Oakland Police: No Evidence Robert Durst Involved in Kristen Modafferi's 1997 Disappearance

There is no evidence to indicate real-estate heir Robert Durst was connected to 18-year-old college student Kristen Modafferi's disappearance in 1997 from the Bay Area, Oakland police said Wednesday.

Modafferi vanished from San Francisco on June 23, 1997, after clocking out from her shift at Spinelli's Coffee Shop in the Crocker Galleria. Modafferi, who had been living in Oakland for just weeks, was supposed to start a summer course in photography at UC Berkeley the day after she went missing.

Police looked at Durst in connection to Modaferri's case, but nothing came out of it.

Oakland police's response Wednesday came after recent media reports suggesting Durst could be connected to Modafferi’s disappearance. Durst reportedly was living in Northern California at the time of her disappearance.

“The Oakland Police Department conducted an investigation with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the 1997 disappearance of Kristen Modafferi. The investigation was open and active for several years. At this time we do not have any evidence that indicates Robert Durst was involved in her disappearance,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Eureka, California, police told NBC News Tuesday they were interested in speaking with law enforcement agencies who investigated Durst in connection with the disappearance of another teen, 16-year-old Karen Mitchell, who vanished from Eureka in 1997.

Durst is currently on suicide watch as he remains jailed in Louisiana on gun charges, awaiting extradition to Los Angeles to face charges in the murder of his former spokeswoman Susan Berman. Deputies in Louisiana have moved him from a New Orleans jail to a state prison with a mental health unit.

Durst, 71, was arrested last weekend just before the finale of "The Jinx," an HBO documentary series about him, which concluded with the eccentric millionaire muttering he had "killed them all" to himself off-camera with his microphone still on.

Durst has been investigated over his first wife's 1982 disappearance.

In another case, he was acquitted of murder after he killed and dismembered a neighbor in Texas and dumped his body parts in the bay, saying he had done so in self-defense.

Modaferri’s disappearance remains one of the Bay Area’s great mysteries. A design student at North Carolina State University, Modaferri came to San Francisco on June 1, 1997, her 18th birthday. 

She told coworkers on the day of her disappearance later that month she was going to the beach. Bloodhounds tracked her to the Sutro Baths, but nothing conclusive turned up.

Police found a personal ad among her possessions, which read: “Friends. Female seeking friend(s) to share activities, who enjoy music, photography, working out, walks, coffee or simply exploring the Bay Area! Interested, call me."

During the course of the investigation in 1998, police believed Modaferri might have placed the ad in the Bay Guardian newspaper and even asked anyone who responded to it to come forward.

Modaferri's disappearance led to the creation of the National Center for Missing Adults.

Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.

Contact Us