Durst, 78, is currently in a California state prison hospital after being handed a life sentence without any chance of parole in October for the slaying of Susan Berman at her Beverly Hills home in 2000.
That trial heard that Berman was killed because she had helped provide Durst an alibi for the night that Kathie Durst disappeared and that he had wanted to silence her.
“When Kathleen Durst disappeared on January 31, 1982, her family and friends were left with pain, anguish and questions that have contributed to their unfaltering pursuit of justice for the last 39 years,” said Westchester County District Attorney Miriam Rocah.
“The District Attorney’s Office reinvigorated its investigation into Robert Durst just 10 months ago when I took Office, launched the Cold Case Bureau, and dedicated the resources and skill that I thought this case deserved.
“Thanks to the incredible hard work of our Assistant District Attorneys, the District Attorney’s Criminal Investigators and the New York State Police, we have taken a huge step forward in the pursuit of justice for Kathie Durst, her family and victims of domestic violence everywhere.”
The grand jury in Westchester County Court, just north of New York City, heard evidence for two weeks and charged Durst with second-degree murder on Monday.
Officials will lodge an arrest warrant with California prison bosses and seek his extradition.
Durst is currently being treated for a string of medical complaints, including bladder and esophageal cancer.
Kathie Durst’s body has never been found and Durst has never faced any charges over her disappearance.
She vanished after a weekend at their cottage along Truesdale Lake in Westchester County, at the same time she was trying to divorce Durst, whom she married in 1973, amid claims of abuse at his hands.
Durst was charged with Berman’s murder after he took part in the HBO documentary The Jinx, which aired in 2015.
He was arrested by police in New Orleans on the eve of the show’s finale, which concluded with Durst whispering into a hot microphone, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
During his trial in Los Angeles, Durst denied that he had killed either woman, but then admitted under cross-examination he would lie if he had.
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