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US real estate heir Robert Durst has been charged in the 1982 disappearance of his ex-wife, authorities have said.

Kathie McCormack Durst's body was never found, and she was legally declared dead in 2017.

A new criminal complaint accuses Durst of second-degree murder in connection with the case.

Last week Durst, 78, was sentenced to life in prison for the 2000 murder of his best friend to stop her talking about his wife's disappearance.

The new criminal complaint against Durst – the subject of HBO crime documentary series The Jinx – was filed by a state police investigator in Lewisboro, New York.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, the Associated Press has reported that a grand jury has begun hearing witness testimony.

In a statement sent to the BBC, the Westchester County District Attorney's Office confirmed that a complaint had been filed but provided no further comment.

Kathie McCormack Durst was 29 when she vanished in January 1982 following an argument with Durst, who had long claimed that he took her to a train station so that she could return to their Manhattan apartment.

While he initially claimed that he spoke with her once she returned, he later admitted that was a lie. Durst divorced McCormack in 1990, citing abandonment.

The new complaint is based on "conversations with numerous witnesses and observations of defendants, recorded interviews and observations of Durst's recorded interviews and court testimony in related proceedings".

The BBC has reached out to attorneys representing Durst for comment.

Robert Abrams, a spokesman for Kathie McCormack Durst's family, was quoted by the New York Times as saying they were "unaware" of the latest criminal complaint, but grateful for the work of the district attorney's office, and told the BBC that they "are very happy with this development".

On 14 October, Durst was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Susan Berman, who was found shot in the head in her Beverly Hills home. Authorities believe she was murdered to prevent her from talking to police about the McCormack case. Durst has denied killing his friend and his lawyers have said he intends to appeal.

Prosecutors believe that Durst has murdered three people: Berman, McCormack and Morris Black, an elderly neighbour who discovered Durst's identity in 2001 while he was hiding out in Texas. Durst was later acquitted in the Black case.

Just days after his sentencing in the Berman case, Durst was hospitalised with Covid-19.