Robert Durst, the millionaire murder suspect who is the star of an HBO documentary series about his case, The Jinx, was once considered a possible suspect in the still-unsolved disappearances of two teen girls, both in Northern California, just five months apart in 1997. After Durst was arrested Saturday night in connection with the gunshot murder of a longtime friend, the disappearances of 18-year-old Kristen Modafferi and 16-year-old Karen Marie Mitchell are being looked at in a new light.
Read the Inquisitr report on the arrest of Robert Durst at this link.
Modafferi (pictured above right) vanished on June 23, 1997, after leaving work for the day at a coffee shop in a San Francisco mall.
Mitchell (above left) was also last seen leaving her job in a mall in Eureka, California, on November 25 of the same year. She visited another business there, where an aunt worked, then exited the mall at about 2:45 p.m. that day — never to be heard from again.
Except for one witness, who reported seeing the girl get into a blue, late-1970s model sedan, driven by a caucasian man in his 60s with light gray hair. The witness provided a description that resulted in a rough police sketch — a sketch that looked a lot like Robert Durst.
Durst, at the time, was still considered a suspect in the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen McCormack. The 2000 murder of Susan Berman, which led to his arrest Saturday, and the 2001 killing and dismemberment of Durst’s neighbor, Morris Black — for which Durst was acquitted despite admitting that he chopped Black up after “accidentally” killing him in “self defense” — had not yet occurred.
The possible links between Durst and the disappearances of the two teenage girls in California were explored in a 2002 book about Durst, A Deadly Secret, by journalist Matt Birkbeck, who wrote that Durst had been acquainted with Mitchell in Eureka before the 17-year-old vanished.
“Durst lived in nearby Trinidad at the time and had frequented a homeless shelter where Mitchell had volunteered. He had also visited Mitchell at a local shoe store where she worked… I originally reported on Durst’s connection to the Mitchell disappearance in 2003 while he was awaiting trial for the Morris Black murder, and during the trial I was told then by someone close to Durst’s defense team that Durst thought he would be indicted for Mitchell. He never was.”
The final episode of the HBO series The Jinx is set to air tonight, March 15, and contains newly revealed, potentially incriminating evidence against Durst in the Berman murder. Authorities say that when Durst was arrested in New Orleans on Saturday, he may have been preparing to flee the country for Cuba. Saturday was the first day since 1958 that a nonstop flight ran between Cuba and the U.S.
[Images: CharleyProject.org, HBO, FindKristen.com, MattBirkbeck.com]