Murder-accused millionaire Durst denied bail

2015-03-24 06:25
Real estate heir Robert Durst leaves a Houston courtroom. (Pat Sullivan, AP)

Real estate heir Robert Durst leaves a Houston courtroom. (Pat Sullivan, AP)

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New Orleans - Robert Durst, the real estate scion awaiting extradition in the US to face a murder charge, was denied bail on Monday in New Orleans, as police in Vermont said they were probing a link between him and an 18-year-old woman who went missing in 1971.

Durst, recently featured in the HBO documentary "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst," must remain in Louisiana on weapons charges until his next court date on 2 April, Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell ruled, finding him a likely flight risk and a potential danger to others.

Durst's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, did not seek bail but argued his client's arrest and the search of his hotel room earlier this month in New Orleans were improper, and that investigators wrongly interviewed him without counsel present.

Durst's attorneys want to expedite his extradition to Los Angeles County, where he has been charged with the 2000 murder of longtime friend Susan Berman and could face the death penalty.

The HBO documentary broadcast Durst being presented with evidence his handwriting appeared to match that of Berman's likely killer.

‘Killed them all’

The 71-year-old Durst's voice was subsequently captured on a microphone saying that he had "killed them all."

Long a suspect in the disappearance of his wife, Kathleen Durst, in 1982 in New York, Durst was acquitted in the dismemberment killing of his neighbour in Texas in 2003.

Also on Monday, police in Middlebury, Vermont, said they were probing a link between Lynne Schulze, a college student who vanished 44 years ago, and Durst, who owned a health food store in town.

"We have been aware of this connection for several years and have been working with various outside agencies as we follow this lead," police said in a statement, adding they were releasing no further details.

The final HBO episode aired one day after Durst's arrest at a New Orleans hotel, where he was staying under an alias and had over $42 000 in cash, a revolver, marijuana and a latex mask that could fit over his neck and head, authorities have said.

FBI agents arrested Durst over fears he would flee the country, the agency has said.

Tracked down

Durst, long estranged from his powerful family with its major New York real estate holdings, appeared in court on Monday with his head shaved, revealing a long scar on the right side of his head.

James O'Hern, an investigator for the local district attorney's office, testified that authorities tracked Durst down after he placed two calls from a phone at the hotel to the voicemail on his personal phone.

Also in his room was a scribbled tracking number for a package that authorities later seized, which contained $117 000, O'Hern said.

Former Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, who reopened an investigation in 2000 into the disappearance of Durst's wife, was also in court.

Durst's attorney asked her to be removed from the courtroom as a potential witness. Cantrell allowed Pirro, now a Fox News host, to stay.

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