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Robert Durst Used His Dog’s Name As A Code Word For Murder, Prosecutor Says

A jailhouse phone call is the latest evidence that prosecutors say shows Durst was planning more violence.

Last updated on March 9, 2020, at 9:03 p.m. ET

Posted on March 9, 2020, at 7:52 p.m. ET

Robyn Beck / AP

Real estate heir Robert Durst during his murder trial in Los Angeles on Thursday.

One of the things millionaire murder suspect Robert Durst objected to most about All Good Things, a “fictionalized” biopic, was not the 2010 movie’s depiction of him killing three people, but rather a scene suggesting that he had killed his dog, Igor.

“This made me feel bad about the movie, Andrew,” Durst tells All Good Things director Andrew Jarecki in the audio commentary for the DVD, which was taped just before Durst’s first sit-down interviews in late 2010 for Jarecki’s HBO documentary The Jinx. "I mean the idea that I could kill Igor, I don’t like."

On Monday, Deputy District Attorney John Lewin said during Durst’s murder trial that he had used their shared love of dogs to gain Durst’s trust in their first interview, the morning of the Jinx finale in 2015. During that interview, Lewin said he believes Durst acknowledged killing his best friend Susan Berman, which Durst has denied.

And though Durst has been upset by the suggestion that he killed his dog, Lewin told jurors he seemed to use the dog’s name as a code word for murder during a recorded jailhouse phone call.


Susan Berman and Robert Durst

Rumors about what Durst did with his pets have persisted for years.

In a rare interview with the New York Times on Jan. 1, 2015, Douglas Durst, who took over as the head of the family’s real estate empire after his brother was forced out, said Robert Durst had been “practicing killing and disposing his wife” with a “series” of seven dogs — all named Igor.

“Before the disappearance of my sister-in-law, Bob had a series of Alaskan Malamutes, which is like a husky,” Douglas Durst said. “He had seven of them, and they all died, mysteriously, of different things, within six months of his owning them. All of them named Igor. We don’t know how they died, and what happened to their bodies.

“In retrospect, I now believe he was practicing killing and disposing his wife with those dogs.”

Magnolia Pictures

The 2010 drama All Good Things starred Ryan Gosling as Durst.

In the interviews with filmmaker Jarecki, Robert Durst didn’t express remorse for killing his neighbor Morris Black in a confrontation that led to Durst’s first murder trial, where he was found not guilty. Durst also didn’t explain why he failed to assist police in trying to find his first wife, Kathie, when she went missing under suspicious circumstances in 1982.

Durst did want to make sure Jarecki had the details right about his dogs. He did not have a “bunch of” dogs, all named Igor, he tells Jarecki. "No, we had two Igors before the Igor that lasted forever," Durst says. "One of them got run over and one of them, when he was a puppy, went out and the second one ate an apple core. The apple core got stuck in his gut. We took him and had an operation done on him and he died."

Just three days into the trial, dogs have already figured prominently. Before beginning his opening statements, Lewin explained to the jury that he’d had to change suits that morning because his Great Dane had “slobbered” all over him.

It was Berman’s dogs — whom Lewin referred to as the “love of her life” — being loose that alerted neighbors that something was wrong after she was killed in 2010. When Kathie Durst went missing, Robert told authorities he couldn’t have been involved because he was out walking his dog. And in a 2017 court filing, a retired NYPD detective — who said that Durst brought his dog to the police station when reporting Kathie missing — asked to be reimbursed for the cost of his dog sitter when he traveled to Los Angeles for the trial.

Gerald Herbert / AP

Robert Durst is transported to the Orleans Parish Prison in 2015.

Though Durst has protested that he’d ever harm his pets, Lewin on Wednesday presented audio that suggested something else.

In a recorded jailhouse call between Durst and his second wife, Debrah Charatan, Durst uses “Igor,” the name of multiple dogs he has owned, as a verb that Lewin said actually meant “to kill.”

"I was planning on Igor'ing BM," Durst told his wife during his calls from jail, with “BM” allegedly referring to his brother Douglas.

In court on Monday, Lewin didn’t say if he believed Durst really killed his dogs. In their 2015 interview, Lewin observed, “You love dogs more than you love people," and Durst agreed.

But, the prosecutor said as he wrapped up his opening statement, he was sure that Durst had killed Susan Berman, and he promised jurors that he would prove it.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.