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A Vermont college student who disappeared in 1971 shopped at the health food store owned by Robert Durst on the day she went missing, authorities said Tuesday. But they stopped short of naming the infamous real estate scion as a suspect or person of interest.
Durst, who is held without bail in Louisiana and remains a suspect in an unrelated 2000 murder case, owned the All Good Things health food store in Middlebury at the time Lynne Schulze, an 18-year-old Middlebury College freshman, vanished. As part of an investigation that was jump-started again three years ago, Middlebury police revealed Tuesday they had previously visited property in the area once owned by Durst.
"(Durst) is a person that’s very interesting to us," Police Chief Tom Hanley said at a news conference, adding that they have yet to interview him.
Schulze may have purchased prunes from All Good Things on the last day she was seen — Dec. 10, 1971, police said. Durst, the son of a wealthy New York City tycoon, lived in the Middlebury area for about two years — which was mentioned in the HBO documentary series, "The Jinx," which aired earlier this month and reopened interest in Durst's deceptive past.
The missing person's case involving Schulze, a Simsbury, Connecticut, native, was reopened in 1992. In July 2012, a detective working the case received a tip from an anonymous caller who said Durst owned a health food store in Middlebury around the time of her disappearance.
On the day Schulze went missing, a student said he had seen her around 12:30 p.m. eating dried prunes at a bus station bought from a health food store. She was supposedly going to New York but the bus already left.
Her college roommate told police she then saw Schulze around 12:45 p.m. before she was supposed to take one of her final exams for the semester at 1 p.m. But Schulze left her wallet behind and never went to class. Another student said he saw Schulze at 2:15 p.m. outside the health food store.
Police said Tuesday that earlier reports that she went hitchhiking out of Middlebury don't appear correct. What happened to her remains fuzzy, and police aren't ruling out a possible link to Durst.
"We certainly would like to talk to him eventually," Hanley said. "Right now he does have an attorney, and we’re working with other agencies."
Durst was denied bail Monday on a drug-and-gun charge stemming from his arrest on March 14 at a New Orleans hotel. Louisiana police were arresting the 71-year-old on a first-degree murder charge in the death of Durst’s confidant, Susan Berman, at her Beverly Hills, California, home in 2000. Durst gained national notoriety in 2003 when he was acquitted in the dismemberment death of his Texas neighbor, and has long been suspected in the disappearance of his first wife, Kathie Durst, in 1982.
Middlebury police said they want to find justice for Schulze's family, although it's becoming increasingly difficult to find witnesses as the years pass. Durst, however, could be an important piece of the puzzle, investigators say.
"Whether it’s with Robert Durst or a different lead, I would love to bring some resolution to the family," Middlebury police Det. Kris Bowdish said Tuesday.
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