Crime

Is Kristen Modafferi’s disappearance tied to murder suspect Robert Durst?

Kristen Modafferi disappeared in San Francisco in 1997. Her family hopes the murder charges filed against real estate tycoon Robert Durst may help revive the case
Kristen Modafferi disappeared in San Francisco in 1997. Her family hopes the murder charges filed against real estate tycoon Robert Durst may help revive the case

More than a decade ago, the search for Kristen Modafferi stopped briefly at the feet of accused murderer Robert Durst.

Now the family of Modafferi, a Charlotte teen who vanished during a summer stay in San Francisco almost 18 years ago, reportedly may ask investigators to revisit Durst as a suspect in her disappearance.

Police probing the 1997 disappearances of Modafferi and Karen Mitchell, a Bay Area 16-year-old, first checked out Durst in 2003 but nothing appeared to come of it. At the time, the eccentric New York real estate multimillionaire was on trial for the murder and dismemberment of his Galveston, Texas, neighbor. Durst claimed the killing was self-defense and was cleared of all charges.

Now, Durst faces a new murder charge in Los Angeles, this time linked to the 2000 death of a longtime friend. An author who has followed Durst for years told the New York Daily News that Durst’s arrest may revive efforts to solve the mystery of the two missing girls. Durst reportedly lived in the San Francisco area when the young women disappeared six months apart.

Bob Modafferi, Kristen’s father, told the New York paper this week that he planned to contact the FBI. “If he was in that area where Kirsten went missing, it raises a bunch of potential red flags and questions,” he said.

Modafferi and his wife, Debbie, who now live in Florida, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. But they released a statement through Charlotte family friend Joan Scanlon-Petrusky, hoping “that the ongoing interrogation of Durst by law enforcement ... could uncover new information that could be of value, and lead to the truth about what happened to Kristen.”

Scanlon-Petrusky, founder of the Kristen Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money to find missing adults, said she and the Modaferris have never lost hope.

“We will not give up until there’s a resolution,” she said. “I believe it’s out there. I believe in my heart that we’ll get an answer.”

Of Durst, she said, “It’s a possibility. You have to go on possibilities. You follow every lead until you get a ‘No, it’s not him.’” Researcher Maria David contributed.

Gordon: 704-358-5095

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