The Durst Family’s Tower of Suffering
The fabulously rich clan of accused serial murderer Robert Durst manages the Freedom Tower with the same seeming indifference it showed to his missing wife.
When the FBI agents arrested Robert Durst, they found a .38-caliber revolver in the possession of a man who had admitted killing a neighbor and was suspected of killing his wife as well as his best friend.
And anybody who may have delayed his arrest for murder by even a day should give a prayer of thanks that he seems not to have killed anybody else in the meantime.
Of course, we should all thank the makers of the HBO documentary series The Jinx for uncovering the new evidence and the seeming admission that appear to have made the arrest at a New Orleans hotel on Saturday possible.
Without the filmmakers, Durst would almost certainly still be walking around.
But it is hard to shake a feeling that more than coincidence explains the timing of the arrest. The filmmakers’ triumph at least smells of an unseemly conjoining of popo and promo.
The timeline is that of an arrest made in hype heaven:
· Three long years after the big interview in which the filmmakers confronted Durst with seemingly damning new evidence…
· Nine whole months after the filmmakers say they discovered the audio of Durst talking to himself alone in the bathroom following the interview, wearing a hot mic and seemingly confessing to murder…
· But just one day before the series finale.
The sleaziest Hollywood press agent could not have schemed it better.
Let’s hope the LAPD and the FBI were not party to parlaying a murder arrest into a ratings boost.
The authorities have insisted that they made the arrest when they did on the belief that Durst was planning to flee, perhaps on the new direct flight from New Orleans to Cuba.
The filmmakers have said they had nothing to do with the timing. The director, Andrew Jarecki, told The New York Times, “We were concerned that Bob was floating around.”
Jarecki also said, “We were nervous. We had security.”
Somebody else who had felt the need to hire security was Douglas Durst, the suspected killer’s younger brother. His concern for himself is in marked contrast to the concern that he and his family reportedly manifested for his brother’s wife, Kathie McCormack Durst, when she went missing back in 1982.
The McCormack clan has said the fabulously wealthy Durst clan offered them neither comfort nor support after she vanished. Kathie’s brother, James McCormack, told ABC in the network’s 2001 documentary Vanished: The Cold Case of Kathie Durst that the Durst patriarch, Seymour, never even telephoned the heartbroken mother.
“He never reached out to her,” James McCormack told ABC. “Not once.”
He and his mother said much the same to the makers of The Jinx. And the Durst clan’s silence only seemed to deepen as it appeared increasingly likely that Robert Durst had played a role in Kathie’s disappearance.
The Dursts also do not seem to have been of any great assistance to the police. Robert went on to become the prime suspect in two other murders.
But then the Dursts got word that Robert had been taped talking about also killing Douglas.
The Durst clan has now been quick to praise Robert’s arrest.
“We are relieved and also grateful to everyone who assisted in the arrest of Robert Durst,” Douglas said in a statement. “We hope he will finally be held accountable for all he has done.”
Maybe the “finally” harks back to Kathie’s disappearance and “all he has done” suggests that the Durst clan is acknowledging Robert’s alleged role in her death.
Meanwhile, the clan that is said by Kathie’s family to have demonstrated such indifference to their pain is continuing to oversee and manage the Freedom Tower that rises beside the memorial to the innocents who died there on 9/11.
Of the 2,753 who perished that day, 1,121 have never been identified. They remain as missing as Kathie, their families suffering pain that would be all too familiar to the McCormacks.
Equally familiar to the McCormacks would be the attitude of the Dursts.
A video of the tower on the Durst Organization’s website employs fancy camerawork to sweep into the grand front entrance without showing more than a glimpse of just a sliver of one of the memorial pools.
“A great address is magnetic, drawing admiration and respect, attracting talent and business,” a narrator says. “It’s a destination, rising above all others.”
The effect is a little like some Durst home movie with pesky Kathie edited out.
Under a section headed “amenities,” the website offers a description of the area surrounding 1 World Trade Center, which fails even to mention the twin memorials bearing the names of the dead and missing.
“A 16-acre campus featuring a tree-filled park and world-class architecture,” the Durst website says.
The overlooked thousands include 13 accompanied by the words “and her unborn child.”
Why let the memory of dead innocents cast a pall on Durst business?
Or at least the Dursts other than Robert, who reportedly received $65 million to cut his ties with the family in 2006. Douglas and others in the family subsequently secured orders of protection against him, and he was arrested for trespass after he ventured near their residences in Manhattan. He beat those charges at trial last December.
“I felt like kissing my lawyers,” he said afterward.
He had said much the same after his lawyers got him out of a murder charge in Texas by successfully arguing that he had killed his neighbor Morris Black in self-defense before dismembering him.
He is expected to have the same lead attorney as he faces charges of murdering his friend Susan Berman, who had served as his spokeswoman after Kathie vanished. He allegedly feared that Berman would incriminate him after authorities reopened Kathie’s case in 2000.
Robert waived extradition on at a hearing on Monday, but after it seemed the transfer to Los Angles might be delayed by the matter of the gun he was said to have been packing when he was arrested.
That being the gun that should make us all glad he was arrested, even if we did get a skeevy feeling about the timing.
But the larger question of timing goes back more than three decades.
You have to think that it might have ended if everybody had done what they should have done after Kathie disappeared.
And everybody would include the cops and the Dursts.