While Robert Durst has yet to face criminal charges in the disappearance of his first wife, New Hyde Park native Kathleen McCormack Durst, her family has accused him of murder in a $100 million Nov. 30 lawsuit.
McCormack’s mother, Ann McCormack of New Hyde Park, filed the suit in state Supreme Court in Mineola, alleging Durst murdered Kathleen and caused the family “extreme emotional distress, humiliation, mental and physical anguish, as well as economic losses” by keeping her body hidden.
“It is as if she vanished from the face of the Earth,” says the suit, filed by Lake Success attorney Robert Abrams. The other plaintiffs are Carol Bamonte, Mary Hughes and Virginia McKeon, McCormack’s daughters.
The lawsuit charges Durst violated the family’s right to sepulcher, a common-law statute providing legal recourse if the mishandling of a deceased person’s body causes mental anguish.
Kathleen’s body was never found after she disappeared on January 31, 1982, so the suit accuses Durst of hiding her body from police and the family, and preventing them from giving her a proper burial.
“Plaintiffs and law enforcement have conducted an exhaustive search for Kathleen; however, they have been unable to locate her whereabouts or resting place,” the lawsuit says.
That caused $50 million worth of emotional damages to Ann McCormack and her three daughters, the filing says. It also asks for $50 million in punitive damages and legal fees.
Durst is currently in federal prison in Louisiana on criminal weapons possession charges, awaiting extradition to California for trial in the alleged 2000 murder of Susan Berman.
The McCormack family’s filing cites Durst’s recorded confession in the finale HBO documentary series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” which aired the day after federal agents arrested Durst for Berman’s murder in March.
“There it is … you’re caught,” he says to himself off-camera. “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
Durst, heir to the fortune of multimillion-dollar Durst Organization, a Manhattan real estate group, was also acquitted of murder in the 2001 killing and dismemberment of Morris Black, his elderly neighbor in Galveston, Texas.
In 1972 he married Kathleen, a New Hyde Park Memorial High School graduate who moved to the village with her parents in 1962.
She disappeared after receiving a threatening phone call from Durst at a party in Newtown, Conn., warning her friend Gilberte Najamy that she was “afraid of what Bobby might do,” the lawsuit says. Enough evidence has never mounted to charge Durst in her death.
The New York Times reported Kathleen’s brother, James McCormack, filed a suit against Durst last year. New York City court database also lists a filing against him by Morris Black’s estate, but full records were not immediately available.