Retired NYPD Detective Hopes For Resolution In Disappearance Of Robert Durst’s Wife

SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)Robert Durst was never arrested or charged in the disappearance of his wife, Kathleen Durst, more than 30 years ago.

But as CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported, investigators have long considered Durst a suspect in the case.

Durst, 71, was in New Orleans Monday awaiting extradition to Los Angeles. He was set to face a murder charge there in the shooting nearly 15 years ago of Susan Berman, a mobster’s daughter who vouched for him after his wife disappeared.

If convicted, he could face the death penalty, Los Angeles authorities said.

Berman, 55, a writer who became Durst’s spokeswoman, was killed at her home near Beverly Hills with a bullet to the back of her head in 2000, as New York investigators prepared to question her about Kathleen Durst’s death. But Kathleen Durst’s death still remains unsolved.

CBS2’s Matt Kozar talked with former NYPD Detective Michael Struk, who was part of the investigation.

“In 1982, Bob Durst had reported his wife missing to me,” Struk said.

When Robert Durst walked up to Struk’s death in the police precinct, the young NYPD detective had no idea the missing persons report would turn into one of the biggest unsolved cases of his career.

“In my mind looking back, he lacked emotion,” Struk said.

Struk said an eccentric, calculated and distant Robert Durst reported his wife’s disappearance several days after he claimed he dropped her off at a train station near their country home in Westchester County.

Struk said Kathleen Durst’s family and friends were immediately suspicious of her husband.

“They right very early on had indicated that he had potential of perhaps harming her, or that he was a volatile guy,” Struk said.

Several witnesses claimed they saw Kathleen Durst in Manhattan after her husband dropped her off at the train station, but Struk said they later recanted their stories, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.

He said those who claimed to see her were “either lying, or made a mistake, or they were bamboozled by people.”

Struk said the last person known to have spoken with Kathleen Durst was her college dean, whom she called to say she was too ill to come to class the day she went on to disappear.

The Dursts lived in a stone lakeside cottage at the end of a bucolic dead-end street in South Salem, where memories of cadaver dogs searching the property still haunted the neighbors some 33 years later.

There was only one person in this neighborhood as of the present day who interacted with Durst when he lived in the cottage. He would not go on camera Monday, saying only that Durst kept to himself.

Others said the FBI has been conducting investigations in the area for years.

“We woke up to FBI agents in the backyard swimming in the lake,” said neighbor Cindy Rodgers.

Rodgers said the neighborhood is trying to move past its infamous former resident.

“We really just kind of like want our street back,” she said.

Struk said he hopes the case will come to a resolution.

“I hope that maybe (Robert Durst) just coughs it up and says, ‘You know, you got me — I did X, Y and Z to Kathie,’ but I wouldn’t bet on that,” he said.

Does Struk think justice will prevail?

“Your guess is as good as mine” was his answer.

More From CBS New York

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS
Get Our Morning Briefs

Watch & Listen LIVE