When Linda Walker Zevallos started dating real estate heir Robert Durst back in 2000, she had no idea who he was, and never knew that he was a suspect in the disappearance of his own wife, Kathie Durst, back in 1982. The two met by chance, during a flight, and struck up a conversation.
“He was quite nice on the airplane. He was a good listener,” Zevallos said.
When they disembarked the plane, Durst asked if she would go out with him. She declined at first, telling him she wasn’t sure, but the next day, Durst sent her an extravagant amount of flowers, along with his phone number.
“There must have been $500 worth of orchids,” Zevallos said.
So she called to thank him, and when he asked her out again, she again politely declined. But the third time was the charm for Durst, and when he called her to ask one more time, Zevallos accepted.
Zevallos says the relationship began with a series of lies. To begin with, Durst initially told her he was a labor lawyer, and that he had two daughters who were both attending college. Chillingly, he never mentioned his missing wife, Kathie, but did weave a story about a friend whose spouse went missing.
“He also told me that his friend’s wife went missing. Not his but his friend’s,” Zevallos said.
The relationship lasted for six months, despite the fact that Zevallos wasn’t very interested in him. But, she admits, she would accept his invitations because he was so persistent.
“I was just never into him,” Zevallos explained. “The only reason I kept seeing him is because he was the one who was pursuing me. He kept calling and calling.”
But as time went on, Durst started to show a disturbing trend of getting angry when he didn’t get his own way. Once, Zevallos recalled, Durst actually kicked Zevallos under a restaurant table simply because she wanted to order sea bass. Durst told her she couldn’t have it because he wanted the sea bass, as well.
After six months, Zevallos broke it off.
“I just had had enough,” she says. “It was too weird. I just sensed there was something wrong with the guy.”
It wasn’t until the next year, while watching television, that she discovered how right she had been.
“I saw the Today show. They were talking about Robert Durst. They had pictures of him and Kathie Durst and then they were talking about Susan Berman. I was shocked. It was only six months before that I saw him.”
She now knows that Durst was acquitted in 2003 of the murder of his neighbor, Morris Black, whom he admitted to dismembering, and that he has been charged with the murder of Susan Berman. Durst is also being linked to the disappearances of several others.
“I feel very lucky. I dodged a bullet.”
Zevallos said that Durst called her for months after she broke it off, just to breathe into the phone. In hindsight, Zevallos says she noticed several things that now seem disturbing and questionable.
In an interview with People, Zevallos recalls a room in Durst’s apartment with a concrete floor and an electric saw. Durst told her that the building was remodeling apartments into condos. Yet she later found out that he had told the building manager that he wanted a concrete floor because he used a lot of chemicals. Zevallos finds the fact Durst lied about the concrete floor disturbing, especially with the presence of an electric saw.
Then there is the matter of the infamous “green ink.” A letter informing the LAPD that Berman was dead and eventually became the link between Durst and Berman’s murder had been written in green ink. When Zevallos heard that, she remembered that she had received a letter from Durst, and that she had filed it away years before. She was able to find it, and sure enough, it was also written in green ink. She turned the letter over to the police.
As for whether she believes Durst is a killer, Zevallos was certain in her answer during an interview with the New York Daily News.
“I don’t have any doubts that he killed Susan Berman and his wife. I think he has issues with abandonment. I think it’s probably because his mother killed herself. He told me he was raised by a governess. He’s psycho. Maybe he wanted to be the American Psycho.”
Zevallos says she watched The Jinx, the HBO documentary about Robert Durst, where he was caught whispering to himself, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course” with his microphone still on.
“I am still shocked,” Zevallos says. “Even 15 years later, I am still scared to death.”
[Photo by Orleans Parish Sheriffs Office via Getty Images]