Believe It or Not, Robert Durst Was Actually Married When He Died — Who Was His Second Wife?

"He’s not dangerous at all," said Robert Durst's second wife Debrah Lee Charatan. "If he came home, I’d open the door."

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

May 20 2024, Published 5:22 p.m. ET

Robert Durst's second wife, Debrah Lee Charatan
Source: Getty Images

According to The Charley Project's website, they have profiles of more than 16,000 missing persons within the United States. Each week they highlight one person in particular who appears on their homepage under the words "Missing Person of the Week." In a way it's haunting because language like this is usually reserved for celebrations such as the employee of the week. In this case, these are people who have vanished and their appearance on the home page might lead to some information.

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Robert Durst, who was propelled into the public eye thanks to the docuseries The Jinx, is technically on the The Charley Project website. His wife Kathie Durst disappeared on Jan. 31, 1987, and was declared dead 30 years later. Between the time she went missing and the death of Robert Durst in January 2022, he was found guilty of one murder, acquitted of another, and married a second time. Who was Robert Durst's wife at the time of his death? She's clearly very brave.

(L-R): Debrah Lee Charatan; Robert Durst
Source: Getty Images

Debrah Lee Charatan; Robert Durst

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Robert Durst's wife was not afraid of her husband.

In October 2001, Jeanine Pirro was on her way to meet Robert Durst's wife. According to an excerpt from her book He Killed them All, published in the New York Post, the former district attorney turned judge had reopened the cold case surrounding Durst's missing wife Kathie in the fall of 2000. Durst wouldn't be at this meeting as he had just been arrested for the murder of Morris Black. When Pirro arrived, the receptionist tried to tell her Mrs. Durst wasn't available, but the attorney had played these games before.

After instructing the receptionist to let his wife know that she could talk now, or later with a grand jury, Pirro was ushered into this mysterious woman's office. "I’m Debrah Lee Charatan," she said to Pirro. When asked if she was in fact married to Robert Durst, Charatan said yes. She claimed they were married Dec. 11, 2000, in a small ceremony that took place in a conference room and lasted all of 15 minutes. While in police custody, Durst would tell his sister it was a "marriage of convenience," per The Guardian.

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Apparently Durst needed someone to fund his fugitive life, and who else could cash checks from his trust? Pirro reminded Charatan that Durst is an extremely dangerous man, but she was unfazed. "He’s not dangerous at all," replied Charatan. "If he came home, I’d open the door." Although he was found not guilty of murdering Black, he was convicted in September 2021 for the murder of his longtime friend Susan Berman, who many believe knew what happened to Durst's first wife.

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Debrah Lee Charatan is the executor of Robert Durst's estate.

The New York Times reported that while Durst and Charatan never lived together, he gave her "$20 million from a $65 million settlement of his claims on the family trust." She took part of that money and started her own real estate company, said the outlet. Charatan also began dating one of Durst's lawyers: Steven I. Holm. Up until his death, Charatan was investing Durst's money in various real estate deals.

In March 2023, a federal judge approved a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Kathie Durst's family against the "estate of Robert Durst and his widow Debra Charatan, who Kathie’s family has accused of helping cover up her murder," per News 12 Westchester. The lawsuit claims that Charatan stands to gain access to millions of dollars from her husband's estate, which he used to "avoid justice" for decades. As of the time of this writing, that lawsuit is still pending.

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