FBI tells law enforcement to search for Durst link in cold cases

FBI, informal task force tell law enforcement agencies across U.S. to search for Durst link in cold cases

FBI agents and members of an informal task force are investigating whether Robert Durst may be responsible for other unsolved slayings in the various locales where he resided, according to a law enforcement source.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was ongoing, stressed that the investigation is designed to look for possible links and that there was no evidence now connecting Durst to other unsolved cases.

The FBI has contacted local authorities to review cold cases in places Durst lived, including New York, Vermont, Northern California and Southern California, the source said. Federal authorities have also been working with Westchester County, N.Y., prosecutors and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Durst was arrested Saturday in New Orleans in connection with the 2000 fatal shooting of writer Susan Berman at her Benedict Canyon home. He was charged Monday with murder, and the next day transferred to a mental health facility at a state-run prison in Louisiana.

His extradition to California has been delayed as authorities in New Orleans deal with lesser allegations against him stemming from a revolver and marijuana authorities found in his hotel room there.

The FBI's investigation of Durst in connection to cold cases comes as police in Eureka, Calif., probe links between the 71-year-old and the 1997 disappearance of a teenage girl.

Eureka police said Tuesday that they want to know whether Durst has information on the disappearance of Karen Mitchell, said Capt. Steve Watson, who did not identify Durst as either a suspect or person of interest in the cold case.

Eureka investigators are working with the FBI, Watson said.

Meanwhile, New York authorities remain interested in Durst as they continue to investigate what happened to his first wife, Kathleen, who disappeared in 1982.

Kathleen Durst vanished after she expressed the desire for a divorce. To a friend, she had confided worries about what her husband might do.

Following the disappearance, Berman acted as an "informal spokesman" for Durst. The pair had met at UCLA, where they went to school together.

Prosecutors in Los Angeles allege that Durst killed Berman to prevent her from speaking to police about the disappearance of his wife. Durst could face the death penalty for the murder charge with special circumstances.

Less than a year after Berman's death, Durst turned up in Galveston, Texas, in connection with the killing of an elderly neighbor, Morris Black. Black's dismembered body, in several plastic bags, was discovered in the waters offshore. A trail of clues led to Durst’s arrest.

Durst didn't deny dismembering Black, but he said he inadvertently shot him while wrestling a gun from him. A jury acquitted him in 2003.

Although Durst's life has seen a series of high-profile brushes with the law, suspicions about him exploded into a national sensation as they played out in a six-part HBO series, “The Jinx.”

Agents took Durst into custody the day before Sunday's finale, in which Durst uttered a possible confession after the filming stopped but his microphone continued recording.

“Killed them all, of course," Durst muttered after stepping away from the set. 

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Times staff writer Matt Hamilton contributed to this story.

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