“Something Cool” No. 6: The Mystery of Robert Durst – Part 2

Morris Black

Morris Black

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Part Two. The Dismemberment of Morris Black.

Hi there! Welcome to the second installment of our four part series on suspected serial killer Robert Durst! Let’s recap.

Robert Durst is born in 1943. Robert Durst watches his mother fall to her death from a two-story high roof. Robert Durst marries Kathleen McCormack. Robert Durst abuses and cheats on Kathleen McCormack. Robert Durst’s story is sketchy after Kathleen McCormack mysteriously disappears in 1982. Okay! You’re all caught up. If you didn’t read the first installment, I’d highly recommend you do so before continuing, but hey, to each their own.

Now, fast forward to 2000. Kathleen McCormack’s case has been cold for nearly two decades, but there’s rumors that the police have secretly reopened it. So, dear reader, put yourself in our beloved Robert’s shoes for a moment. For the last 18 years, you’ve been under the impression that you got away with the murder of your ex-wife, but now you get a tip out of the blue that the cops might be onto you. What do you do? Do you:

A: Turn yourself in.

B: Continue to hide away and hope you don’t get caught, or…

C: Disguise yourself as a woman under the alias of Dorothy Ciner and move to Galveston, Texas.

If you guessed “C”, congratulations; you’re a winner!

That’s right; Robert got a fake I.D., threw on some heels, and headed to scenic Galveston, located less than a mile away from the northwesternmost border of the Gulf of Mexico. Oh, and one other thing: his alter ego, Dorothy, was mute. I mean, this makes sense, really, because if she hadn’t been, people would have probably had a few questions about why her voice was so unusually deep. Anyways, nobody in Galveston ever heard her speak.

Well, almost nobody. You see, Dorothy needed to find somewhere to live, so she settled down in a boarding house located on Avenue K, just down the street from such fine Texas establishments as Leo’s Cajun Kitchen and Kwik Kar Lube & Tune (trust me, I looked on Google Maps). There, she befriended a 71 year-old man by the name of Morris Black, with whom she was anything but mute. Dorothy revealed her true identity to him, and Morris became Robert’s confidant of sorts. The two continued this secretive relationship for a while; things were on the up and up for the stowaway multi-millionaire.

That is, until he shot the elderly man in the head, chopped him up into pieces, and threw his dismembered body parts into a lake.

The story goes something like this. Robert and Morris got into an argument over who knows what (the details of the fight aren’t really important in the grand scheme of things). Tensions rose until, according to Robert, Morris made a move for a nearby pistol and our favorite psychopath had no choice but to shoot first. Bang. Ouch. Bullet to the brain. Robert then took a paring knife and filleted his victim’s body before wrapping the individual appendages in trash bags and tossing them into the Galveston Bay. Later, the judge that presided over Durst’s trial would say this about the act: “You could see that this person knew what they were doing and that it was not a first time. The body was cut perfectly like a surgeon who knew how to use this tool on this bone and a certain kind of tool on that muscle. It looked like not a first-time job.” Remember that surgeon thing. It’ll come up again later.

Robert then returned home, probably poured himself a cup of coffee or maybe some hot cocoa, and promptly went to bed. When he went back to the scene the next morning, he discovered the trash bags with Morris’s body parts in them floating atop the water. Panicked, he jumped in to retrieve the evidence, but instead of collecting all of the bags, he decided just to take the one with Morris’s head in it – no bullet hole, no murder, right? I guess?

On that note, I’d like to take a moment to run through the possible sequence of thoughts that Robert had that day:

Robert: Hmm…I wonder what those trash bags floating in the water are.

Robert: Wait a minute. Didn’t I shoot somebody yesterday and then dismember him and throw trash bags just like those with his body parts in them into this very same lake?

Robert: I certainly did!

Robert: I should probably go check it out.

Robert: Oh, gee. These trash bags are the trash bags with that guy’s body parts in them. Darn.

Robert: Well, I should probably dispose of the head since that’s where the bullet hole is, but these other bags can totally just chill. Yeah, that makes sense. That’s logical.

Unsurprisingly, the police were notified almost immediately about suspicious trash bags floating in the bay. They identified the dismembered limbs as those of Morris Black, and a trail of blood was found leading from his room in the boarding house to Robert’s. Robert was arrested following the police’s examination of the house, but posted bail and was released the very next day. With no forensics or concrete evidence to hold him there, he left Galveston. He had now gotten away with two murders, no strings attached.

At least, he had. Up until that fateful day in a Bethlehem, PA Wegmans with that stupid chicken sandwich.

That’s all for the second part of the Robert Durst chronicles. Next time, we’ll discuss Robert’s third and final victim, in addition to addressing the aforementioned chicken sandwich. Thanks for reading.

If you have a topic you’d like me to research, or you have a suggestion for future installments, email me at [email protected]

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“Something Cool” No. 6: The Mystery of Robert Durst – Part 2