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Police searching Houston home of millionaire Robert Durst

March 18, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) — Authorities on Tuesday carried away two boxes after searching the Houston home of real estate millionaire Robert Durst following his weekend arrest in New Orleans on a murder warrant.

Durst, 71, is charged with murder in a Los Angeles killing 15 years ago, and has been suspected — but never charged — in the disappearance of his first wife in New York. In 2003, he was acquitted of murder in a dismemberment death in Texas. His arrest in New Orleans came shortly before the finale of an HBO documentary series about his links to the three killings.

Seven officers spent hours Tuesday searching Durst’s home in a 17-story condominium building in a posh Houston neighborhood. About 8:30 p.m. the officers, including one wearing a Los Angeles Police Department badge, carried two white cardboard document boxes to six vehicles and left.

The officers declined to comment, except for one who confirmed they were done.

FBI spokeswoman Shauna Dunlap confirmed that FBI agents were participating in the operation at the request of the Los Angeles Police Department. Harris County district attorney’s office spokesman Jeff McShan said the Los Angeles Police Department contacted his office last week.

Neither Dunlap nor McShan would elaborate on what was happening inside the building and referred questions to Los Angeles police.

LAPD spokesman Sgt. Barry Montgomery said the department is not commenting until Durst is in its custody. Durst is being held in Louisiana, where he faces drug and weapons charges, and it’s not clear how soon he will be returned to California.

“This is an investigation that’s being handled by multi-jurisdictions,” Montgomery said. “At this juncture the only thing the LAPD is doing is waiting for the extradition. We are just waiting on him to make it into our custody.”

Dick DeGuerin, Durst’s longtime Houston defense attorney, said he was baffled by what investigators could be looking for in the building.

“I think it’s a publicity stunt. I’m not surprised by it, but I would really be surprised if they found anything of any evidentiary value,” he said.

In the HBO documentary about Durst’s troubled life, he mumbled about how he “killed them all,” providing a dramatic kick to the end of the series. But a law enforcement official said his arrest on the murder charge was based on words he wrote.

Analysis linking a letter Durst wrote to his friend Susan Berman a year before her killing with one he said “only the killer could have written” to point police to her body was the key new evidence in the long-dormant investigation into the 2000 killing, the official not authorized to speak publicly told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

Durst was charged Monday in Los Angeles with first-degree murder in the shooting of Berman, the daughter of a prominent Las Vegas mobster. He could face the death penalty under special circumstances that allege he ambushed her and murdered a witness to a crime.

He waived extradition in New Orleans, but authorities there charged him late Monday with being a felon in possession of a gun because he had a revolver and carrying a weapon while possessing pot when he was arrested Saturday. It was not clear how soon he would be returned to California.

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Associated Press writers Tami Abdollah and Brian Melley in Los Angeles, Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans and Emily Wagster in Jackson, Mississippi, contributed to this report.

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