Rockefeller imposter, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, jailed for murder of landlady’s son
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Thursday 15 August 2013
A German man who spent years masquerading as a member of the Rockefeller dynasty has been sentenced to 27 years to life in prison for killing his landlady’s son, in San Marino, California, almost three decades ago.
In April, a Los Angeles jury found Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter guilty of murdering 27-year-old John Sohus, who vanished in February 1985. Gerhartsreiter, now 52, bludgeoned Sohus to death and buried his body behind the guesthouse where both men lived. Sohus’s remains were uncovered in 1994. His wife Linda, who also went missing, has never been found.
At the time of their disappearance, Gerhartsreiter was passing himself off as Christopher Chichester, a British aristocrat. He fled to the East Coast, where he later posed as “Clark Rockefeller”, a member of the wealthy US clan. In 1995, he wed Sandra Boss; the two were married for a decade before Ms Boss’s suspicions were aroused. She hired a private investigator who exposed the fabrications in her husband’s biography.
Gerhartsreiter’s identity was revealed in 2008 after his arrest for abducting his daughter during a custody battle. Convicted of kidnapping, assault and battery, he was nearing the end of a four-year sentence when police linked him to the 1985 murder. Before the sentence was handed down, Gerhartsreiter protested his innocence, saying “I firmly believe that the victim’s wife killed the victim.”
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