The Mysterious Disappearance Of Robert Durst's First Wife, Kathleen McCormack

Robert Durst comes from one of the most prominent families in the United States. In 2020, per Forbes, the Durst family was listed as one of America's richest families, with a net worth of $8.1 billion. Although many members of the Durst family are well known for real estate, Robert is notorious for murder. He was also the subject of the HBO documentary series titled "The Jinx: The Life and Death's of Robert Durst."

In 2000, Susan Berman, Durst's best friend, was found deceased in her home with a gunshot wound to the back of her head. Durst was arrested in 2015 in connection to the crime. According to investigators, Durst's motivation for killing Berman was that she knew too much about the disappearance of Kathleen McCormack — his first wife. As the New York Times reported, Durst was found guilty of first-degree murder of his best friend and is facing life in prison without parole. Despite the conclusion to the Berman case, however, there are still unanswered questions regarding McCormack's mysterious disappearance, and her family wants justice to be served.

Robert Durst and Kathleen McCormack's relationship

In 1971, Kathleen McCormack was working as a dentist's assistant in New York and rented an apartment on East 52nd Street in a building that was owned by Robert Durst's family. She first met him when she paid rent, and she was immediately smitten. According to McCormack's then-roommate Cheryl Catranbone, it was evident that the two were interested in each other during that first meeting, despite Durst being nine years McCormack's senior. "When they met, the stars collided," she said (via Crime Story). The two went on a date and soon moved in together. In 1973, the couple wed in a private ceremony, and the relationship seemed like a fairytale romance.

In the early years of the marriage, everything went great. The couple went out to parties and spent time with friends in various New York hotspots. McCormack then decided to go back to school to study nursing, and she graduated in 1978. Afterward, she wanted to pursue further studies to become a doctor, and she enrolled at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, according to Vanity Fair.

Robert Durst's alleged abuse toward Kathleen McCormack

Years into the relationship, Kathleen McCormack confided to her close friends about Robert Durst's violent nature. In a Vanity Fair article, McCormack's friends shared what she told them about her husband. McCormack said that Durst had an issue about her pursuing a career, and he wanted her to stay home to be a housewife. McCormack said that Durst had slapped her, and she also alleged that he pulled her by her hair at a family event. He also persuaded her to get an abortion when she became pregnant.

McCormack soon realized that her relationship with her husband was turning dangerous. By the early 1980s, the relationship was in shambles. Both parties had extramarital affairs, and Durst's violence was escalating. McCormack was contemplating divorce, but a prenuptial agreement made matters complicated, and she did not want to be left with nothing. She decided to hire a lawyer to help her with the process. There were also several instances when McCormack told her friends to look into Durst if anything happened to her. "If anything happens to me, suspect foul play," she said.

Kathleen McCormack's mysterious disappearance

Kathleen McCormack was in her fourth year of medical school when she disappeared in 1982. According to her friend, Gilberta Namjay, McCormack went to a party in her home on the evening of January 31 wearing sweatpants, which was unusual, as she typically dressed nice. Namjay said that McCormack argued with Robert Durst on the phone before leaving the party to go back home to her husband (via Answers Africa). That night was the last time Namjay ever saw her friend.

Durst, on the other hand, said that he last saw McCormack when he dropped her off at the train station as she was heading back to their Manhattan apartment — which was closer to her school — that Saturday night. Durst said that he spoke to his wife when she returned to their apartment, but he failed to provide phone records. Later, he said that he made the call on a payphone, which authorities deemed unlikely as the payphone nearest his residence was 3 miles away, which didn't make any sense, according to Heavy. Durst reported McCormack as a missing person days later on February 5. He said that he wasn't aware of her disappearance and was only made known when his wife's school contacted him and asked why she hadn't been attending her classes. The school's dean also mentioned that on February 1, a person who claimed to be McCormack called the school to say that she was sick and won't be present for her classes.

Kathleen McCormack's family wants justice

Decades after Kathleen McCormack disappeared, her case is yet to be solved. Her family believes that Robert Durst killed her and they want justice. The statement came after Durst was convicted of murdering Susan Berman. The McCormack family said that Kathleen's case should be looked into now that it was proven that Durst killed Berman after helping him hide the truth from authorities, per Oxygen.

According to Buzzfeed News, authorities contacted Berman regarding McCormack's unsolved case. Berman alerted Durst of the inquiry, and then she was killed shortly after. Prosecutors say Durst killed Berman because he feared that she would betray his trust and reveal what she knew to the investigators.

In court, Durst admitted that he lied about talking on the phone with McCormack on the night she disappeared. "That was a lie. I wanted to convince the detective that Kathie had gotten back," he said. Although McCormack's body has never been found, she was declared legally dead in 2017, as reported by News 12. "Susan knew exactly what happened to my baby sister," McCormack's brother, Jim, said.

Kathleen McCormack's case reopened

Kathleen McCormack was only 29 years old when she disappeared in 1982. According to her sister, Mary, Kathleen visited her before Christmas and brought with her a bag full of items, and said, "If anything happens to me, I want you to keep this. If anything happens to me, give it to the police." Kathleen disappeared just a month after that meeting.

Now, decades after she was last seen alive, McCormack's case is being reopened, and with it, her disappearance has been changed to homicide. According to News 12, a cold case unit has been tasked to review all the evidence in McCormack's case, and it will be looked into with a domestic abuse angle. The McCormack family is glad that authorities are taking the time to work on Kathleen's case, but they fear that Robert Durst won't be brought to justice, as he is already in his late 70s, and his health is deteriorating. Despite the outcome of the McCormack case, Durst will be spending the rest of his life behind bars.