angeles prosecutors say Durst shot Susan Berman in 2000 as she was preparing to confess her role to police.

Durst, who had numerous medical issues, sat in a wheelchair during much of the sentencing hearing, and in the days after was hospitalized on a ventilator after testing positive for COVID-19.

Kathie Durst was 29 when she vanished on Jan. 31, 1982.

Her body was never found. At the request of her family, she was declared legally dead in 2017. Robert Durst divorced Kathie Durst in 1990, citing abandonment. Attorneys for Kathie Durst's family said Monday they would provide an update Jan. 31 on their ongoing investigation into her death.

Robert Durst was not charged in her disappearance until last year, despite several efforts over the years to close the case. Authorities reopened the case in 1999, searching a lake and the couple’s home.

“It’s a shame when anybody loses their life, however, it’s important to keep in mind that Bob Durst lived to be 78 years old, decades longer than two of his victims. To the end he was hostile, unrepentant, and unremorseful. My thoughts and sympathies lie with his victims," L.A. County Deputy District Attorney John Lewin, who prosecuted Durst for Berman's murder, said in a statement.

NBC New York / The Associated Press
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