A controversial, eccentric, and embattled one-time Houston-area resident has died. Robert Durst, the real estate heir and fugitive convicted of killing his best friend and sentenced to life in prison, passed away in prison at the age of 78 in Stockton, California, his lawyer reported.
“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,” his lawyer Chip Lewis noted in a statement.
The subject of the often eerie documentary The Jinx, Durst was arrested in Galveston for the murder of Morris Black, his 71-year-old neighbor who was found dismembered, in October 2001.
Durst had rented an apartment in Galveston in April, according to The New York Times, and went by the name of “Dorothy” and was seen dressed as a woman at the library and at area restaurants.
He claimed self defense when accused of murdering Black. He admitted to using a paring knife, two saws, and an ax to dismember and dispose of Black’s body, which he later dumped in Galveston Bay, per the Associated Press.
In a move that surprised many, Durst was acquitted by a jury in November 2003.
“You could see that this person knew what they were doing and that it was not a first time,” Galveston trial judge Susan Criss said in 2015. “The body was cut perfectly like a surgeon who knew how to use this tool on this bone and a certain kind of tool on that muscle. It looked like not a first-time job. That was pretty scary.”
Adding to his infamy was Durst apparently admitting guilt on a live microphone during a heated interview with Jinx filmmaker Andrew Jarecki: “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course,” Durst said in the film.
And that, possibly, is how the man embroiled in controversy will be remembered by many.